Tennis serve tips

The tennis serve is an important part of the game of tennis. Besides the groundstrokes, a good serve can begin the point on the player’s own terms. The groundstrokes are often practiced by club players every day, but the serve always lacks adequate practice. Many tennis players neglect their serve. Player’s who do lack the ability to serve with both power and spin start the point at their opponent’s mercy. The irony is that the tennis serve technique is entirely in our control.

A tennis player with common sense should look to gain a advantage by improving their tennis serve. If you are looking to improve the tennis serve technique, have a weak serve, or just looking to develop an already good serve: here are some tips to help you improve.

Focus on placement

Before you start your service motion, a player should know exactly where they want to hit their serve. If you have better aim, you can hit better placements with your serve. If you want a great serve, think about where you want to hit the ball. This will help you regain focus and help take some pressure off yourself.

Make sure your body position is aligned correctly to hit the tennis serve. If you are aiming to the right, finish your service motion to the right. If you are playing a righty, you will mostly want to aim to your right, because usually players’ backhands are weaker than their forehands. When you make contact make sure you are hitting the correct side of the ball. If you are aiming to the right, you will want to hit the ball at 11 o’clock.

It is also important to make sure your opponent can’t read where you are trying to hit the ball. Therefore, you must disguise your serve. One way to practice this is the 1-2-3 drill. When practicing, divide the service box into three parts. Let’s say the left division is 1, the middle division is 2, and the right division is 3. Have a friend call out one, two, or three right after you toss the ball. Serve to where your friend told you to. If you do this drill enough it will help you aim better and help you disguise your serve.

Incorporate your whole body into the serve

As you add more of your body into your shots, your service motion will become more powerful. Therefore, it is important to sometimes practice your serve without a ball. This is sometimes called “shadowing”. Make sure to lean your hip beyond the service line. Bend your knees. Make sure your shoulders and body are perpendicular to the net. Finally, when the toss has reached its peak, unleash all that energy you have stored into your body. Jump into the court as you hit the ball and prepare for the next shot with a split-step.

Practice serving by throwing

A baseball pitch is much like a serve in tennis. If you ever get the chance to watch a baseball player, you should notice that their throwing mechanics is very similar to the tennis serve. A good serve is an accurate shot, but the serve should also have a lot of pace on it. You can throw a ball with a friend, or you can just get some tennis balls and see how far you can throw them from the baseline. Then, immediately try doing the same motion with a tennis racquet. The results will surprise you.

Final Tennis Tip

The best way to throw your opponent off on serve is to add different spins and paces to your serve. Try to serve kick, slice and flat serves into your service games. At 40-love and first serve, throw in a hard, flat serve for an ace. Occasionally serve a ball with absolutely no pace on it. This is effective when your opponent has been getting hard serve after hard serve.

Work on these tennis serve tips to improve your game and then your tennis technique may improve over time.

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Warm up exercises for tennis players

A lot of tennis players pay strict attention to their warm-up exercises while some others just do a few chest twists and muscle releasing movements before a tennis match. Doing a planned series of warm-up drills, which also includes cardio and dynamic stretching exercises, is quite beneficial for both professional and amateur players. Warm up exercises for tennis should be done for at least 10-15 min prior to playing or practice.

There are a variety of tennis exercises that help in reducing injuries and assist in developing functional flexibility, range of motion and balance. The range of tennis warm up exercises includes:

1. Cardio – Cardio exercises should be done for 3-5 minutes. Skipping or running can be done for cardio. The main purpose of cardio warm up is to increase your heart rate and circulation, thereby increasing the length of muscles and preparing the joints for exercise.

2. Muscle Activation – To overcome any muscle imbalance or any instability issues around certain joints, it is important to excite the correct muscles and push them to work during exercise. This can be achieved through muscle activation. Some useful activation exercises are Four Point extension, Supine Bridge and Shoulder External Rotation.

3. Range of Motion (ROM) – Tennis exercises are a great way to move joints and lengthen muscles. ROM exercises can be considered as exercises for an active stretch or loosening up of the body. The main benefit of ROM exercises is that they help in the movement of the whole body rather than just isolating a specific area or muscle, which is mandatory to do before playing any sport, especially tennis. Some of the best ROM exercises are Sumo Squat Lift, Lunge Twist, Thread The Needle and Spine Flexion.

