Friday, February 22, 2019

4 STEPS IN UNDERSTANDING & MASTERING CONTACT: "Control of Heights"




80% of all the mistakes you will make in tennis will be either in the net, or out over the baseline (the other 20% of the mistakes will come from hitting too far right and too far left).

We can address these two most common mistakes directly, because contact is responsible for both of them.

If you hit the ball too short, your racquet face was too closed on contact with the ball.

If you hit the ball too high and out over the baseline your racquet face was too open at the moment of contact.

Many people confuse the jobs of spin and contact.
When trying to master feel for net clearance don't ask spin to give you feel for height accuracy, that's the job of contact, not spin!

For height accuracy you need to put your awareness in the position of your racquet face and particularly the awareness of whether the racquet face is open or closed. This should be the sole method of achieving net clearance accuracy.

The job of spin is to create the required arc to help keep the ball inside the lines. 

Understanding the two different and distinct functions of contact and spin is a very important component in mastering  control of your groundstrokes.
It is therefore really important to gain enhanced "feel" for your racquet head. 

There are two approaches a player can take to increase feel for their racquet head. Firstly you can hope that your racquet head feel develops from hitting thousands of balls over years of practice. 

However what I have found with this "improvisation" method of gaining feel is it breaks down under pressure.

The other method, and the one I teach my students, is the use of the opposite hand, or non racquet hand to set the racquet angles (closed or open).

When adopting the "Opposite Hand" control the racquet 
with the finger tips... this will give you greater feel for the 
racquet face and ultimately greater feel for your heights

There are several benefits to using the opposite hand, but the one we will focus on here is using it to set the racquet face angles in terms of degrees of closed and open depending on the height you want the ball to cross the net.

Fingers on the throat of the racquet, ready to set the 
racquet head at the desired "Open" or "Closed"
positioned...

Instead of improvising  with your racquet hand (it already has enough work to do!), you will begin setting the racquet face with the opposite hand during the backswing.

For each shot you are deciding what height you want the ball the clear the net. The higher the net clearance, the deeper the ball will land at the other side. The lower the ball crosses the net the shorter the ball will bounce on the other side.

In Summary

1.  Separate the roles of Contact and Spin. They each have distinctly different roles to play. 


2.  Contacts' role is to given you net clearance 


3.  To gain greater awareness of your net clearance (heights), use the opposite hand on the throat of the racquet to set your angles in degrees of Open and Closed


By introducing this second step of 4 Steps in Understanding & Mastering Contact you will increase your  awareness of heights and gain mastery over the reason for 80% of mistakes on groundstrokes.


Please send your comments here to join a discussion on Contact.


4 STEPS IN UNDERSTANDING & MASTERING CONTACT: "The Three Parts of a Swing"




THERE ARE 3 PARTS OF A SWING and each part has its own unique function.

The 3 parts are (1) The Backswing (2) The Contact and (3) The Follow Through. Here is a break down on each of these 3 parts of the swing.

THE BACKSWING: The purpose of your backswing is to supply power to your stroke. The bigger the backswing the more power you can generate.

A return of serve for example doesn't require much backswing generally because the power you need is mostly coming from the serve you are trying to return.

Strokes where you commonly  want to generate more power than normal, are mid-court forehand and shoulder height groundstrokes. It's common to see players taken big backswings on these two options because they want to generate extra power.

THE FOLLOW THROUGH: The Follow Through is the release of energy from the stroke you just completed.

The size of your follow through should be directly related to the amount of backswing you created to hit the ball - no more, no less... they are related to each other, backswing creates power and follow through releases that power.

Follow through also has another very important function to perform. It creates spin.

The higher your hand finishes after contact, the more topspin you can achieve.

If your hand finishes low after contact (chin height), there will be less spin on the ball. If your hand finishes above your head after contact, there will be a lot of topspin.

This demonstration of a running forehand shows the 3 parts of a swing working together to achieve a desired shot...


(1) Because the ball is fast and deep the depth of the backswing is less because his opponent has created all the energy required for the shot. 


(2) The player has positioned the racquet face at the correct angle to send the ball over the net at the desired net clearance. 


(3) The finish is extreme because all that remains for the player to do is create arc and "tail" at the other side of the net to keep the ball inside the baseline.

THE CONTACT: Of the 3 parts of a swing, Contact has perhaps the most important role to play. Contacts' job is to get the ball over the net and in the direction you want.

The racquet face position at the moment of contact will determine where the ball goes. The ball goes solely where the racquet face tells it to go.

In Summary:

1.  The 3 parts of the swing described here all have different functions. Very often players' try to vary these roles. The most common instance of this is when players try to spin the contact in the belief this will give them elevation over the net.  Net clearance is the job of Contact, not spin.

2.  Every stroke is different. Players need to learn when to adjust the amount of backswing, Follow Through or Contact depending on their needs in the point..

This is the third part of 4 STEPS IN UNDERSTANDING & MASTERING CONTACT.  By understanding the clearly defined roles of Back Swing, Follow Through and Contact you will gain greater mastery over your groundstrokes in terms of feel, versatility and adaptability.



Please feel free to comment below to begin a discussion on this post.