Archive for the 'Tips' Category
Small Steps to Success


PROBLEM
When you move to the ball, you take long steps and tend to lunge at the last second. At the point of contact, you’re off-balance and your weight is headed sideways rather than toward the ball. Your feet cause you to hit a bad shot and also hamper your recovery since you need an extra step to regain your balance.

Large Steps


SOLUTION
Take smaller steps toward the ball. If you can get to a ball in three big steps, try five little ones instead. Good strokes aren’t just about backswings and follow-throughs, but also balance and positioning. When you take big steps, it’s easier to overshoot the ball or come up short. Small steps allow you to make minute adjustments and hit the ball in a comfortable, balanced position.

Small Steps

Here’s a footwork game that works wonders for my students: When hitting with a partner, count your steps. Each one is worth a point, and each rally you win is worth an additional five points toward your total score. The first player to reach 100 wins the game. Counting your steps will make you conscious of what your feet are doing and instantly shorten your stride. Soon you’ll be a natural at taking shorter, more balanced steps.

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Tennis Rules Simplified

The rules of tennis are quite simple. The game itself is complex. "

Rule 1. Opponents stand on opposite sides of the court. The player who delivers the ball to start the point is called the server. The player who stands opposite and cross-court from the server is the receiver.

Rule 2. The right to serve, receive, choose your side, or give the opponent these choices is decided by a toss of a coin or racquet. If the choice of service or receiver is chosen, the opponent chooses which side to start.

Rule 3. The server shall stand behind the baseline on the deuce court within the boundaries of the singles court when playing singles and within the doubles sideline when playing doubles. All even points are played from the deuce court and odd number points played from the advantage court. The server shall not serve until the receiver is ready. Serves are made from the deuce court to the opponents service box on the deuce court. Advantage court to advantage box. If the server misses his target twice, he loses the point. If the ball hits the net and goes in the correct service box, another serve is granted. If the server steps on the baseline before contact is made, the serve is deemed a fault.

Rule 4. The receiver is deemed ready if an attempt is made to return the server’s ball. The receiver can stand where he likes but must let the ball bounce in the service box. If the ball does not land in the service box, it is deemed a fault and a second serve is given. If the ball is hit by either opponent before the ball bounces, the server wins the point.

Rule 5. The server always calls his score first. If the server wins the first point, he gets a score of 15. Scoring is done like a clock. See example below. Love means zero in tennis. The second point is called 30. The third point is called 45 (now-a-days known as 40) and game is won when the score goes back to love. If the score is 40-40, also known as deuce, one side must win by two points. Advantage-In means if the server wins the next point, he wins the game. Advantage-Out means the receiver has a chance to win the game on the next point.

LOVE 15-30-40

Rule 5. After the game, the opponents serve. Games equal 1. The first to win 6 games, by two, wins the set. The first to win 2 sets wins the match. If the score is 6-6, a tie-breaker is played. This is scored by one’s. The first team to score 7 points winning by two wins the set. The tiebreaker continues until one side wins by two. Hence, Game-Set-Match.

Rule 6. If the ball goes into the net, or outside the boundaries of the court, the player who hit that ball loses the point. If the ball hits the net during the point and goes into the opponents court, the ball is in play. A player loses the point if he touches the net, drops his racquet while hitting the ball, bounces the ball over the net, hits a part of the surroundings such as the roof, or a tree, the ball touches him or his partner, he deliberately tries to distract the opponent.

Rule 7. A let is called during the point if a ball rolls on the court or there is a distraction from someone besides the players on the court.

Rule 8. A ball that lands on the line is good.

Rule 9. If players serve out of turn or serve to the wrong person or court, the point or game will stand and order will be resumed following the point or game.

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How to Buy Tennis Shoes

Does the Shoe Fit ?Tennis is all about balance. You have to maintain good balance when you swing. You have to strike a balance between power and control on your shots. Few people, however, think enough about the balance that has to exist between their feet and their shoes.