4. Shadowing – This is the final phase of the warm up schedule. Shadowing imitates the movements that are performed on the tennis court. Shadowing gets the nervous system working and ensures that your body follows specific movement patterns. Shadowing exercises for tennis can be used to help you in preparing mentally for practice or play. The intensity of shadowing should increase every 20-30 seconds; so that you feel yourself ready physically as well as mentally before you start your session or match. A tennis player should do shadowing for at least 2-3 minutes (20-30 sec on: 20 sec off x 3-4 sets) alternating between forehands, backhands, overhead, volleys and serves.

5. Stretching – Stretching is very important after playing tennis. Players can feel tired and fatigued after playing tennis for hours, if they don’t follow a regular stretching program, it can have a long-lasting effect on their tennis fitness and performance. Once the match is over, players need to do a steady jog until their breathing has slowed down and they feel close to a resting heart rate. Then they should follow their stretch program, holding stretches for 30 seconds to 1 minute, targeting tight areas throughout their body.

Following these warm up steps that are specific exercises for tennis, will ensure you are ready every time you train, practice or play.

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Working with a tennis ball machine

As with any sport the only way to improve is to practice, practice, practice! Tennis is certainly no different. If you want to see drastic improvement in your tennis game, then you need to practice and practice a ton. Talk to any tennis pro and they will tell you the same. Many professional tennis players credit their success directly to time spent on the tennis court just hitting ball after ball from a tennis ball machine.

It doesn’t matter if you brand new to tennis, a weekend player at the park, on your high school tennis team or a professional tennis player, your game will completely change with the constant use of a tennis ball machine. It’s the constant repetition of hitting the tennis ball over and over that will not only create the proper form, build “tennis muscles”, but will also create an incredible confidence in yourself as you watch your game improve over time.

Tennis Ball Machine Benefits:

-Get a great workout every time you take the court.
-Create fun games and challenges
-Improve your game by creating muscle memory with a variety of shots
-Improve hand eye coordination
-Improve footwork with dynamic shot making

A portable tennis ball machine is a coach and teacher that you can take with you to any court, anywhere you go. Now days tennis ball machines are so small and compact and so very lightweight that they can easily taken with you in the trunk of a car. They are simple to setup and can be done so very quickly in a matter of seconds.

Tennis machines are not cheap by any means, usually ranging from several hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars in price. But if you are serious about improving your game, they really are an absolute must for any tennis player. When you compare the price of paying a dedicated tennis coach who will hit you ball after ball for a couple hours a day, to the price of a one time investment of a tennis ball machine, the cost really isn’t even close.

When it comes down to it, the only way to really improve in tennis, as with anything in life, is constant and repetitive practice. Hitting the same shots over and over until they become second nature to you. This muscle memory needs to be developed over time and the best way to do this in tennis is with a tennis ball machine.

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How to beat a ” better ” tennis player

Imagine that you could stop time at the exact moment that your opponent hit a tennis ball toward you. Would that be great, or really great? Let’s see what we could discover about what our opponent is going to do and exploit if we could magically stop time. First, we could discover the following:

1. We could tell where the ball was going; this would allow us to get into position, and once we were in perfect position, we could ‘start time’ again and hit an awesome shot, because we’d be ready for it.

2. We could analyze our opponent‘s position on the court, and decide where we wanted to hit the ball – obviously, to a spot on the court that would make it difficult for our opponent to return the ball.

3. We could see what type of spin was on the ball, and be ready for it.

4. We could see where our opponent‘s body position is relative to the center of the baseline, and perhaps try to ‘wrong-foot’ our opponent.

There are all kinds of things you could do, and in this ‘magical’ scenario they would all help us to win a match. There is, however, one thing that this scenario would allow us to do is ‘steal time’. What I mean by that is, even when you magically ‘started’ time again, the same number of seconds would continue to tick off, and we’d still have to properly execute the shots that all the above ‘analysis’ allowed us to be ready to hit.

