Where to hit the Drop Shot
Now that we've discussed when to hit the drop shot, this next installment in our video series for techniques used to play on clay discusses where to hit the drop shot. Did you know that there are two basic target areas to aim for when hitting the drop shot? Learn more about where those target areas are and continue developing your drop shot. Har-Tru - Developing Champions Around The World.
Click here to see the video.
Tennis Warehouse – New Products – Men's Apparel/Shoes - Yonex Paris/London Crew, Nike Lunar Vapor 8 (Roger's shoe); Nike Air Court Ballistic (Rafa' shoe)
Forehand Variations within the Advanced Foundation
In my 35 years of teaching tennis, what I find interesting is the way each and every player evolves and embellishes the foundation. Some teaching pros believe if you teach the same exact stroke patterns to every student, you will end up with a bunch of tennis “clones.” But that is clearly not the case. There are so many variables within each individual student that, just like the unique genetic pattern every human possesses, every tennis student will emerge from learning the same foundation with particular idiosyncrasies within their games.
From personality to perceptions to actual athletic prowess, each student will take the same technical training and adapt it over time. We see this in all sports. While every top pro golfer has the same foundation and swing elements, there are many peculiarities and idiosyncrasies that differentiate a Rickie Fowler from a Rory McIlroy, or a Tiger Woods from a Jack Nicklaus. If we compare jump shots of NBA stars like a Kobie Bryant or a Michael Jordan, we can see core similarities that are in line with all NBA stars…but both with a different personality and style that makes their foundation unique to them.
Tennis is no different. We can compare nearly every single top ATP and WTA tour player, and we can identify similar foundation elements in their strokes. Yet, each has a style or what I call “evolved characteristics” that have developed from this foundation. So ,I guess Sly Stone had it right, "different strokes for different folks," although I'm almost certain he wasn't referring to tennis.
Same Player…Different Strokes
We can also look at an individual player and identify how he or she has developed different specific strokes (based on this advanced foundation) for different situations. In fact, if we look specifically at swing and footwork patterns, you will definitely find variations even within each individual player. In skilled players, you will indeed find both open and closed stances, wrap and reverse finishes, and many other variations depending on the situation.
Once a player develops a solid foundation in a stroke, one that implements a reliable, repeatable swing path with reliable, repeatable results, the player is then able to embellish this foundation, adding to the stroke with measured effects. For example, a player who hits with a general and similar ball rotation on a topspin stroke, that player can then add more or less topspin with generally expected results.
Let’s look at an up-and coming player and this year’s Wimbledon Champion, Petra Kvitova. In the following clips you will see her forehand hit with different patterns based both on situations as well as intent.
In the first video (above) Petra uses some “old school” elements: Neutral Stance, over-the-shoulder wrap finish, and even the classic, “catch the racquet with the non-dominant hand” element.
Notice also that even though Kvitova doesn’t use a huge front leg drive, her weight is clearly on this front foot throughout the majority of the stroke.
Video two shows Petra hitting a more “modern,” attacking forehand. Here she uses an open stance (although not a fully open) with a more classic weight weight transfer from back foot to front, and an explosive thrust that literally propels her off the ground.
Note also the difference in the finish of the stroke: a lower drive with the finish across her side and not over the shoulder as she did in the video one.
This is a far more aggressive forehand and she hits a much flatter ball compared to the videos below.
In many situations, it is advisable to stay down within the stroke instead of standing up in the classic way. This can help a player control the contact window simply because the core of the body is not moving vertically within the stroke. In Video three, Petra again uses a neutral stance and remains down throughout the contact phase. While some teaching pros actively teach players to stand up, you will see touring pros staying down in many situations. Here you can clearly see Petra drop down in a bent-knee position as her racquet drops down out of her loop swing. Yet, her hips, while rotating forward as she brings her racquet into the contact phase, barely move from the moment of contact to well into her relaxation phase. In this case, her swing path is far more vertical than in the previous video, indicating a far less aggressive shot selection. Here, Petra is not attacking but playing a very conservative forehand for control.
