Tennis Shots. The backhand

From listening to tennis commentators, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that a backhand was something that any tennis player compared to a particularly troubling visit to the dentist – if it can be avoided, you should, because the result of going there will be painful and potentially embarrassing.



There is no doubt that a good backhand is trickier to play, and therefore rarer in the competitive game, than a forehand. For this reason, professional players will aim to hit to their opponent‘s backhand in the hope of forcing a mistake. Because it is an “unnatural” shot – played across rather than with the player’s body, mistakes are more common with it – but a good backhand is worth developing, because it can be devastating.



As players instinctively aim for their opponents’ backhands, having a good shot with that stroke is liable to win you a lot of points. The Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, a top twenty player with a moderate record in the game, is believed by no less an authority than John McEnroe to have the best backhand he has ever seen – but unfortunately for Wawrinka, this has resulted in players hitting to his less gifted forehand.



Wawrinka’s compatriot Roger Federer is one of very few top players to hit the backhand single-handed, allowing him greater reach and ability to hit on the run. This has made him dangerous from anywhere on the court, a major element in his success in the game.

The Drop Shot

For players with anything other than the ultimate level of mobility around the court, one of the recurring nightmares which prevents them from getting a good night’s sleep must be the thought of facing a player blessed with a good drop shot. This shot may be one of the most frustrating to face when playing an opponent who knows how to hit it. If hit correctly and at the right time, a drop shot is unplayable.


The idea behind the shot is that it is hit with little pace just over the net. On passing over the net, it will literally “drop” just inside the opponent‘s court and pretty much stop dead. Even if it does bounce a little, the angle of the shot required to get it back will be beyond all but the most gifted opponent.


The key to hitting the perfect drop shot is believed to be “soft hands”, which entails slackening one’s grip on the racket at exactly the moment of impact, allowing the racquet to absorb more of the force of the shot and take much of the pace off the ball. This in turn means the bounce on the other side of the net will be lower.



Frequently, a drop shot will be played on the volley, known as a “drop volley”. Although this shot existed long before his time in the game, John McEnroe is believed to have turned it into an art form, making him arguably the greatest serve-volley player of all time, who frequently used the drop shot and drop volley to gain an advantage or even finish off a point.

Does the Hawk-eye system work for line calls


We know and have seen how video analysis can be used to analyze a tennis players performance, but it can also be used in real time or almost real time to track the ball and even make close line calls. Of course I am talking about the “Shot Spot” or Hawk-Eye system.



If you have watched any Major Tennis since 2006, you will know exactly what Hawk-Eye is. The Hawk-Eye is used to make decisions on line calls that are challenged by the tennis player. Each player (or team if playing doubles) can challenge a line call on any point. They get a maximum of 3 incorrect challenges each set. If the set goes to a tie break an extra challenge is allowed. Basically the Hawk-Eye challenge enables the tennis players to use technology to challenge line calls they think are incorrect.


The technology being used by the Hawk-Eye system is Video Analysis. Here is how it works.


  • Multiple cameras are placed around the court and players. These cameras are usually placed high up, so that there is less chance that a player will be blocking the ball from the camera view.


  • Multiple cameras are used to ensure accuracy of tracking the ball and to account for possible occlusion (the ball being hidden from the camera view by the players body…)


  • The system uses at least 4 high speed video cameras, with a capture rate presumed to be 500 frames per second.


  • The camera position is calibrated to determine its position in space and relative to the other cameras in the system. The lines on the court are also used in calibration and to compensate for any camera movement.


  • The center of the ball is tracked in 2D by each camera. The ball therefore is like a reflective marker or point on the body. Using the information from all the cameras, the Hawk-Eye system then triangulates the 3D position of the ball.



  • This process is done for each captured frame so that a trajectory of the ball can be created and then overlayed on an animated background containing the lines of the tennis court.


  • Finally the skid and compression of the ball is measured by examining the position and trajectory of the ball prior to the bounce and its position and trajectory after the bounce. In this way they can determine how long the ball was on the ground and how it skidded over the ground.


  • The Hawk-Eye system is said to have an accuracy of 3.6 mm.


I believe that the use of video technology in this way is great for the sport of tennis and for the players piece of mind as well as spectator enjoyment. 






Here are some points that may effect the accuracy of the system:



  • The camera capture rate of 500 frames per second may be too slow for the hard hitting tennis game of today. Andy Roddick has recorded a fastest serve at 155 mph and ground strokes are often hit with a similar speed. Assuming a capture speed of 500 frames per second or 1 frame every 0.002 seconds, the ball will have moved about 139 mm for every video frame. This may not be sufficient data to determine the position of the ball to within 1 mm.


  • The more cameras that are used the better the chance of tracking the ball and the higher the accuracy. However there are possibilities of occlusion by players, tennis rackets and the net, which will lead to reduced accuracy.


  • High speed video capture also needs excellent lighting. We have discussed the importance of lighting for high speed capture in a previous post . Therefore the system will work best under a roof with artificial bright lighting and will possibly have a problem tracking the ball outdoors, particularly when there is cloud cover or as it gets later into the evening.