There is, however, a way to steal time from you opponent. What I mean by ‘stealing’ time is giving your opponent less time to react than normal. If you and your opponent are both on the baseline, slugging ground strokes back and forth to each other, hitting the tennis ball at the peak of its bounce, the advantage will always go to the player with:

– More powerful & more accurate ground strokes

– Better movement

– Better physical conditioning

This is a given. Just watch a couple of early round matches on the slow red clay at the French Open and any doubts you may have will be swiftly removed. However, there is a way that the ‘better’ player can be beaten, if you can learn how to ‘steal’ the time they need to prepare for their next shot. There is one time-tested, match-proven, Grand Slam Tournament proven way to steal your opponent’s time. The way to do it is to…drum roll please….ready?….hit the ball on the rise.

This is a sure-fire way to reduce your opponent’s reaction time. Most players, however, back up when a tennis ball is hit deep into their court. Their logic is to get into position to hit the ball after it peaks, while the ball is traveling down, and into their ‘wheelhouse’ (approximately waist level). They are more comfortable doing this because:

– That’s how they’ve been taught to do it, so they won’t ‘miss-hit’ the tennis ball

– They’ve been fed thousands of tennis balls this way by their local tennis pro when they were first learning how to hit ground strokes.

– It’s easier to hit the tennis ball on the ‘way down’ from the peak of it’s bounce because the ball has slowed down, making it easier for the player to hit with their current level of hand-eye coordination.

– Since they’ve ‘backed up’ well behind the baseline to wait for the tennis ball to drop into their wheelhouse, the odds of hitting a ball ‘long’, past the opponent’s baseline, decrease.

You could call all of the above reasons ‘logical’, but they won’t help you beat a ‘better’ tennis player because of the following:

– Just getting the ball back over the net is not enough to beat a ‘better’ player.

– While you were ‘backing up’ behind the baseline waiting for the ball to fall into your wheelhouse to you could hit it, your opponent was recovering from their shot and moving back into position to get ready for your next shot. This will not help you to beat a ‘better’ player.

– Now that you’re well behind the baseline when you hit your shot, it will take you extra time to get back into position for your opponent’s next shot – and remember, they’re already in position for your next shot (that’s one of the reasons they’re the ‘better player’)! This again will not help you to beat a ‘better player’.

Fear not, however. If we stand our ground on or just behind the baseline (6-12″) during ground stroke rallies and hit the ball on the rise, all of a sudden a world of possibilities opens up for us. If you make sure to stand your ground and don’t back up, then what happens is the following. When you receive your opponent’s shot, the ball will still be traveling through your wheelhouse, but it’s traveling from the ground up, and it’s moving faster than it would be if we let it reach its peak and start back down again. Here’s how you benefit and your opponent suffers:

–  Since you’re now hitting the tennis ball as soon as it bounces up off the court, you are giving your opponent less time to react to your shot. Tennis players are human beings, too; and most humans look for the ‘easiest’ way to do something, rather than the most ‘efficient’. It’s human nature; so most players, including so-called ‘better’ players than you wait for the tennis ball to bounce up and back down again before they hit it. Since this is the case, your opponent will not be used to playing people who hit the ball on the rise. They are not prepared for a tennis ball that comes back at them so quickly. This will help you to beat a ‘better’ tennis player.

– You are now in better position to react to you opponent’s next shot, because your not six feet behind the baseline trying to get back into position; you’re already there! Your ‘better’ opponent is used to hitting winners and forcing errors because again, most of the ‘better’ player opponents are behind the baseline waiting for the ball to drop into their wheelhouse. By being proactive and hitting the ball on the rise, you make your opponent work harder and harder to pull you out of position. This will help you to beat a ‘better’ tennis player.

Why don’t more players hit the tennis ball ‘on the rise’? Simple answer: It takes practice, and timing, and faith, and persistence; in short, it takes work. But you can do it. Persistence is the key. If you can commit to it, and not rest until you get the results you want, you’ve won 90% of the battle; and a whole new – and better – game awaits you. There are several techniques I utilize when teaching my students the ‘how’ of hitting the ball on the rise that I do not have the space to fit into this article. Just remember that you don’t have to get it perfect; just get it going. Start hitting the ball on the rise, and practice, practice, practice! Then watch that ‘better’ player wonder just why you’re so hard to beat these days!

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Facts about racquet strings

Your tennis racket strings are just as important as your racket. But all too often we spend way too little time researching tennis strings. Many tennis players spend hours upon hours researching rackets to find the best tennis racket. They may even spend hours playing with a demo racket before purchasing it. Once they find the best tennis racket, many players go for the cheaper string or the string that they had in their old racket.

