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A Passing Shot…
Isn't a passing shot a passing shot, whether you hit it
deep or short?
It always fascinates me how often tennis players develop a misguided and twisted conceptions of how, where, or when to hit a ball.
The following is a top ranking of the most common misconceptions I encounter from my students and how I explain it to them.
Gonzo uses his slice backhand to set up his huge forehand weapon.
1. “I’m too slow.” No Doris, you are not too slow. I have never had anybody be too slow on the tennis court and I have taught people from the age of 3 right up to 84. It’s your anticipation that ain't quite what it should be. But don’t worry, another 15 years of practicing five hours a day should take care of that though, my dear.
2. “My backhand has to be as powerful and precise as my forehand.” But Herman, that would be too much to ask! You know what? Even if doesn’t yet register on the speed gun and I could probably run across the net faster than one of those lasers off your backhand wing, your backhand is already pretty, gorgeous and cute because it’s consistent and gets you the ball back in court.
Just look at the pros: all of ‘em have one dominant side, be it the forehand or the backhand. They use that shot to put pressure on the opponent and use the other side to keep the ball in play. It’s what we call in Peter Burshash International (PBI): the two opposites - meaning that whatever "like" you have, you will have a mirror dislike. Herman, it's simple: as long as your opponent doesn’t come out on court thinking that your backhand is a genuine weakness, then you’re hunky dory.
Despite appearances, pros actually clear the net by a good margin when rallying from the baseline.
3. “You should hit every ball 0.7267 inches over the net.” Yes Rupert, I know it looks that way on TV but when you actually see it from close up, pros hit the ball way higher then that over the net when they are rallying from baseline to baseline. Do you know why? Because a ball that lands in the net is a much worst mistake than a ball that lands too long.
Just think about it Rupert: if the ball goes in the net, it’s basta, finito, schluss, chalass – the end of the point. But when you’ve hit a little too high, well, at least you still have a chance: your opponent misjudges it, or he calls it in even though it landed long or a gust of wind takes it back down in time. And the double advantage of hitting with arc is that consistency on depth is easier to achieve. So Herman, after telling you this, are you still going to aim that low over the net or would you like to do push-ups for the rest of the hour?
How tall do you have to be to hit an
4. “I’m not tall – I’ll never serve hard.” No offence Jacky, but the five year old I taught just before you, serves twice as hard and precise as you and he doesn’t even reach to that pierced belly button of yours. Look, I’ll get down on my knees and you watch this.
See, if you have that loose wrist, you can do anything. The only advantage in being tall on the serve is that you have a slightly higher chance of getting the ball in because the net becomes geometrically lower.
5.”The follow-through, man!... it’s all in the follow-through.” Yep, right, OK, and pigs might fly and chickens have lips. Think about it logically, dude… what’s your follow-through going to do to the trajectory of the ball – nothing, nada, nichts!
Once that ball has left your strings, man, it’s arrivederci. No amount of follow-through is gonna make a difference, dude! But, I’ll tell you this though: that follow-through is important for one thing – it prevents injuries by smoothening out your stroke. It's too much of a strain on your arm to stop your swing at contact on every ball… dude.
Why volley deep if your opponent is on
6. ”Passing shot? Hmmm, good question coach". "Well, I guess if he’s up at the net, my ball has got to land deep in the corner” Look Herby, a passing shot, is a passing shot, is a passing shot. Whether you aim it for the corner, at the back, or shorter, half-way up the court. In fact, it would be preferable to aim half-way up the court because you only face the danger of going out-of-bounds on one line.
7. “My coach told me to hit all my volleys deep.” Listen Buffy, I’m sure your coach had the best of intentions – bless his cotton socks - but you have to be able to volley both deep and short. Furthermore, most of the time when you’re up at the net, your opponent will be back on the baseline, so what’s the point in hitting it back deep where they’re standing already anyway?
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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.
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