  • Assuming everything is perfect for capture, the center of the ball has to be identified as accurately as possible too. If a camera sees the ball at an oblique angle or partly occluded the center may not be correctly defined by this one camera and the position of the ball will be inaccurate.


  • The skid and compression of the ball is being estimated and extrapolated based on the trajectory of the ball before and after the bounce. Any inaccuracies in tracking the position and flight of the ball will become larger during an extrapolation (estimation of the movement).


The Hawk-Eye system may not be perfect but it is definitely a step up from the eyeball view of a line judge, particularly when the ball is moving at high speed. We believe Hawk-Eye has improved the line calls in Tennis and this is great for the players and spectators alike. However it still leaves room to debate exciting points and close matches.

Finding a good Tennis teacher

Tennis Trainers were also once beginners in the tennis world.


They trained hard, worked hard, and studied hard to be called a professional tennis teacher. Tennis instructors are highly trained professionals who attended and succeeded in rigorous trainings and courses to become qualified as teachers.


In other words, hiring a tennis teacher is one step closer to achieving your goal to become a pro tennis player.


Here are some helpful details on finding a good tennis teacher:


  • You can find and hire a private tennis teacher and bring him / her to your private tennis court.


  • The rate that you are going to pay depends on how skilled and experienced the teacher that you will choose.


  • The best option where you can search the best possible tennis instructor that will satisfy your budget is on the internet.


  • So go on, don’t be afraid to inquire and choose your private tennis teacher that best matches your expectations.


Below are the advantages that you can gain upon hiring a tennis instructor:


  • He / She can help you to be organized. Organized in a sense of arranging your schedules, trainings, which will minimize or remove your wasted time on planning your own schedules.


  • You will have a friend or even the best buddy in tennis world. Playing tennis is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle.


  • A good tennis instructor should be able to teach you the proper techniques of hitting the ball, and from these basics you move up to being a pro by a step by step workout given by the instructor themselves.


  • The teacher can even show you a specific exercise, which can be practised on your own. A good example would be hitting the ball against a wall.


A great instructor must have these attributes to become effective in teaching:


  • He / She should have good teaching and motivating skills. This is greatly needed in order to be a successful tennis teacher. Even if you are the best tennis player in town, if you don t have what it takes to be a teacher, you will not become a good tennis teacher.


  • A good tennis instructor must know how to use time effectively and wisely to satisfy the needs of the student.


  • A good tennis teacher should show some care for their student. They should teach with their heart and train with their soul.


  • Lastly, but of course not the least, a good tennis teacher loves the game wholeheartedly and accepts defeat graciously.


Tips to hitting a strong Forearm

Tips to hitting a strong Forearm


The forehand is one of the more dominant strokes in tennis.  If you follow professional tennis on the TV at all then you will know that many of the top players win tons of points because they can dictate points with their forehand. 


Federer and Nadal, the two best players in the world, both have great forehands with which they can run their opponent and hit winners. 


There are three main areas of technique that you need to master in order to have a huge forehand: the grip, take back, and finish. 

If you improve these areas, your forehand will take your game to the next level.




There are several variations on the forehand grip and you can use many of them and still have success.  Nadal uses an extreme semi-western grip, which allows him to create massive amount of topspin. 

Federer and Del Potro use more eastern grips which allows them to drive through the ball and flatten out their shots to hit line drives. 


The grip I recommend is a more conventional semi-western grip.  It is between the two previously mentioned grips, and it will allow you to have great variety with your forehand.  You will be able to rip heavy spin and hit lasers low over the net.  With this grip you can hit penetrating shots that will force your opponent to back up behind the baseline and to play defensively.



Take Back


Your take back is very important, because if your take back is good your shot will be as well.  You should separate your hands sooner than you think by taking the non-dominant hand off the racket and extending it toward the side fence and the net post.  This will give you balance. 

If you do not separate your hands at the correct moment, you will have trouble timing the ball and will hit many shots late.





Your finish is the most important part of your swing, because for the finish to be right the rest of the swing also has to be right.  You should hold your finish after you have finished your shot, because it will help you with your consistency and create a smooth effortless swing on court. 


There are several variations of the forehand finish.  The kind of finish usually dictates what kind of ball that you will produce.  If you finish with the racket out in front of your body straight up and down, it will help hit line drives low over the net. 


If you finish by turning the hand after contact so that the strings face the side fence it will help you hit big spin.  The last kind of finish is the buggy whip. 


You will see pros such as Nadal use this shot a lot.  Unfortunately lots of players who see Nadal use this shot only see the end and often use incorrect technique.  In order to hit a correct buggy whip you have to extend out through the ball before wrapping over your head.  This will ensure that you do not injure your shoulder by flailing around with the racket.


  Also you should try and stop the racket over your head while you are learning the buggy whip.  This will teach you how to drive through the ball with good technique. 


Finally, it is very important that you catch your racket at the end of your swing.  This will prevent unnecessary movement and will allow you to relax your hand when you swing.  Relaxation is important in order to hit a high level forehand, because it frees up your arm to create maximum power.