The truth is, it’s critical that your footwear be properly matched to the anatomy of your feet and the surface you play on. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to blisters, ankle and knee pain, and loss of movement on the court. But when your shoes and feet are in sync, you’ll feel good and play your best tennis.

What’s Your Foot Type?
The first step in finding the right shoe is to figure out what type of foot you have. There are three basic foot types. While only a podiatrist can give you a fully accurate analysis of your foot type, you can evaluate yourself at home too.
The next time you step out of the shower, take a close look at the footprints your wet feet leave on the floor. If you see a crescent-shaped footprint with little or no impression made by your arch, you have a supinated foot. Supinators tend to wear out the outside part of the bottom of their shoes (the lateral side) before the medial (big toe) side. Supinators also tend to have wide feet and need to look for a shoe that provides extra room in the forefoot and toe box. They also need a shoe with extra cushioning to compensate for their high arches.
If your foot leaves a wet mark on the floor that’s completely filled in, arch and all, you have a pronated foot. Pronators often have flat feet, and the medial portion of their shoe bottom wears down before the lateral part. People with this foot type often need extra support from their shoes so a mid-cut model or a shoe with extra stability on the medial side is usually a wise choice.
If you’re one of the few people who leave a wet footprint with a moderate amount of arch, you have a neutral foot. Consider yourself lucky-this is the most efficient and biomechanically versatile foot type. Players with neutral feet can play tennis in almost any shoe.

Understand the Design
You know your foot type. Next up is understanding the shoe’s design so you can pick the one that will perform best for you. There are four parts of a shoe you need to consider:

Upper:
The top portion of the shoe, or the upper, is usually made of leather, synthetic leather, or a combination of materials. If you need extra support, look for lacing systems that thread into reinforcements going down the sides of the shoe; they’ll provide added stability.
When you try a shoe on, be sure the upper is comfortable against the top of your foot and is not too tight. If you drag your toe when you serve, look for a durable toecap. And if you hit your forehand from an open stance (that is, with most of the front of your body facing the net), you’ll benefit from additional material along the medial portion of the upper since that area often slides along the court and wears down faster as you play.

Insole:
This is the portion of the shoe that your foot rests on, and it’s the least technical part of the operation. If you’ve had foot problems and wear orthotics, check to see if the insole is removable. In most cases it will be, allowing you to replace a worn-out insole with an over-the-counter one that provides extra cushioning.

Midsole:
The midsole is the section that lies between the shoe bottom and the insole. It’s generally made from ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) foam or polyurethane (PU) and in many cases is supplemented by air or gel inserts. The midsole supplies a shoe’s cushioning.
It can often be tough to tell when the midsole breaks down and ceases to perform, but as a rule of thumb, a two- or three-day-a-week player will wear out a midsole in five to six months. Frequent players and people who are extremely aggressive on the court will go through midsoles more quickly due to the pounding they give their shoes.

If your shoes don’t feel as cushioned as they did when they were new, the midsole may be shot. You should consider buying a new pair.

Buying Shoes Can Be DifficultOutsole:
This is where the rubber meets the road. The outsole’s design affects the traction you’ll get on hard and clay courts.
Herringbone designs that form a tight, wave-like pattern perform best on clay, while outsoles with the most variation in the design (a little herringbone here, a wider groove there) give you the best traction on hard courts.

An outsole should also be durable enough to stand up to your style of game. If you play often or wear out shoes quickly, look for heavy-duty outsoles and try to get a pair with an outsole warranty; if they don’t last, you can send them back to the manufacturer to get them replaced.

Heavy or Light?
How heavy should a pair of tennis shoes be? Well, light is nice, but heavy has its advantages, too.
The lighter your shoes, the faster you can zip around the court. So why are tennis shoes almost always heavier than running shoes? The stop-and-start demands of tennis require that shoes have ample cushioning, extra support, and more durable outsoles, all of which add weight.
In an effort to lighten up their shoes, manufacturers often use an hourglass-shaped outsole design for some models. But this may move the shoe’s flex point toward the middle of the shoe, near your arch, rather than at the ball of the foot, where your foot naturally bends. (To test a shoe’s flex point, hold it firmly around the heel in one hand and press the palm of your other hand against the sole at the toe end. Notice where the shoe bends. If it’s back toward the arch, you could have problems with support and stability.)

