Monday, May 22, 2017


Everyone talks about fundamentals and how important they are.  Anyone playing well is said to have “great fundamentals”, while anyone playing poorly is accused of having “poor fundamentals”. But have you ever tried to find a list of these fundamentals? If such a list existed surely this would be of immense help to players and coaches alike.

The truth is that you will never find a definitive list of the “Tennis Fundamentals”. Although players are continually admired or criticized about their fundamentals and although training programs around the world attempt to install “fundamentals” in their players, there is no definitive list available.

So let’s start defining what exactly a fundamental is, or should be. I believe a fundamental is something that cannot be taken out, in other words you cannot play without it. Think about that for a moment. What elements cannot be taken out of our game? Is the backswing a fundamental? No, because some volleys, service returns and half volleys don’t require a backswing.

Is footwork a fundamental? No, because sometimes a ball hit into your body doesn’t give you time to move your feet and wheelchair players manage just fine without the use of their feet. Is the follow-through a fundamental? No, because half volleys, some volleys and the return of serve don’t always require a follow-through.

I could come up with many more mythical “fundamentals” that are actually cosmetics and not always necessary to execute the shot correctly. If these cosmetics were eliminated you would be able to play the game just fine.

Here are the 3 Fundamentals I teach every day. They cannot be taken out of tennis, without them you cannot play the game.

You can have the most perfect backswing and follow-through in the world but that never guarantees that the ball goes to its intended target.   The ball goes where the racquet strings “point”, regardless of backswing and the follow-through. Contact is a Fundamental.

Your relationship with the ground when you play incorporates multiple elements such as movement, balance and timing. Without any one of these elements you provide energy or control to the ball. Energy and timing come from your interaction with the ground. The correct use of Ground is a Fundamental.

Anytime you hit the ball you create ball rotation (spin). Beginners create ball rotation almost by accident when they hit the ball. Advanced players use spin as a tool to help achieve speed and angles while still controlling the ball in the court. Spin is present in every shot and is a Fundamental of tennis.

In all three instances you cannot eliminate Contact, Ground or Spin from the game. They are fundamental. Your level of manipulation of these fundamentals and your ability to master the use of them defines your ability as a player.