When it comes to practice, there is no offseason in tennis. Indoors or outdoors, tennis players are constantly looking to master a new shot or tighten something up to find an edge on the court.
With that in mind, here are a few tips from Seth Walrath, the Middle States Junior Development Program Coordinator, which will help you get the most out of your game.
Breathe out when striking the ball
Even if you don’t believe me, just give this one a shot next time you’re out hitting. You should start by trying the opposite. So next time you take a shot, just take a deep breath in. You’ll notice that you become tight and more tense. By breathing out, your body relaxes and you’ll feel more comfortable hitting through the ball.
A good way to make sure you are breathing while striking the ball is by saying “yes” at contact. But hey, just make sure you’re not obnoxious about the grunting. We all know how that can be.
Keep your head still
We all have a tendency to watch our shots. It’s only natural, right? We want to see where we hit the ball, watch the spin and enjoy seeing our opponent scramble. But by keeping your head steady at the contact point, accuracy dramatically improves. You may be surprised at how accurate you will become if you just wait that extra half-second to see where the ball goes.
Hit to big targets
Visualize the court with three center lines. You already have one line, so simply imagine two imaginary lines on the deuce- and ad-courts.
Now, take aim for your imaginary lines on cross-court and down-the-line shots. You’ll quickly find yourself cutting down on unforced errors and extending points.
Stay low when coming to the net
When playing a point, most balls bounce a few feet before or behind the service line. So it’s safe to say the probability of the ball bouncing in that area while transitioning to the net will be high. For this reason, it’s important to stay low when crossing through this area on the way to the net. Staying low will help keep you prepared to hit that shoe-shine volley.
Widen your stance for better balance
Solid balance is a key mechanic to any stroke. We all have a tendency to play tennis in a comfortable position with our feet about shoulder-width apart, almost as if we are standing or walking. By getting into a wider stance, though, you will become better balanced and a bit lower, allowing you to have a strong foundation and smooth swing path. If you don’t believe me, try the push test. Stand tall with your feet together and have your friend push you gently. Then, stand in an athletic position with your feet wider than shoulder width and repeat. Better balance means more athletic movements, better placement and more points won.