Acceleration Tennis at Meadowood (Napa) Resort - Doug King
Doug King invites you to join him at the beautiful Meadowood Resort in Napa, California where he teaches his Acceleration Tennis program. Doug is one of the country's foremost tennis teaching innovators. Founder of Acceleration Tennis, a revolutionary teaching system, Doug King is leading the way in reinterpreting the traditional tennis model.
Click here to see a video tour of Doug King's program at Meadowood Resort.
See Doug King's new DVD: "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin," Members Public
"What's New" Product Video
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Tennis: Complementary Sports and Drills
David W. Smith Senior Editor, TennisOne
As a teaching pro for over thirty years, one thing that I often saw was the acquisition of tennis skills, faster and more effectively done when the student had already had racquet sport experience. Badminton, ping pong, and racquetball all provided a level of hand-eye coordination that helped most players gain valuable tennis skills.
While some aspects of these other sports also could include elements that sometimes make tennis more difficult, (wrist action, strategies, and footwork patterns), the majority of players who participated in these sports acquired necessary tennis skills faster than those students who had not.
In addition to other racquet sports that can provide elements of learning that are complementary to tennis, there are many drills that may not necessarily fit the "conventional" drills that players think of when they think of tennis drills.
While there are several excellent articles found in the TennisOne Lesson Library (including two articles called "Rounding Out Drills" where I cover a wide range of drills), here I have included a couple of ideas on drills and, in addition, I wanted to discuss the other racquet sports and their contributions to an individual's tennis game.
The mature player (those over 20 when taking up the sport) starting to take lessons and going to tennis camps to improve needs to learn to use body weight to gain power and use a classic swing so that muscles already beginning to stiffen slightly with age will not be forced to stress maturing joints.
Mini-Tennis and Volleys
One of the most beneficial warm-up drills for tennis players is mini-tennis. This short game rally with players hitting mini-topspin or slice strokes, also can define a player's ability (or inability) to hit with control and mastery. Mini-tennis reveals a player's understanding and execution of such strokes (albeit, short versions of typical topspin or slice strokes). Being able to hit a controlled topspin or slice stroke so that it lands short of the service line and at speeds that are manageable by hitting partners is a skilled activity.
Nothing is more bothersome to me than watching a couple players (especially senior players who take longer to warm up their joints and muscles) starting off hitting balls baseline to baseline with full swinging groundstrokes. The stress to the joints, tendons, and ligaments, when not warmed up, and trying to hit balls that are coming with relatively higher pace, is very damaging. And hitting a ball late with a full swing can bring on tennis elbow faster than a player can say "ouch!" Come the winter when the air temperatures are far lower, this calamity of warming up with full swinging strokes can be even more detrimental.
Even before mini-tennis, I recommend players hitting volleys as a warm up. But the type of volleys I recommend are not the typical horizontal plane volleys. I prefer to have players very close to the net hitting volleys almost vertical to each other, allowing the ball to go up and down before the partner volleys the same shot back. This action can get the legs involved and allows the players to block balls back, keeping a rally of ten or twenty shots or more in play.
This pattern of hitting more vertical shots allow players to get under the ball and gives players time to keep a rally going without too many panic situations. Hitting volleys on a level or horizontal plane usually produces shots that are typically angled down lower and does not allow the player to keep the rally going with much control since they have far less time to prepare the racquet to hit such balls.
I recommend volleys and mini tennis for at least five to ten minutes no matter what age the players are.
Don’t forget mini-tennis can also be hit with sharp angles. Too many players don’t realize that mini-tennis can be used to execute crosscourt angles. This is extremely helpful for doubles players who are often faced with a half-volley out wide and must return this shot out of the reach of the opposing net player who is usually down the line from the player.
Another mini-tennis drill can feature one player up close at the net hitting soft volleys while the other player allows these volleys to bounce before hitting a mini-tennis topspin or slice back to them. There are also mini-tennis drills that feature specific movement, such as one up and one back as just described but the players switch places within each two-shot rally. (The volley player moves back quickly and the player hitting the soft topspin moves up after hitting their shot and becomes the volley player.)
As mentioned, there are several racquet sports that also provide learning and experience that can contribute to learning tennis at a higher level. Here is a brief description of these other sports and how they can indeed contribute to your tennis game.
