Of course, there is more to learning tennis than simply knowing how to hit a tennis ball with topspin. In order to play your best, you will eventually have to improve in a number of different areas, such as mental toughness, strategy, and physical fitness – to name just a few.
However, building strong, efficient and effective strokes can help you make improvements in all of these areas. As you begin to develop ‘a game’ always remember, it’s impossible to execute a strategy if you can’t control the ball. So, obviously it follows that improving your strokes makes even the simplest strategy much more effective.
Building on this concept, it naturally follows that you can’t improve your physical fitness if you spend more time picking up balls than hitting them. So, again, improving your strokes simultaneously improves your physical fitness.
What about mental toughness? Well, you can’t be mentally tough if you don’t have confidence in your shot-making skills and ability. Again, it follows that improving your strokes builds confidence and mental toughness.
Just as in all ‘ball sports’ a great tennis player must be able to control the ball. Your success in tennis depends on your ability to control the tennis ball and your strokes are the tools that get that job done.
When you look closely at every sport or game involving a ball the players at the highest level of the game invariably use spin to control their shots. This is true in everything from basketball (think a delicate finger roll off the backboard or a three point jump shot) to table games like pool or billiards where the real key to the game is applying the correct spin on the cue ball in order to control where it ends up and leave “shape” or position for your next shot.
The ability to apply this essential spin in tennis all starts with using the proper grips for the different types of shots that you need to execute.
Individual styles of tennis games can vary and although we do not advocate a particular style – especially when considering tennis for beginners – we do believe that if you keep in mind the ultimate goal of applying the desired spin on the tennis ball to impart control you will have the most fun and success. Numerous styles can be applied to every stroke.
If you observe the top ten tennis players all have exceptional forehands but you will see a bunch of different styles – eastern grips and western grips, open stances and closed stances, straight back swings and looped backs swings.
Both shots are backhand ground strokes, but note the differences in the position of the player’s feet and their bodies. But more importantly, now focus on how these two shots are similar.
The strokes of a top player may look different from one shot to the next, but the essential qualities of the shot will remain pretty constant. Therefore, keep in mind what effective and efficient strokes have in common.
Remember, players of all abilities who begin the improvement process can benefit from seeking out the common qualities of top-notch strokes. While there is an obvious disparity when you compare the skills of a world-class player and those of a recreational player, both are capable of achieving a high degree of relative success in the quality of their tennis just by keeping the fundamentals of spin and control and stroke efficiency in mind as they develop to their full potential.
In teaching the great game of tennis, we have never seen a lack of athletic skills get in the way of anyone with a sincere desire to play better tennis. It is clear that there is no connection between a player’s age or athletic ability and the degree of improvement that he or she is capable of achieving if you keep in mind the basics of control with spin and modeling the sound fundamentals that all tennis professionals share.
Watch the videos again, and this time, pay special attention to the path of the racket and the contact point that the players employ. Try to emulate these players and work on the common qualities that facilitate the improvement process. Be willing to experiment, and try to invest the time and energy necessary to reinforce the things that work, it will pay off and you’ll absolutely love playing the game.
Without exception, these three qualities must be present for a substantial improvement to occur. To improve your tennis, you must be willing to experiment. Improvement requires problem-solving skills, and there is usually more than one effective way to hit the ball.
Experimentation is the only way to explore the possibilities.
When you look back at some of the famous tennis players from a prior era, Bjorn Borg’s solutions were different from John McEnroe’s. Or if you take famous female tennis players, for example, Martina Navratilova’s solutions were different from Chris Evert’s. However they all used similar stroke fundamentals. (Just a funny little story here … the other day during a lesson, I overheard two of the players in the drills commenting to each other between working on their tennis backhands … “I wonder, how old is tennis player Chris Everett? You know she’s still one of the all-time great tennis babes. It just goes to show you how great tennis can be for staying in shape.” Well, I had to chuckle, but you know it’s true.) By the way, Chris Evert was born on December 20, 1954 – I’ll let you do the math.
And, even though the modern game has evolved a lot in terms of speed and technology the basic stroke efficiencies have endured.
If a particular piece of advice makes sense to you, give it your best shot; if it doesn’t work, you can try something else.
Improving your tennis often takes a dynamic commitment. You’ll need to experiment until you find what works for you.
Make a commitment and study the common stroke fundamentals of the professional tennis players and compare and contrast them to the various players that you encounter around your local tennis club or park. Just keep working on your tennis technique.
If you make that commitment to constant game improvement anything is possible. And, if you do this you’ll love playing the game. Just give it your best shot, and remember to have fun playing tennis while you go along your journey of constant improvement.