This article featured in the February 2014 edition of Australian Tennis Magazine, subscribe now!
Making the little things count is as true in tennis as it is in life. Some of Australia’s most credentialed coaches shared some small tips that could make a big difference to your game.
With all the athletes we work with at the National Academy in Sydney there is an enormous focus on a player’s balance, their base and their posture. A strong core and the ability to use the ground correctly is so important to enjoy your tennis. Remember the best movers in tennis are the best players.
Ben Pyne, National Academy Coach, NSW
The right grip
You will often achieve your best tennis results using the continental grip. The benefits of using this grip include:
- Greater control and accuracy
- The ability to hit a variety of serves with different types of spin (slice, topspin, kick, flat)
- More power and speed
Jarrad Bunt, National Academy Coach, NSW
Get a grip
Tennis is played well at every level when rhythm and timing is present. Try relaxing your grip pressure. This can improve the flow of the swing and create more power with less effort. Make your tennis flow like music and you will enjoy this great game even more!
Mark Draper, National Academy Coach, Qld
Develop pre-point routines
The majority of your time during a match is spent between points and game changeovers. Use this time effectively by developing a pre-point routine. You can benefit by:
- Recovering physically and mentally from your previous point
- Maintaining positivity and relaxation
- Returning to your optimal arousal level
- Moving your attention to the next point
Andrew Roberts, National Academy Manager, WA
From the moment you complete your shot, anticipation of the next ball should commence. Watching the ball and your opponent closely will allow you to read their patterns of play. Once you start anticipating your opponent’s shots consistently, you can prepare earlier and this will greatly improve the quality of your own shots and make a huge difference to your game.
Todd Larkham, National Academy Head Coach, ACT
If your tennis game is feeling tired and strung out, then try getting a new restring. Want more power? Then opt for a looser tension. Need more control? Then a tighter string tension is the way to go. With a new grip and new restring, your racquet (and game) will feel brand new.
Anthony Richardson, National Academy Coach, Qld
Get the equipment that’s right for you! Use a frame that complements your game style, you might require more power, more control or a lighter frame that is more maneuverable. If you are happy with your current frame, there are a variety of strings that can improve your game.
Shannon Nettle, Australian Fed Cup Squad Coach
One metre closer
A small change that can make a big difference is playing one metre closer to the baseline, especially when returning serve. This will help players trying to play more aggressive and will allow the player to take time from his opponent, open more angles and get more short balls. From there, you can potentially make more winners or come into the net more often.
Carlos Cuadrado, National Academy Coach, Vic
Play the percentages
Rally crosscourt and attack down the line! This simple tactical fundamental will help you to reduce unforced errors by hitting more balls over the lowest part of the net and through the longest part of the court. It will also help you to move your opponent and open up attacking opportunities.
Anthony Richardson, National Academy Coach, Qld
Good contact, on a consistent basis, is one of the most important keys to hitting the ball well and more importantly getting the ball in the court more often. As a reference point, contact between racquet and ball should be made in front and a comfortable distance from the body, below the armpit and above the waist.
I would encourage all players – social level to elite – to take note of their better shots and be mindful of where contact is being made in relation to their body. The key is to then replicate this as often as possible. This will then bring the feet into it. The better the footwork, the more likely it is you will be able to make contact in the same place more often. If you can achieve this then more balls will not only land in the court but will also possess a greater quality of ball flight.
Rod Leeds, National Academy Manager, Vic
Find five – for better performance and longevity
If you want to perform better on court you need to be more professional about looking after your body and doing things that will help your overall movement and footwork.
So often I see social players that are time poor racing from work to the courts for their weekly pennant match and they go straight from their car to start their match. Many people have been sitting down at their office desks for long periods prior to this and just finding five minutes to do a quick dynamic physical warm-up will give so many benefits to body maintenance, longevity and immediate performance in the movement department.
Find five minutes and do a small jog, side steps, skips, forward backwards movements, knee lifts, quick feet shuffles, some shadow work, gentle lunges, leg and arm swings. Add a hitting wall to sharpen your reflexes and you are ready to go!
Simon Youl, National Academy Head Coach, Tas