Badminton is a very underrated sport in the U.S. The common perception of badminton is along the lines of croquet or horseshoes – a game that is played on the grass at a picnic. The reality is, badminton is one of the fastest of all racquet sports, with skilled players hitting shuttlecocks well over 150 mph and movement that includes nearly four miles of sprinting in the course of a 2-out-of-3 game match of singles!
I grew up playing badminton at the national level when I was only ten years old. Because badminton was not offered at the time in high school for boys, I somewhat reluctantly decided to play tennis. Yet, it was my badminton experience that allowed me to develop a very effective overhead and serve, as well as great touch, drop sots, angles, lobs, and footwork for tennis. My difficulty for a few early weeks of tennis was to eliminate the use of the wrist on groundstrokes.
Click photo: Pickleball is the closest racquet sport to tennis and many of the skills are transferable.
While racquetball is perhaps the closest to tennis in terms of equipment (a strung racquet similar in shape and construction to a tennis racquet…only shorter), racquetball has usually been the least complementary to tennis players overall. The slap-shot nature of the game, the lack of spin in general, and the lack of a net or hitting the ball to an opponent—and having it be hit back to you—generally limits the sport’s transference to tennis. Yet, that said, racquetball still provides excellent hand-eye coordination with a racquet and a moving ball.
The USTA's "Quickstart" Tennis Program focuses on teaching tennis using shorter racquets, slower balls, and smaller courts. I believe this is an excellent approach to tennis and have argued for this approach for years. Instead of changing strokes to accommodate the relatively larger size of court for kids, they are finally teaching proper strokes with appropriate equipment that kids can handle.
Click photo: Pickleball is a great way to develop mini tennis and volley skills.
Pickleball is a sport that uses a ¼ sized tennis court, a tennis type net, (two inches lower in the middle than a tennis net), and a "whiffleball ball' that is made of plastic with holes, and just slightly larger in diameter than a tennis ball.
Pickleball is the closest to tennis in terms of skills and strategies of all the racquet sports. In fact, tennis players are flocking to Pickleball because of the inherent skills they already possess from tennis. But, for junior players, Pickleball offers just the right elements for them to develop tennis strokes and strategies within a very fast-learning, social, and enjoyable atmosphere.
In fact, in Pickleball, a typical hour of doubles or singles can produce over 1200 shots hit. Compared to standard tennis (even between fairly skilled players, where less than 100 shots per hour are hit, Pickleball offers the fun of longer rallies, faster between point time, and a very fast learning period).
I’ve been playing Pickleball now for about four months and really enjoy the changes it offers, keeping my tennis fresh and fun too. I would highly recommend tennis players picking up the game if offered nearby, and see how Pickleball can actually help your tennis game. (Our state doubles tennis champion was a freshman this past year and he played a ton of Pickleball during the weeks leading up to the state championships!)
All in all, experience many racquet sports. They can all offer a wide range of learning skills that can complement and improve your tennis game.
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.
From the Bank of the West
The Art of the Poach
Former world number one doubles champion and six time grand slam doubles and mixed doubles winner, Ken Flach talks about what he calls the most important part of doubles, the art of the poach. In this tutorial, Ken shows you how and when to poach and what the obligations are for the net player. This is a must for any team that wants to be successful and play aggressive, proactive doubles.
Service Injuries on the Women's Tour
A few weeks before the recent French Open, the ESPN sent Mary Carillo and her team to the Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, FL to talk to Nick, Pat Dougherty, and a few of the other coaches and trainers trying to find an answer for why the women are getting more hurt on the serve and why the women's serves are generally weaker than the men's. Pat has some interesting ideas on the subject.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Robin Soderling's Backhand
This imposing Swede has finally stepped onto center stage. A threat on all surfaces, and with the coaching of former world #1 Magnus Norman behind him, many in Sweden predict he will topple Federer and Nadal in the rankings and ascend to the top spot. Following back to back French Open final appearances, with wins over Nadal (2009) and Federer (2010), this year Robin Soderling holds wins over Cilic, Berdych, Murray, Tsonga, and Davydenko. Huge flat hits off both wings, somewhat like Del Potro – the high kicking Nadal like topspin shots matter little to this big Swede – lets see where he takes it this year. New this issue, Robin Soderling'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):
- "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
- "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
- "Best of Ken DeHart," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin," Doug King 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
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