Tennis Facility Tip
Unsure of whether your aging tennis court needs to be totally rebuilt or just freshened up? Well-manicured courts with great landscaping encourage members and guests to hang around the tennis facility. But how do you know what, exactly, your facility needs to appeal to players – and be cost-effective? When you need a roadmap with complete directions for installing, improving and upgrading tennis courts, turn to FAS – Facility Analysis Services developed by Lee Tennis Court Products.
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Serve Pre-Delivery: Study Baseball Pitchers
David W. Smith, Senior Editor TennisOne
Tennis educators for years have associated a baseball pitcher’s overhand pitching motion as a movement similar to the arm movements associated with a tennis serve. With a few exceptions, this analogy or comparison is valid and can be very helpful to many players.
Yet, there is another analogy related to pitching that tennis players can use to improve their serve delivery: the pre-delivery ritual and distinctive pause that tennis players of all abilities can incorporate to improve their serve percentage and consistency.
Baseball pitchers go through a pre-pitch routine, a set of rituals that are almost always the same and have a distinct purpose or pattern. A similar set of rituals can be seen by professional golfers, bowlers, and yes, professional tennis players.
Click photo: There is another analogy related to pitching that tennis players can use to improve their serve delivery: the pre-delivery ritual.
After any set of these rituals, professionals almost always address their opponent, (be it the pins in bowling, the ball in golf, or the court/opponent in tennis), and pause for a definite and formal moment. This pattern was first researched by Dr. Jim Leohr in a program he called the “Sixteen Second Formula.” Dr. Leohr researched the “between point” time spent by champions and top players.
While all these players had personal and individual routines or rituals, they all had commonalities that could be identified. On the other hand, after observing various levels of players who were not as skilled or who seemed to lose often, he noticed they often lacked many of these commonalities seen among those more successful.
Getting back to our baseball pitcher analogy; imagine a pitcher on the mound with a runner on first base. The rituals could include walking around the mound, rubbing the baseball between the palms, picking up the rosin bag, adjusting his cap, or any number of other idiosyncrasies. After these rituals, the pitcher then addresses the batter while standing on the mound, gets his sign from his catcher, and gets into a “Set” position where he will check the runner, pause, and then go into his motion.
As a tennis instructor for many years, one of the things I see that intermediate tennis players often fail at is creating a similar pattern before serving. Most all skilled tennis players emulate a pattern of rituals like our pitching scenario, all leading up to the moment they pause at the baseline in a “Set” position. Many recreational and club players simply walk up to the baseline, call the score out, look at their opponents for a moment then serve.
Purpose of the “Set”
Like “checking the runners” as a pitcher in baseball will do (and even when there are no runners on base, the pitcher always comes to this set position before pitching), tennis players should pause and look up at their opponent and at the target area. During this moment, several important things should be understood:
- The pause should be used to "visualize" the serve; clearly picture the type of serve you want to hit, (slice, kick, flat, etc.), and, picture the path you want the serve to take, (picture a yellow dotted line from your contact point of the serve curving into the court to the target area in the service box).
- The pause should allow you to balance your breathing and establish clear, positive body language that sends a message to your opponent: “I will win this point.”
- Finally, the pause should allow you to focus your intention on the upcoming serve…Not on past points won or lost, or past shots hit well or poorly.
Click photo: Novak Djokovic's service ritual can include up to 15 to 20 ball bounces.
Get into the habit of establishing a more distinct serve pattern that includes regular rituals and establishing a “Set” moment. By doing this, you just may develop a more repeatable, reliable serve with intention. This, in turn, creates better aim since you are starting from a more stable foundation.
This is one of the many elements the average tennis player can incorporate into his or her game. It doesn’t require any special coordination, athleticism, or timing; it doesn’t require learning any new swing path, grip, or footwork pattern. And, it has nothing to do with your opponent, but it has everything to do with you. So work on it, develop a habit of this “Set” pattern, and enjoy a higher level of serving as a result.
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Gearing Up For Better Stroke Construction
One of the most important aspects of good stroking is the concept of rhythm. Rhythm refers to the creation of a continuous flow of movement that allows speed to develop in the most efficient manner possible. When motion incurs stops and starts the action becomes very herky-jerky. In this article, Doug King looks at the notion of how to construct a proper stroke model for developing rhythm in your game.
The Backhand Volley
While the majority of the best players in the world play more often from the baseline these days, using traditional volleys at the net can still be an effective way to pressure opponents and finish points. The backhand volley, which can be considered similar in technique to the backhand slice groundstroke, is an essential tool for any player who wants to be proficient at the net. Dan McCain
Playing All the Angles
Many players today could benefit by adding more angle to their shot rather than simply defaulting to a more powerful shot that may not move your opponent off the court very much. Watching the pro players live is a great way to see just how much they work the ball. But many times coaches and players are confused about just what constitutes an angle. Here, Jorge Capestany and Luke Jensen take the time to properly define various angle shots you see the pros use.
ProStrokes 2.0 - Dominika Cibulkova Backhand
This 20 years old, from Bratislava Slovakia is having a breakout year on the WTA tour, reaching the semi-finals of the French Open this year, her best results in a Grand Slam event. The Slovakian is another Eastern Europe beauty whose game is as flattering as her looks. Setting up points with a two-handed backhand, Dominika crushes her forehand and possesses a solid backhand slice and net game. And, at 5 foot 3 inches, Dominika packs a lot of power in a very small frame! New this issue, Cibulkova's backhand.
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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