Coach Patrick’s Tennis Tips

Dear members, I hope that you and your family are coping in the current lockdown situation. Here are a few tips to keep tennis fresh in your minds. Hope to see you back on the courts soon.

When playing tennis it is important to learn the basic technical components of the forehand and backhand from the outset.   This will enable you to:-

Technical Considerations on the Forehand and Backhand

  • Understand what you need to fix on your stroke when you make an error (tennis becomes frustrating if you continue to make the same error).
  • Get to know how it feels to hit that perfect shot.
  • Hit a more consistent ball (good rally’s equal good workout).
  • Have a positive and fun learning experience.

Tennis Fundamentals

  • Make sure you have the correct grip:  that you change to forehand and backhand grips for each stroke. It is also important that if you have a two-handed backhand that you have your dominant hand at the butt of the racket and your less dominant hand above it. You should not have your hands overlapping.
  • Strings need to be pointed towards the net when making contact with the ball, not up towards the sky or towards the other courts.
  • Early preparation, otherwise you will start to panic.
  • If you have time plant your feet in order to be balanced when the ball bounces.
  • You need to be behind the ball when it bounces.
  • Give yourself plenty of space to swing at the ball.
  • Swing from the hip if at all possible.
  • Make contact with the ball in front of your body.
  • Keep your racket closed in order to be able to swing through the ball.
  • Good follow through and recovery for next shot, recovery can be backward, sideways or up the court. It depends on the shot you have executed. Just remember not to ball watch. Move to the correct position and keep on your toes.
  • Maintain a good balance after swinging in order to be able to recover quickly for the next shot.

NOTE:  If you prefer to hit a forehand to a backhand the recovery position would not be back to the tee. It is slightly to the backhand side of the tee to protect your opponent from targeting your weaker side.

Tactical Considerations on the Forehand and Backhand

The most important aspect of tennis is to be able to keep the ball in court.   This will enable you to play against an opponent and get plenty of exercise.   The shot that you hit will depend on the ball that your opponent sends to you.   It is necessary to get the balance right as if you go for too much when you are under pressure you will make forced errors if you go for a winner when you should be playing a rally shot you will make unforced errors which are silly mistakes and if you go for too little when you have an opportunity to win the point you are letting your opponent back into the point. You as a player will have a particular game style.  My advice to you though is to not let fear control you. If you have a good opportunity to hit a winner “Go for it”. You don’t want to be getting yourself into a winning situation on the court and letting your opponent off the hook.   Some helpful tips are listed below:-

  • If you behind the baseline you need to hit the ball higher over the net. Your objective is to keep the ball deep in order to keep your opponent back, preferably behind the baseline.
  • If your opponent has you under pressure be defensive, make them play another shot. Don’t give them a cheap point.
  • If you are hitting from the baseline play a rally shot. If you have a bit of time on the ball try to move your opponent, don’t go for too much though as you do not want to make an unforced error.
  • If you are inside the baseline focus on getting your opponent moving in order to force an error out of them.
  • If you are inside the service box aim to hit a winner and approach the net.

(Once you get the tactics right and are playing the correct shot you will keep improving).

Technical Considerations on the Forehand and Backhand Volley

There are two different types of volley namely the high volley and the low volley.   When the ball dips below the net before you have the opportunity to make contact you need to hit a low volley.  In order to hit a successful forehand or backhand volley you need to:-

  • Have the correct grip.   Grip is the same for both forehand and backhand.
  • Turn your body to hit on either the forehand or backhand side.
  • Your racket needs to be slightly open in order to lift the ball over the net. The lower the ball dips over the net the more open your racket needs to be.
  • Contact point needs to be in front of body.
  • Do not swing, just block it back.
  • Recovery quickly back into position for next shot.

A high volley is when your opponent hits a high ball to you that is well above net height.  In order to be effective in the execution of this shot you need to:-

  • Take the ball high, do not let it drop.
  • Turn your body to hit on either the forehand or backhand side.
  • Racket needs to be closed if you are going for power and slightly open if you are going for an angle.
  • Contact point needs to be in front of body.
  • Slight swing if you are going for power, no backswing if you are going for angle.
  • Recovery quickly back into position for next shot.

Tactical Considerations on the Forehand and Backhand Volley

For a low volley you need to play either an aggressive or defensive shot.   It depends on the ball that is sent to you:-

  • If the ball is coming fast at you just try to get it back over the net.
  • If you have time on the ball hit a short ball over the net, if possible hit with an angle so that the ball is going away from your opponent.

High volleys are aggressive shots.   You need to either hit a winner or force an error out of your opponent:-

  • A high volley that you hit hard with a closed racket face needs to be hit into the open court.
  • A high volley with angle needs to be hit into the service box bouncing as close as possible to the tram line.
Enjoy: Hopefully, you and your family can put this into practice when you get back out on the court.