When players are on the run, you will almost always see them bring the front leg across at some point during the stroke. This is to help maintain balance within the swing. If a player were to plant the inside foot (as in an open stance forehand) while on the run, he would end up falling backward during the stroke, causing the player to lose balance and make recovery more difficult.
In the fourth video, Petra is on the run slightly. Note how she establishes a good position on the ball, gets her front leg to come in slightly (in what I call an “open-to-closed” stance footwork pattern), and is able to hit a flatter, driving forehand with her finish more up over the shoulder. Again, she catches the racquet with her off-hand, and has a high hitting elbow after the finish of the stroke.
Video five offers a little more modern, open stance forehand, Kvitova loads her left foot early before contact and transfers her weight across to her right foot. Notice the more prominent “wiper” move as Kvitova brushes up and across the back of the ball adding more topspin as opposed to driving it as she did in video two.
As you can see, there are many variations in a player’s stroke preference. This can be based on situations or intent. But, most important, notice the foundation of the swing when observing any professional stroke. The key here is to make sure you are keeping the “plane the same” within the stroke. This idea, to keep the hitting surface of the string bed the same as long as you can within the stroke, helps players gain control and opens the door to embellishing the stroke and adding more variety as well.
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.
The Kick Serve
With the success of Samantha Stosur on the women's tour (and just about every player on the men's side) Commentators have been talking more and more about the importance of a strong kick serve. Here, former Stanford alum and thirteen year touring pro, Jeff Salzenstein, takes you through the ABC's of the kick or topspin serve. Follow Jeff's three step approach and you'll be executing a kick serve also – perhaps not quite like Samantha, yet good enough to baffle most opponents.
Francesca Schiavone and the All Court Game
One can't help but love watching Francesca Schiavone play tennis! It is easy to embrace her passion for the sport which is reflected in her style of play! Her game is somewhat reminiscent of a bygone era when many players played an “all court” game! Schiavone does not possess the biggest serve or the most forceful groundstrokes, she seems far removed from what Mary Carillo likes to call "Big Babe Tennis." But what she does have is a wonderful use and execution of many different tennis shots! There's a lot to learn from watching Schiavone play. – Dave Kensler
ProStrokes 2.0 – Li Na's Backhand
Li Na, the first Chinese tennis player to win a Grand Slam, is a product of both the Chinese Sports Federation training and her own. Li Na sports very well groomed strokes.She plays a conventional game and her two-handed backhand is definitely “model form.” She hits her forehand with both power and spin, something that helped her win on clay at the French this year. Under coach Michael Mortensen, Li Na improved her ability to move forward and take advantage of her strong ground game; She has excellent volley technique and is able to cover the net as well as she covers the back court. New this issue, Li Na's Backhand.
TennisOne Writers Store
One of your many new benefits as a TennisOne membership is your ability to purchase selected instructional DVDs at 20% off ($7.50 off each) in our new TennisOne Writers Store (login in first to access members links):
- "All-Court Game and the Volley: Keys to Modern Tennis Technique," by Doug King Public – Members
- "TennisOne's Stroke Secrets: Keys to Better Groundstrokes," Public; Members
- "Building Your Serve from the Ground Up," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Building Your Ground Game," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Building a Kick Serve," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Underspin Backhand - Weapon," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Achieving Peak Performance the Wholistic Way: The Mental Game," Happy Bhalla Members – Public
- "Building a World Class Serve," Phil Dent Members – Public
- "Building a World-class Volley," Dave Smith Members – Public
- "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin," Doug King Members Public
- "Best of Ken DeHart," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Corrective Techniques & Myths," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Defeating the Monsters in Your Mind," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Skills, Drills, and Games for Beginning Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- "Drills for Intermediate Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Drills for Advanced Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- Click here to see all the benefits of a TennisOne Membership.
- Click here to sign up for a risk-free, TennisOne 30 day free trial membership.
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
If you wish to be removed from our newsletter list, please click "reply" to the newsletter email, and for the subject line, write "unsubscribe." Or you can email us directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org