Living in a World of Clay
We live in a world dominated by clay court players. Just look at the top 10 of the year-end 2008 ATP rankings. At least 7 of them grew up on clay. This is down from 8 at the end of 2007. In fact, as you look back at the ATP Top 10 year-end rankings since their inception in 1973, an astounding 83% grew up playing on the dirt. The message is unambiguous. Want champions? Make sure they train and play matches on clay.
Click here to learn more.
"What's New" Weekly Video
from Tennis Warehouse - Latest Becker Special Edition and Wilson K Factor racquets - New Diadora Pro, Lotto Xtreme shoes
Got Grip Drift?
David W. Smith, Senior Editor TennisOne
As a full-time teaching professional, I am always seeking better ways to teach my students and occasionally, I get to gain a concept or phrase which I had not heard before.
This past week, I had a wonderful group of players from Durango, Colorado and was working on the serve. Quite often I come across players who serve using a continental grip after first learning to serve with an inferior eastern forehand grip. What sometimes happens during this learning period is that the player will unconsciously shift the grip in mid-swing, reverting to the more familiar and comfortable eastern forehand grip.
When I mentioned this to one of my students, (Karen Spear—who I promised I would give credit to!), she said, “Dave, so I’ve got Grip Drift?”
Grip Drift! I hadn't heard the concept phrased that way before and it made me laugh. I agreed, “Yes, Karen, you have “Grip Drift.”
This concept, (well phrased by my student!), is actually fairly common among players of different abilities. In fact, I was working with a top-500 world-ranked player (A.J. Bartlett) who, several years ago, was having tremendous difficulty in hitting his second serve with consistency and pace.
A. J. had spent the previous year in Florida at a fairly well-known teaching facility and came back to his former home town of St. George to have me look at his game, and, in particular, his serve. I had taught A.J. as a junior and his parents wanted to get him some international competition, taking him to Florida for the best opportunity. Within three serves, it became obvious: sure enough, in the middle of his backswing, A.J. was shifting his grip towards the eastern forehand which prohibited ideal racquet position within the swing pattern to create optimal spin axis and rotation.
Of course, the largest contingent of players who experience grip drift are those who indeed started with the eastern forehand grip on the serve. The problem lies in the backswing: when the racquet moves back to the collapse or “trophy” position, the player’s focus moves completely to the ball that has been tossed in the air. At this point, the familiarity of the grip takes over. Because the arm moves in a unique back-and-forth manner, the seeds are sowed to switch the grip towards the eastern forehand.
Conscious control of the racquet needs to be maintained within the backswing. There are a few ways that players can do this: hold a penny or other coin in the palm when you serve. Unless you have a very sweaty hand, the coin will usually fall to the ground if you switch grips on the backswing. Just having the coin in your hand is usually enough to help a player maintain conscious feel of the grip.
Another tool is to grip the racquet with the bottom two fingers tightly, letting the index finger and middle finger hold fairly loose. This grip position, when held offers feedback as to any grip drift that might be occurring.
Notice the differences between a serve using an eastern forehand grip (right) and one using a continental grip (left). As you can see, it's not
just a grip change!
Remember, if you have first learned to serve with an eastern forehand grip, there are several other factors that must be changed when learning to serve with the continental grip. You need to stay sideways much longer within the swing. (Players will typically open up the shoulders on the toss to face the net if they first learned to serve with an eastern forehand grip.) The swing path is different in that the player will keep the elbow higher and back longer allowing the racquet head to accelerate past the hand and forearm.
Most players using the eastern forehand grip align up into the “waiter’s grip” position leading with the elbow and pulling the elbow down to bring the racquet head square to the ball. At higher levels, players learn to push off on their front foot (left foot for right-handed players) and land on this foot using the continental grip and swing pattern. Players swinging with an eastern forehand grip tend to step through with their back leg. This obviously causes the player to rotate around, bringing the body forward as in facing the net.
These changes (in addition to the grip change) make the transition to the continental grip and subsequent proper swing pattern so very difficult. But, once a player has recognized these key elements, can isolate them, practice the proper concepts (at slow speeds at first (since players who swing faster tend to automatically revert back to their old, familiar muscle memory!), and consciously employ them in competition, the transition can become complete and the player will be well on his or her way to mastering the serve!
Go to tennismastery.net for exciting excerpts from Dave Smith's Tennis Mastery book and a host of tennis information!
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
Warriors and Zen Masters
Whether beginner or ranked open division player, everyone has a particular style of play. Some players have a quiet approach to to the game, like Roger Federer. He relies on staying calm and in control throughout the match. Other players show their fighting spirit on what seems like every point, like Rafael Nadal. To play well, they need to fist pump and run hard. Doug Eng calls the cool, controlled player the Zen Master. The player who loves to run and fist pump is the Warrior, which one are you?
The Kick Serve
In today’s game, whether you are an aspiring young junior, an adult seeking to build beyond the status quo, or a professional, a good kick serve can help take your game to new heights. On the ATP the vast majority of the men hit kick serves when they have a second serve opportunity because, when hit correctly, it is a very reliable, high percentage shot that a player can count on as a safe and effective method of starting (and often setting up) a point. Dan McCain
Andy Roddick – Another Look
After watching Roddick in Australia and again here at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Jim McLennan thinks he is poised to make another run to the top of the men’s game. Yes, Murray, Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer appear to have a stranglehold on the top four positions, but with a new coach, incredible training program, and perhaps a clearer understanding of point construction, the Kid is still in the game.
ProStrokes 2.0 - Tommy Haas' Forehand
This stylish German player is gradually winding down a career that began in 1996. Currently ranked 64th, he was ranked 2nd in Mary of 2002, and has amassed in excess of $9 million in prize money, A product in the long and prestigious Bollettieri assembly line, he plays as flowing a one handed backhand as we have seen on the tour in a long time. At 31 years old, Haas is still a dangerous floater in any draw. Check out his stokes in Prostrokes 2.0.
The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
If you wish to be removed from our newsletter list, please send an email to email@example.com and leave the subject line blank. A confirmation email will be sent to you, and you will be removed from our newsletter list once you reply to that confirmation.
Copyright Notice: The contents of the TennisONE web site and contents forwarded to you by TennisONE are intended for your personal, noncommercial use. Republishing of TennisONE content in any way, including framing or posting of these materials on other Web sites, is strictly prohibited. See our full copyright statement