Gene’s Tennis Tip: March 2016

Shadow Backhand

Shadow Swing Backhand

People who play tennis for years sometimes lose sight of a simple, but fundamental truth about tennis: it is a SPORT WITH A MOVING BALL.  Yes, I know, you are saying, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.”  But, for beginners and those looking to improve, it is a good idea to keep this in mind.  Work on basic fundamental aspects of hand-eye coordination and athleticism, like catching.  What you are doing every time you hit a tennis ball is using the palm of your hand to control the racket which “catches” the ball and throws it back to the other side.  If you are having difficulty controlling or making good contact with the ball, I recommend going out with your kids or other players and playing catch.  Work on catching the ball with one or two hands on the side of your body, in the same spot as you would make contact with a tennis ball.  Think of yourself as a wide-receiver in football.  They are trained to catch the ball with their hands, not their bodies.  Do not use your body to “trap” the ball.  Catch it with your hand or hands only.

Another thing to practice is movement to the ball.  A great way to get better at movement is to do shadow movement and shadow swings.  In fact, this exercise can be done as an excellent warm up before you play a match.

Shadow Swing Forehand

Shadow Swing Forehand

Place 2 balls on the court, one on the forehand side and one on the backhand side.  Start in the middle of the court, then take a split step.  Now, pivot your feet and hips and turn your shoulders.  Then, take your racket ALL THE WAY BACK, move to the ball, and swing over the ball that you placed on the ground as if you are hitting it.  After following through, push off your outside foot and shuffle back to the middle of the court, making sure your toes are pointed at the net so you can move in any direction your opponent hits the ball.  Repeat this pattern for both the forehand side and backhand side 10-40 times per side, depending on how serious you want to be about improving your movement.


Set-up for shadow swing warm-up.

Set-up for shadow swing warm-up.


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