If you improve in these three areas your forehand, will develop into the weapon you want it to be.  You will be able to pressure your opponent, move them around the court, and hit winners.  These three areas are the keys to having a world class forehand and if these areas are technically sound, you will be a feared by your opponent


Once you have mastered your forehand, you will be the one dictating the points and forcing your opponent to be the one who is just trying to get the ball back in play.

Ever thought of a Tennis Holiday to Spain?

Wither you are a top player or a social player Spain has it all! ….

5 Tips for a Dominant Serve

5 Tips for a Dominant Serve

The serve is one of the two most important strokes in the game of tennis, the other being the return of serve.  Watch professional tennis on TV, and you will see that all pro tennis matches revolve around the serve.  It is a must have stroke, and if you improve your serve, it will take your game to the next level.  The five most important things that you have to address to improve your serve are the grip, toss, stance, trophy position, and finish.




The best grip to use  is the continental grip or a variation on it.  It is the same grip that you should use for volleys and slices.  You can move the grip slightly either direction to either gain spin or to hit a flatter serve. For a flatter serve move it slightly toward the eastern forehand grip, and for more spin move your grip the other direction towards backhand.


Ball Toss Position


Correct toss positioning is essential to have a big league serve.  The ball should have little or no spin when you toss it.  For a flat serving right hander, you want to have the toss slightly to the right of your body and forward into the court.  In order to hit a serve with more spin you should toss the ball more overhead and to the left for a righty.  Also, if you want to hit a kick serve you should toss the ball over your left shoulder so that you add side spin and topspin to the ball.



Your stance should allow you to jump up at the ball powerfully and comfortably.  There are several variations on the serve stance.  Roddick has a narrower stance, but Sampras and Federer have wider stances.  You should use a stance that you feel gives you the most power and stability.


Trophy Position


Your trophy position is very important, because your position there greatly affects how well and consistently you will hit your serve.  You need a good shoulder  turn to produce the power you want.  Your toss arm should be straight and your fingers on the tossing hand should be reaching as far upward as they can, as if you are trying to shoot lightning bolts out of your fingers.  Your racket should be at an upward angle and the racket strings should be facing slightly downward so that you can produce the spin you need to control and place the ball.  You should watch the ball all the way through contact so that you can avoid shanking the ball.




Your finish involves all of the previous steps and your contact, because if those are not correct your finish won’t be either.  After contact you should have the leg you are not landing on kick out behind you.  This should happen, because you are jumping forward into the court.  Djokovic does this more than any other top player.  He really snaps his body down into the serve.  This helps him get more power.  Your back leg should then come forward naturally as you finish your forward movement.  Then, if you are serving and staying back, you should recover just behind the baseline and split-step so that you are ready for the next ball.  If you are serve and volleying you should continue to move forward and then split-step to be ready for your first volley.


If you correct these five areas, then your serve will begin to develop into the weapon it can be.  Don’t let your serve get in the way of your success in tennis.  Make these changes and watch as your serve quickly becomes your favorite stroke.  Having a monster serve not only wins you free points and helps you hold serve, but it also frees you up when you are returning because you are no longer under the constant pressure of not knowing whether or not you can hold serve.

How to increase the Pace without hitting harder


How to increase pace without hitting harder

Unless you were raised on a tennis camp, chances are somewhere in your tennis career you have run into this problem.

Maybe you have the problem still. I see more and more young, or inexperienced players, trying to crank that big shot. While that’s all and well, their consistency drops like a fly.

Absolutely plummets.


Even if they work at slapping the big shot, their consistency is still never good enough to compete at a level beyond where they’re at. The reason is because when inexperienced players try to crack the ball they muscle it through with their arm…and only their arm. That’s a no no.


Here is what I suggest. Spend sometime working on technique, and the pace will come. Its not about how fast you swing, or how hard you swing. It’s about what muscles you use.

If you don’t believe me, go out and play with one of the top 12 and under or 14 and under boys. I guarantee you will be surprised at how well they handle pace, create pace, and how they can engineer a point. The reason the top kids can generate that much pace for their size, or can reflect that much power, is because they know what muscles to use.


So, here are a few tips to help you hit harder without swinging faster :


1) Step in to the ball.

Power is all about weight transfer. When you step into your shot, you’re transferring your weight and using all your core and leg power to fuel your shot.


2) Rotate your hips.

This goes along with stepping into the shot, except in an open stance. When you can’t step in, swing your hips around into the shot. So for example if you’re right handed, swing your right hip into the court as you’re hitting.


3) Watch the ball:

This one is simple, as a clean hit  generates more power than a shank.


4) Break your wrist before you hit.

If you look closely at Roger Federer, his wrist breaks and his racket face drops below his wrist and under the ball before he hits. Every top player does this. Never mind the extra wrist power you get, its the topspin you really want. Breaking your wrist forces your hand to naturally add topspin to your shot by accelerating through the ball during your follow through. It not only allows you to hit harder, more consistently but it forces you to hit a heavier ball.


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