Only you can decide how much weight you’re willing to live with in the name of increased stability and durability. Consider owning two pairs of tennis shoes: a lighter game-day shoe and a heavier training shoe (this technique has been used by distance runners for years). If you practice in a heavier shoe and play your matches in a lighter shoe, you’ll feel quicker in competition and you’ll go through your shoes more slowly while you’re at it.

The Bottom Line
When you get beyond fashion and examine the function of footwear, you’ll wind up performing better on the court. What more could you ask of a tennis shoe?

4 STEPS TO A PERFECT FIT
Buying a pair of shoes should be an educated endeavor, not something that you leave to the luck of the draw. When purchasing tennis shoes, keep the following things in mind:
-Buy shoes after you’ve played tennis or late in the afternoon (feet typically swell 5 to 10 percent after exercise or by the end of the day). And be sure to bring the same kind of socks you wear to a match so that you can accurately gauge what size shoe you need.
-If the salesperson or shopkeeper doesn’t measure each part of your feet, he or she isn’t fitting your shoes properly. Be sure that the length and width of each foot are measured before you buy anything. It’s not uncommon for people to have one foot that’s larger than the other. If that’s the case, buy a pair of shoes to fit the larger foot.
-Bring your old shoes. The wear on your used pair will help a smart fitter determine how much support, cushioning, and durability you need. The salesperson may also ask you what shoes you’ve worn comfortably in the past.
-Based on your foot type, support needs, and style preferences, your fitter should be able to recommend at least two or three different pairs of shoes to try.

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Grip Guide - A Grip on Your Game

Fluid, powerful, and accurate strokes are the combination of many factors. But it all starts with how you hold the racquet.

No matter how much time you spend finding the perfect frame to beef up your game, the most important part of your racquet just might be your grip—not what the handle is made of, but how you hold it. Although they’re largely overlooked, grips are the foundation of all the strokes in tennis. Where you position your hand on the eight-sided handle has a huge impact on each ball you hit. Your grip affects the angle of the racquet face, where you make contact, and ultimately the pace, spin, and placement of your shot. The difficulty with grips is choosing the right one for a particular stroke. The fact is, there is no perfect grip; each has its advantages and limitations. But some are clearly better-suited for certain strokes and styles of play than others. This guide will help you to (1) learn to grasp the racquet for each grip correctly, and (2) determine the best uses of each of the common grips.

FINDING THE GRIPS

There are various ways to explain how to find a certain grip, but the simplest and most reliable is to use the base knuckle of your index finger as the main reference point. The diagrams for each grip show the bottom view of a racquet handle (where the butt cap is attached), which has four main sides and four narrower bevels between the sides.

CONTINENTAL GRIP

The Continental is the one grip that you can use for every shot, but that hasn’t been standard practice since the days of long pants and skirts. The Continental is used primarily for serves, volleys, overheads, slices, and defensive shots. Find the Continental by putting the base knuckle of your index finger on bevel No. 1, which puts the V created by your thumb and forefinger on top of the handle. Lefties put the knuckle on bevel No. 4.

PLUS:
Hitting with the Continental grip on the serve and overhead is standard, as it allows your forearm and wrist to naturally pronate through contact. This results in a more explosive and versatile shot with the least amount of stress on the arm. It’s also the preferred grip on volleys since it provides a slightly open racquet face for underspin and control. Since you need quick hands at net, having the same grip for forehand and backhand volleys is also crucial. As mentioned, your grip affects the angle of the racquet face. The more closed the face, the higher and farther in front of your body your strike zone should be for proper contact. Since the racquet face is relatively square on a Continental grip, for ground strokes the strike zone is low and to the side of the body. That’s why it’s helpful for defensive shots, low balls, and wide balls that you’re late on.

