Coaching Tip - February 2022

Shot preparation

Combine footwork and racquet preparation
To improve your tennis strokes

Shot preparation or getting ready to hit the ball is as important when making good tennis strokes as the execution of the shot itself.
Without good preparation your body is not able to produce the balance, power and control needed to hit an effective tennis stroke.

Good shot preparation is determined by two key elements
• Footwork
• Racquet preparation

Footwork enables a player to move into the correct position to hit the ball
Your coach will tell you to
• Split step just prior to your opponent hitting the ball
• Pivot your foot (the closest to the ball) in the direction that the ball is heading
• move to the ball as soon as possible
• get balanced in position to hit the ball
These points are critical when establishing a solid foundation for a properly timed backswing

Racquet preparation is the
• backswing taken before the point of contact
• key to generating power by increased racquet head speed
• essential for hitting the ball hard

Get the most out of your racquet preparation
• timing is critical
Late and early backswings will lead to mistimed and inconsistent shots
• after your split step
Your racquet should be taken back at the same time as you pivot your foot and move into position

Practice the footwork skills involved in moving to the ball and at the same time preparing your backswing so that you can master the basic timing involved allowing you to improve your consistency.

There are 2 different types of backswing that the majority of tennis players use.
• Straight backswing
• Circular backswing
Often players use a mixture of these backswings.

Straight backswing
The simplicity of taking the racquet straight back is attractive to many
• particularly for beginners to intermediate level players
• the racquet tip moves back first with the face closed at waist level

In particular when hitting a forehand your
• elbow should be close to your body
• arm should be relaxed and slightly bent on the take back
• left hand (for right handed players) is used to take your racquet back into the ready to hit position
Circular Backswing
The majority of professional players use a circular backswing which provides a continuous and rhythmic motion
• the tip of the racquet still goes back first but with the arm and wrist following
• the racquet head lifts to eye level, the arm bends at the elbow (not the wrist) and the body rotates to the hitting side
• the racquet head starts to drop near the end of the backswing and the elbow straightens at the ready to hit position
• this backswing is more of an arc

Players often have problems with their backswing particularly during match play.
The common mistakes are
• the backswing is started too late or too early leading to many unforced errors as well as the usual forced errors
• not getting to the harder ball or not moving into the correct position prior to hitting the ball
• poor technique for racquet preparation
In particular
• the elbow is too far from the body causing excessive wrist movement
• the wrist drags the racquet back so that the racquet face is not in the correct position at contact
• the backswing is too high not allowing you to hit up on the ball
• the arm is too straight (not relaxed) on the forehand or too bent on the backhand

Experiment by using the tips re racquet preparation and footwork during your training sessions so that they become a part of your game play on match day.

Good footwork and racquet preparation are fundamental skills required to play tennis at a higher level and must be practised so that they become a part of your muscle memory.

These skills can be learned and/or improved by taking some private lessons with the Club Professional at your local Tennis Club.

I hope that you can adopt the coaching tips above so that you can become more consistent and as a result take your tennis game to the next level.

Try not to confuse yourself by thinking too much.
Keep it Simple.
Relax and let it happen

Let me know if you can think of any other options to help you achieve a more consistent and effective game.

Tennis the game of a lifetime

Contact me by Email if you have any comments or helpful Tennis hints.
Let me know the things that work for you.

Please direct any comments to:
Steve James
HEAD coach