14 More Ways to Enjoy TennisOne Membership
TennisOne 2.0 and our new "YouTube" video wing, the TennisOne Video Network (TVN), gives TennisOne members full access to 14 tennis video channels, 14 more ways to see and learn about the sport we love. Here is a quick overview of just three of our new channels:
- HD Channel - Larger, higher-resolution, and longer video clips of the Pros filmed with our new HD cameras.
- Instructional Channel - See over 460 instructional videos from the best minds in the game--the equivalent of 30-40 tennis instruction DVDs. With our Instructional Channel videos, you get the best of both worlds---video and text article. If interested, click on the "Read the article" link in upper right corner of the video window and read the entire article.
- Slow-Motion Channel - Full-Screen - Among our new features, you can watch our videos, particularly our slow-motion videos in full-screen mode (see how).
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Throwing a Hatchet to Improve Your Serve
David Smith, Senior Editor TennisOne
In a previous article, I addressed the concept of analogies in teaching and learning tennis skills and strokes. The more a person can relate to the analogy, the more likely they will apply familiar aspects that the analogy offers and overcome the unfamiliar components faster.
I use one particular analogy to help my students in several ways. The analogy is “Throwing a Hatchet.” Now, while many people have never actually thrown a hatchet at a tree stump or log, the action has been seen often enough to create the visual.
The idea of throwing a hatchet conjures up the idea of a bladed ax atop a short handle. Not too different in context as our tennis racquet head atop the throat, shaft, and grip.
Advanced players have mastered the concept and ability to apply spin to their shots. In fact, I would go so far as to say that one of the most revealing attributes that separates the “dinker” from the skilled player is that almost all skilled players apply spin to nearly every shot. Of course, the amount of spin will vary from player to player based on swing path, grip, and desired result.
The Serve and the Hatchet Concept
Using the “Hatchet” analogy, I introduce all players to the serve with the concept of spin as the first skill desired. Initially, I don’t even care if the ball goes in the court. Because the tendency for players to “push” the ball in the desired direction is so strong, (because of the ‘instant gratification’ of getting the ball in the service box), millions of players never develop a strong serve—or more importantly, a strong second serve. When players learn to recognize the action of spin, and how to impart spin using an overhand motion like the serve, they usually show a steady improvement progression to the point of achieving a very effective, consistent, and aggressive serve.
The hatchet analogy is used to not just get players to bring the racquet “edge on” prior to contact, (instead of the dreaded waiter’s grip position so often seen among recreational and club players), but also to get them to imagine “throwing the racquet head over the forearm.” This is very important in terms of building racquet head speed. Many players, especially those who start their swing from the aforementioned waiter’s grip position, lead with their hitting elbow all the way through the swing. They seldom learn to slow the elbow down and allow the final segment of the kinetic chain (the hand and racquet) to speed up. Thus, we say these players “arm” their serves, actually gaining maximum racquet head speed long after they have already hit the ball!
You can often see the results of this swing path on their bodies: their shins have black and blue marks from their racquet hitting their legs! This is because these players develop maximum racquet head speed down around their waist and as such, can’t decelerate the racquet before hitting their legs! This consequence usually leads to players slowing their swing down even more resulting in the dreaded “dink” serve!
Improving Your Volley Too!
The hatchet analogy can also be applied to other shots. For example, may players flick, bunt, or push their volleys flat. While such methods will usually work most of the time at low levels, these methods often break down against advanced opponents who hit the ball harder, lower, and with more spin. Advanced players use some element of slice or under-spin on their volleys to gain control; they can hit the ball with more authority more effectively and without resorting to dinking the ball in fear of hitting it out.
While we would not “throw” our racquet at the ball like a hatchet, imagining the lower edge of the racquet as the blade of our hatchet can help players learn to drive with the needed slicing action to maintain the racquet face for increased control. Too many players flick, roll, dish, or drop their racquet head when hitting volleys.All these actions lower the element of control in terms of both aim and timing. "Keeping the Plane the Same," one of my favorite phrases in tennis, when used in conjunction with the hatchet analogy, can help players feel the right movements for more effective and more advanced volleys.
And, finally, on topspin groundstrokes, too many players push the racquet square to the target, again, resulting in players hitting flat and requiring most to hit softer shots to keep the ball in the court. If a player imagines the top edge of the racquet as our hatchet blade, and “throw” the racquet from a low to high swing path, with the blade (top edge) leading the way, many players can gain a feel for topspin where otherwise they might not.
Obviously, the slice backhand or a drop shot can be thought of as the edge of the racquet acting like our hatchet blade, leading through the entire stroke, again, helping to “keep the plane the same” and create a more dependable, reliable swing pattern.
As with all analogies, some work better than others with different players. Having an “arsenal” of analogies can help everyone, from the coach to the pro, from the tennis parent to the student themselves, gain different perspectives that can enhance learning and make improvement occur faster. I hope this one helps you too!
(Click link to purchase Dave Smith's Book Tennis Mastery, at tenniswarehouse.com.)
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.
Progressive Tennis: ½ Court Racquet Skills
Progressive Tennis is a natural application of the Game-based approach (GBA) as applied to under 10. Pioneered in European countries like France and Belgium, it is now the development method of choice for the majority of the world’s leading tennis nations. First and foremost, Progressive Tennis is a system of scaled competition for kids. In this article, Wayne Elderton looks developing rudimentary racquet skills with a goal of establishing a stable racquet.
Baseline Instincts that Hurt You at Net
With the current emphasis in the pro game on baseline play and the diminished interest in doubles, it’s no wonder that most players devote most of their practice time to groundstrokes. One of the negative results is the development of deeply ingrained baseline instincts that actually end up hurting your play at net. Lawrence Tabak explains how overcoming these instincts can help you play better tennis.
TennisOne Video Network HD Channel - Shahar Peer
This 21 year old Israeli woman continues to march up the rankings since her professional debut in 2004. Peer has reached the quarterfinals of the Australian and US Open, but still looks for a break out performance at one of the big four. In 2007 she held wins over Ivanovic, Kuznetsova, and Vaidisova. She favors a grinding baseline style of game, drives a heavy two-fisted backhand, retrieves exceedingly well off both wings, and she can finish a point when the court is open. Check out Shahar Peer's strokes on the HD Channel on the TennisOne Video Network.
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.
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