MINUS:
You can hit flat or with slice using the Continental, but it’s tough to put topspin on the ball. That means hitting with power and keeping the ball in play requires you to aim the shot just above net level, leaving you little margin for error. And without that safety spin, returning a ball out of your strike zone can be difficult. So lack of consistency is often a problem.

PROS WHO USE IT:
Virtually all of them, on serves and volleys.

EASTERN FOREHAND GRIP

Place your hand flat against the strings and slide it down to the grip; put the racquet flat on a table, close your eyes, and pick it up; or shake hands with the racquet. These are just a few of the tricks you can use to find an Eastern forehand grip. The more technical way is to hold the racquet in a Continental grip and then turn your hand clockwise (counterclockwise for lefties), so that the base knuckle of your index finger slides over one bevel.

PLUS:
This is generally considered the easiest grip for learning the forehand. It’s versatile, allowing the player to brush up the back of the ball for topspin or flatten out the shot for more power and penetration. It’s easy to switch quickly to other grips from the Eastern, making it a wise choice for players who like to come to net.

MINUS:
The strike zone is higher and farther out in front than with the Continental grip, but it’s still not a great option for returning high shots. An Eastern forehand can be very powerful and penetrating, but because it tends to be a flatter stroke it can also be inconsistent, making it difficult to sustain in long rallies. It’s not the best choice for players looking to put a lot of topspin on their shots and outlast their opponents.

PROS WHO USE IT:
Tim Henman, Lindsay Davenport 

SEMI-WESTERN FOREHAND GRIP

Moving your knuckle one more bevel clockwise (counterclockwise for lefties) from the Eastern forehand grip puts you in a semi-Western grip. This has become a prevalent grip for power baseliners on the pro tours, and many teaching pros encourage their students to use it.

PLUS:
The semi-Western allows a player to apply more topspin to the ball than the Eastern forehand grip, giving the shot greater safety and control, especially on lobs and short angles. Still, you can drive through the ball with this grip to hit a flat drive for a winner or passing shot. It also affords a player the option of taking a bigger swing at the ball since the topspin will help keep it in the court. With a strike zone higher and farther out in front of the body than the Eastern forehand, it’s good for controlling and being aggressive with high shots.

MINUS:
You can run into trouble returning low balls. Since the grip naturally closes the racquet face, forcing you to swing up from underneath the ball, it can be difficult to return lower shots. This, along with having to make a significant grip change to get to the Continental for a volley, is why so many power baseliners are uncomfortable coming to net.

PROS WHO USE IT:
Marat Safin, Svetlana Kuznetsova

WESTERN FOREHAND GRIP

From a semi-Western grip, shift your knuckle one more bevel clockwise (counterclockwise for lefties), and you’ve got a full Western grip. Looking down at the racquet, your knuckle should be on the very bottom of the grip. This puts your palm almost completely under the racquet. Clay-court specialists and players who hit with heavy topspin favor this grip.

PLUS:
This is an extreme grip that puts a lot of action on the ball. The positioning of the wrist forces the racquet to whip up the back of the ball severely, generating tremendous topspin. You can hit the ball well above net level and it will still drop into the court. The resulting shot will usually have a high and explosive bounce, pushing your opponent behind the baseline. The strike zone is higher and farther out in front than all other forehand grips. The ability to handle high balls is what makes this grip so popular with clay-courters and juniors.

MINUS:
Low balls can be murder. That’s why professionals with this grip generally don’t do well on faster surfaces, where the ball stays low after the bounce. Also, you need tremendous racquet-head speed and wrist strength to generate adequate pace and spin. Otherwise, your shots will land short and your opponents can attack them. For some, it’s also difficult to flatten shots out, so putting balls away becomes a problem. And just as with the semi- Western, transitioning to net and hitting an effective first volley is a major challenge.

PROS WHO USE IT:
Rafael Nadal, Amelie Mauresmo

EASTERN BACKHAND GRIP

From a Continental grip, shift your knuckle one bevel counterclockwise (clockwise for lefties) so that it’s on the very top of the grip. If you drilled a nail through that knuckle, it would go right through the center of the grip (just don’t try that at home).

