As we move to our weekly publishing format on TennisOne, our newsletter "editorial" will be shorter, and we'll try to balance the theoretical with the practical. QuickTips are quick, practical ways to improve your game. Here's your first one.
QuickTip: Pointing the Butt Cap Up at the Ball
Errors into the net.
Click photo to see Jim McLennan talk about the importance of pointing the butt cap up.
Ion Tiriac, formerly Romanian doubles partner of Ilie Nastase and then coach of Boris Becker and Henri LeConte, is known as one of the smartest players to have played the game. Interviewed by Tennis magazine some years ago he was asked to comment on the keys to playing well, he replied somewhat tersely, "Put the ball over the net."
It may be just that simple. But because we can see through the net many players are truly tricked into trying to hit the ball through the net. Strange but true.
I heard a story from Vic Braden, where he covered the net with sheets and blankets so players could not see through the net, and the net on the adjacent court was not covered. Then for a period of 30 minutes, he counted net errors on both courts and found that players were much more likely to hit the ball up and over the covered net than they were the normal net. Really.
That said, here is a quick fix if you find you are netting more shots than you like (meaning you are normal). As the racquet approaches the ball, note the position of the butt cap. Use your hand to aim the butt cap at the ball, but importantly, aim it so the butt cap is pointing up instead of down at the ball. This upward leverage greatly increases the chances of hitting the ball up.
Mardy Fish, like most pros, points the butt cap up at the ball on this forehand drive.
Note that Tiriac did not say to hit the ball into the court, merely to put the ball up and over the net. There are other issues related to getting the ball back down and into the court, but first things first, put the ball up with an "UP" butt cap.
Scroll through the Pro Strokes Gallery, and you will see constant examples of the "UP" butt cap in all topspin instances.
When Rafter or Sampras or Federer swing down on the underspin backhand, then and only then do we see a "DOWN" butt cap. This has to do with underspin and a compensating open racquet face, but that is another story.
Taking this butt cap analogy one step further, the same applies when serving. As the racquet drops, the secret is how accurately the racquet points "UP" at the ball prior to the hit. Everyone tries to swing up at the serve, and in this case the upward swing is leveraged by this same position. Try it.
As always, we would love to hear your views on the subjects raised in this newsletter. Please click here to send your email directly to me.
(Click link to purchase Jim's McLennan's "Secrets of World Class Footwork Video")
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