Tennis footwork is an often overlooked area for beginner players and even some intermediate players. Many focus on the upper body and arm movements but neglect the importance of moving to a ball, being in the correct position to hit the ball and recover efficiently.
Use on the split-step religiously is the best start for every shot. The trick is the timing of when to do it.
If playing from the baseline you want to be mid-air when the opponent makes contact with the ball so the split-step lands a moment after contact.
If you or the opponent are playing from the net your reaction time is a lot less so you want to make the landing of the spilt step at the same time contact is made.
Once you've done the split-step, you know which direction to move. Make the first step with the foot in which direction that is.
So, if its a forehand you need to play, step right with the right foot and continue to the ball (right-handers)
This step with help initially tur the hips and shoulder and assist the take-back of the racquet.
My coach used to say "make some noise with those feet!". As you get close to the ball, shuffle and make little adjustment steps to the position before loading to hit.
Chances are if you take one big step for a ball you won't be in the right position. If you make lots of little steps you will more precise in your positioning.
Here are some footwork positions for different shots. All are assuming you're a right-hander.
Open stance - Right leg load. For wide/defence and neutral balls. Return of serve.
Semi-open stance - Right to left load. Neutral/attack balls
Closed stance - Left leg load. Attack balls.
Closed stance - Right leg load. For Wide, defence neutral and attack balls. Return of service if possible.
Open stance - Left leg load. Wide and defence balls. Return of serve.
Closed stance - Left foot for forehand volley, right foot for the backhand volley.
Open stance - Try not to use unless desperate and can't reach the ball with the closed stance.
Now the shot has been made, you want to recover back to the middle of the two extreme angles the opponent can hit too. Ideally, push off the outside leg propelling you back and side gallop until you have to split step again.
Next time you play, try to implement some of these tennis tips and I'm sure you be floating like a butterfly all over the court, just like Federer.
Monthly Tennis Coaching Pointers - January 2019
Following on with our new 5 Tennis Tips feature to the Four Seasons Tennis Blog, today's new 5 tips are focused on the volley and net game.
In our modern tennis era, the net game has lost its way in singles match play. With new techniques and powerful racquets creating heavy spin and fast-paced shots, you don’t always get the time to get to the net and close the point.
In doubles, the net game is as strong as ever. Tactically you want to close the net and shut down the angles, which is easier for 2 players covering the doubles court.
For players wanting to add another element to their game, or those trying to sharpen their net play, these tips will help you achieve more when closer to the net.
Tennis Tip 1 – Get a Grip!
Use the same grip for both forehand and backhand volleys, that is, the continental grip (2).
If you’re changing between the eastern forehand grip (3) for forehand volleys, and eastern backhand grip (1) for backhand volleys, you don’t have time to set up the correct technique and be able to place the ball as well.
Tennis Tip 2 – Tisk, Tisk, Wrist
Keep your wrist firm and braced when playing a volley. Most other shots have a relaxed wrist for more racquet head speed.
Try not to choke the racquet, but don’t have a wet fish hand either.
Tennis Tip 3 – Two Left Feet?
Step the opposite foot to which side of the body you’re hitting the ball on. Push off the back leg and lean into the shot, stepping the front foot at moment of contact on the ball.
Right-handed players would push off the right foot and land with the left foot when playing a forehand volley.
Tennis Tip 4 – Chicken Wings
Keep the elbows in front of the body when waiting for the ball and split stepping, then open the racquet and punch the ball in front of your body.
Tennis Tip 5 – Close the Net
The closer you are to the net, the better the angle you can play. Don’t wait back on the service line all day. Move forward and put pressure on the opponent. However, if you stand too close to the net for too long, or at the wrong time, you leave yourself open for lobs.
Thank you for reading. If you have any requests please let me know :)
Christmas is nearly here!
Treat your significant other, kids, friend or yourself to the greatest gift of all, tennis lessons!
We're doing a special discount on private lessons this December. Purchases will receive a gift certificate with a special msg from you.
This can be used for private tennis lessons or personal training/tennis fitness sessions.
* Purchase to be made by 25th December 2018.
* One-time price for new clients only.
Aim to land your split step a moment after your opponent hits the ball. You want to be at the height of the jump when they contact the ball, then land in the split momentarily afterwards. This timing can be tricky at first but will help you with the momentum to move into position for the shot to come.
Rafael Nadal doing a split step before hitting his trademark forehand.
Tennis Tip 2 – Bend Your Knees on the Serve
When throwing the ball for the serve, start bending your knees when the throwing arm starts rising. You should get to the lowest part of the bend when the ball reaches its peak then drive upwards to start hitting the ball.
Notice Pete Sampras’ smooth knee bend on the serve, one of the greatest ever!
The Sampras and Federer serves are things of beauty!
Once you’ve hit a groundstroke, forehand or backhand, and are recovering back into position, push off with the outside leg and crossover before side-stepping and doing the split step. This is a fast and balanced way to recover.
Watch Nishikori crossover his steps after a winning forehand.
Watch Andy Murray practice movement and footwork. Notice the crossover steps.
As soon as you know you’re hitting a forehand or backhand, turn your torso to the hitting side and watch the ball come from over your shoulder. This unit turn of the upper body will generate power as you turn back into the contact point and will help with balance. Your shoulders shouldn’t face the net all the time.
Serena Williams shoulder turn before massive forehand.
Wawrinka shoulder turn for both forehand and backhand.
Ideally, when you close the net for the volley you want to contact the ball above the net height. This gives you more angles to put the ball away and force the opponent to hit a ball from below the net height.
Pat Rafter hitting a volley above the net height, then Rafter digging out a low volley.
Next month there will be 5 more tips to work on. Keep on training!
The social will run from 12-2pm on Sundays with refreshments on the day. There will be 2 divisions based on age/standard of play and each player will have at least 3 matches and a mix of singles and doubles. A coach will be there to organise who is playing who and keep things running smoothly.
We recommend the Junior Social to players who have had lessons for a while and can rally and serve. 2nd serve underarm is allowed if needed for younger kids.
5 weeks is discounted $75.
Casual days costs $20
You can bring cash on the first day.
27 Oct - 3 Nov - 10 Nov - 17 Nov - 24 Nov
Bookings to be made by 25th October 2018.
As you can see in the picture below, Marcus has a wonderful take back for his forehand. Some key elements for developing a solid are:
Today's coaching tip is a good counter-punching strategy but can also be used in any old point, especially if the opponent is constantly playing to your backhand.
Simply put you play a high, deep topspin crosscourt (CC) backhand, then a low slice down the line (DTL). Your aim is to push the opponent right back in the court and force him or her to play above the shoulder height with the most likely return to be a short CC slice, or something mid-court. Having anticipated the short return you move forwards cutting down your opponent's reaction time down and playing your DTL shot. This means she has less reaction time they have to cover a lot of court to reach the ball. Another benefit from forcing her to play the high ball then a low ball below the net height, is it’s the perfect setup for an approach to the net and volley.
If you're playing an opponent who is aware of these types of tactics you will have to wait for the most opportune moment and the weak return from them. So keep rolling the high loopy backhands CC and be patient. You’ll get your chance.