PLUS:
As with the Eastern forehand, this is a versatile grip that provides good stability for the wrist. You can roll the ball for some spin or hit through it for a more penetrating drive. Some players can slice with an Eastern grip, but if not, a subtle grip change over to the Continental is easy enough to do. This grip also can be used for a kick serve, and it makes the transition to net for volleys a relatively smooth one.

MINUS:
While solid for handling low balls, an Eastern backhand grip is not ideal for hitting topspin shots from around the shoulders. It can be difficult to control these balls, and many times a player is forced to slice them back defensively. You see this most often when players return kick serves that jump up high in the strike zone.

PROS WHO USE IT:
Roger Federer, Lisa Raymond

EXTREME EASTERN OR SEMI-WESTERN BACKHAND GRIP

The backhand’s answer to the Western forehand (a reason some refer to this as a semi-Western backhand), the base knuckle of your index finger moves one bevel counterclockwise from the Eastern backhand (clockwise for lefties). It’s an advanced grip that only stronger and more accomplished players tend to use.

PLUS:
Just as with the Western forehand grips, this is a very popular choice with clay-court players. It naturally closes the racquet face more than a regular Eastern backhand and moves the strike zone higher and farther out in front of you, making it more conducive to handling high balls and returning them with topspin. Some of the most powerful backhands in tennis are held with this grip.

MINUS:
Its limitations are similar to those of the Western forehand. It’s not well-suited for low balls, and because it’s a rather extreme grip it’s difficult to make quick changes for a transition to net. Players with this grip usually have long, elaborate swings and prefer the baseline.

PROS WHO USE IT:
Gustavo Kuerten, Justine Henin- Hardenne

TWO-HANDED BACKHAND GRIP

There’s no doubting the popularity of this grip, but there is some debate about the ideal way to position both hands. One of the most accepted ways is to hold the racquet in your dominant hand with a Continental grip. Then take your nondominant hand and put it above your playing hand in a semi-Western forehand grip.

PLUS:
This is an excellent choice for players who aren’t strong enough to hit a one-handed backhand. A more compact stroke than the one-hander, the two-hander relies on shoulder rotation and an efficient swing to provide power. That’s why it’s particularly effective on the return of serve. It’s also good on low shots, and the extra arm lets you power through on balls that are at shoulder level.

MINUS:
Because both hands are on the racquet, the two-hander limits a player’s reach. So doing anything with wide shots can be tough, especially since it’s difficult to rotate your upper body when stretched. Also, two-handers can become dependent on topspin. Hitting an effective slice calls for extending through the shot with a steady front shoulder. This is unnatural for two-handers, who are taught to open their hips and rotate their shoulders. Taking the nondominant hand off the racquet to hit the slice or volley is also troubling for many twohanders; it’s the reason why they’re generally not comfortable at the net.

PROS WHO USE IT:
Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova

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Get that first serve in!

Question:
Why do commentators go on and on about first serve percentages?

Well, they do it because the serve is arguably the most significant shot in modern tennis. Typically, in a match between two pros, the server has a better win/loss ratio when the first serve goes in. So it’s important that it does go in! The first serve percentage is obviously used as an indicator of a player’s effectiveness in this area.

OK - it’s a significant factor in the pro game. Is it significant for us?

You bet it is! Apart from anything else, repeatedly using two serves per point is tiring, especially in the course of a long match. You can ill afford to waste the energy! You should be looking to get 60 - 70% of first serves into play.

Missing your first serve means there’s pressure on you to get your second serve in, and this pressure can start to affect your confidence over time. As a match progresses, a good returner will apply more pressure by moving in on the second serve and looking to attack you. So you find that it’s not enough to just get the second serve into play - it’s got to have a reasonable amount of depth and penetration as well. This added pressure can lead to double faults.

So if you’re missing your first serves, put a bit more spin on (for control) and get those percentages up again.

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