The first thing to know about grass courts is that they’re fast – much faster than clay and hard courts.
When the ball hits the surface, blades of grass are flattened and the ball skids off the court fast and low.
By late summer, when the grass has been worn down, you’ll also find the bounce is very unpredictable.
IS IT ALL SERVE-AND-VOLLEY?
Big servers have always been successful at Wimbledon with the ball flying off the surface. And those who have mixed it up with a solid volley have won many titles at SW19.
Serve-and-volley play works for a number of reasons:
- it keeps the ball off the ground so you avoid unpredictable bounces
- fast serves are made faster because the ball skids off the court
You should also develop a good sliced backhand
since the ball stays lower to the ground.
But it’s not true that only serve-and-volley players prosper – in fact, on the tour there are few serve-and-volleyers left.
Baseline players need to think about ending points quickly as well
– if you’re a slogger, it’s important to work on hitting powerful winners and aiming down the line.
Did you manage to read part 9 last week based on improving your volley technique, I had some great feedback from that blog post. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to have a read
In the part we are going to look at simple ways to improve your smash, specifically at the arm movement. As a doubles player, the smash is an essential weapon in your arsenal since you are looking to spend the majority of your time at the net and closing the net down.
The key to improving your overhead is understanding, learning, and practising a three essential elements:
- Unit turn
- Movement (footwork)
- The arm swing
In this blog will will focus on the arm movement.
Before I start discussing the arm moevment, I want to stress the necessity to learn and to use the continental grip around the net, on the serve, and on the overhead. The continental grip, along with a good unit turn as described next, is what allows greater racket acceleration and, therefore, ball speed.
The arm swing
The first step to creating a great arm swing, as in all the shots, it is creating the turn position with your feet and torso as described in part 8
The second step is getting to the tick or trophy position. There are a 2 ways to do this:
- The racket drop. The racket falls along the side of the torso with the tip pointing more or less straight down at the court, then swings up like a pendulum in to a tick position creating a lot of momentum.
- The abbreviated takeback. Just like on Rafa’s serve the racket doesn’t drop instead it comes straight to the tick/trophy position
You can use either of these methods but bear in mind if you don’t have much time option 2 would be used.
The third step is the swing to contact. The simplest way to think of this is think as though you are throwing your racket at the ball., if you over think this and break it down in to too much detail you will struggle. If you have a correct relaxed service motion, you shouldn’t have to think about all this too much and it will probably happen naturally.
A simple way to improve this motion is to practise throwing, (as a guide you should be to be able to throw the ball from the baseline to at least the service line on the other side), if you cant do this then practise, if you can do this you should be able to generate good racket speed.
Overall, what makes the overhead difficult is the ability to move in position with the proper turn position. The unit turn and the movement, I believe, are the two areas where the average player needs to focus. The arm swing is important, but as your serve arm swing improves in this area so will your overhead swing. As I mentioned above, conquering the ability to do the cross steps as you initiate the turn will go a long way in making the overhead the best part of your game.
The Overhead Game
There is a great live ball overhead drill that I have used many years with my high school doubles teams to work on implementing the overhead in matches.
One team is back at the baseline and one team is at the net. Your coach or one of the back players starts the point by lobbing to the net players. The lob feed should not be too tough or too easy. The net players cannot let the ball bounce either on the lob or the volleys.
After the lob is hit, the point is live. The baseline players can do anything they want — lob, hit, go to the net, etc.
First team to five points wins, then everyone rotates (clockwise) one position and the game starts again. Rotating the positions gives the players practice from both halves of the court, which is important because of the differences in the angles.
This drill is a great way to just get completely comfortable with hitting overheads everywhere on the court. Even if you are a singles player, it gives you the repetitions and the variety of movement and positions on the court that you need.
If you haven’t really developed an overhead, this game can be difficult at first because so many of the overheads are hit while moving back. Overall, though, it’s the best way I know of to develop those critical cross steps. You’ll know you are getting better when the team hitting the overheads starts to win the majority of the games.
Tennis Holidays are a great way to make real progressions in your game, it is an intense week of learning new skills in the morning and putting them in to practise in the afternoons. Being able to play for 20 hours in one week means that you can really make changes in your game fast! Our Tennis Holidays our suitable for all levels whether you are a complete beginner through to county level players – everyone is welcome!
YOURS, YOURS !!!!!
Hi everyone and welcome to part 5 of our tennis crimes series, todays crime is again one we see all the time on our tennis holidays and focuses within the doubles game and really highlights the importance of communication.
So here’s the scenario, you and your doubles partner have attacked the net. Your approach wasn’t fantastic and your tactically astute opponents have been able to guide the ball accurately down the middle causing confusion and disarray between you and your partner… and here comes the crime, both players shout “yours” and the ball sails down the middle of the court for an easy winner with both players unhappy at their partners lack of assertiveness.
So ask yourself these questions:
What does your ready position look like?
When should you be in the ready position?
The ready position is the foundation for almost all of your footwork when you are playing tennis. How you move around the tennis court in one way or another relates directly back to your ready position.
A good ready position
- You want your feet about shoulder width apart, or a little bit wider.
- Your knees should be slightly bent and your weight should be on the balls of your feet, not the heels.
- Your upper body should be relaxed, with your arms and the tennis racket out in front of your body.
- Angle the head of your racket up a little bit.
- It’s also important that your upper body should not be hunched over, bending forward. Your back should be straight so that with your legs bent it is almost like you are sitting in a chair.
- Your eyes should be on your opponent and especially the tennis ball, not looking down at the tennis court.
- Practically speaking, when you are in the ready position you want to be about a foot shorter than your normal height, which is a good athletic height.
“GET READY, STAY READY”