This can be a big mistake. If you used a demo tennis racket, it most likely had the best all around string put in it for that racket. For example, if it was a very stiff racket, chances are it had softer string in it or it might even have had natural gut in it, which is one of the top playing strings. It has been said that the strings are the “heart of the racket” or “the soul of the racket”. This is so true. Your tennis racket string is what gives you the “feel of the racket” or playability. If you put the wrong string in your racket, you will wonder why you ever bought the racket to begin with. Put in the right string, and it will be hard to get you off the court! Of course, the “right” string is different for everyone. It all depends on what the tennis player likes and needs. Some tennis players like the firm crisp string, while other players prefer the softer tennis string. You need to find the string that you like and works for your type of game and tennis racket.

Playability is subjective and depends on the tennis player. There are several factors that give a string playability and should be considered when deciding on tennis racket string. The next time you replace your string, please take time to considering the following factors:

String Gauge – Gauge refers to the thickness of the tennis string. The most common gauges are 15-18 gauge. Each gauge has a half size which is referred to by an “L”, which means light. Lower numbers are thick string while higher numbers indicate a thinner string. So a 16L gauge string is thicker than a 17 gauge but thinner than a 16 gauge tennis string. A thicker string generally provides durability so it lasts longer. A thinner string gives you better playability but sacrifices some durability.

String Tension – Tension refers to how tight you string your racket. Tennis rackets typically come with a recommended stringing range. The rule of thumb is that tighter strings give you more control, while a lower tension provides more power. If you have no preference, it is generally best to use the mid-range.

String Materials – Tennis racket strings are made up of many different types of materials. The materials include natural gut, synthetic gut or nylon, polyester, Kevlar, and there are even hybrid string sets which come with two different types of material. The choice really is a personal preference. It is said that natural gut offers the optimum in playability and feel. It has been and continues to be the number 1 pick on the pro circuit. Kevlar is known for its durability while synthetic gut offers a good combination of durability and playability.

String Construction – There are several different types of string construction that play a part in the string’s make-up and playability. I will not go into detail but there are solid core strings with one outer wrap, solid core strings with multi-outer wraps and then there are those strings with no solid core, they are just multi-filaments. There are also multi-filament strings with outer-wraps, textured strings, and composite strings made up of a combination of materials. All of these different types of construction provide the string with a different feel and performance benefits.

As you can see, there is a lot more to tennis racket string than meets the eye. The intention of this article was to hopefully encourage you as a tennis player to pay more attention to the string that goes into your tennis racket and to do a little bit of research next time your racket needs stringing. Get the most out of your racket and your tennis racket strings!

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Facts about tennis balls

If you think that tennis balls are simply yellow fuzzy balls, one no different from another, you are most definitely wrong. Tennis balls are much more than that. Here are some facts about tennis balls that you may or may not already know:

Pressurized vs. Pressureless Tennis Balls:

· There are two main types of tennis balls: pressurized and pressureless.

· Pressurized tennis balls have a hollow core, filled with air. Some tennis ball manufacturers use nitrogen in the center, because this air tends to last longer – pressurized balls will lose their pressure after about a month or so after opening the pressurized can that they come in. As they lose their pressure, they become “dead” and do not bounce so well.

· Pressureless balls have a solid core. These tennis balls are great for anyone who does not play tennis that often and/or to use and training tennis balls. These tennis balls do not lose their bounce. However, the felt will slowly wear off, and they will eventually need to be replaced.

Regular Duty, Extra Duty, or High Altitude Tennis Balls:

· When you buy tennis balls, the container that they come in should be clearly marked with what kind of balls it contains – regular duty, extra duty, or high altitude tennis balls.

· Regular duty tennis balls should be used on indoor and clay courts. Extra duty balls would get too fuzzy if used on clay courts.

· Extra duty tennis balls are used on grass courts and tennis courts.

· High altitude tennis balls are used in places like Denver where you are playing 4,000 feet or more above sea level. These balls have different pressure – regular balls would bounce too much at this elevation.

Tennis Ball “Fuzziness:”

· Without the yellow (or white…) fuzziness of tennis balls, the game of tennis would be a whole lot different. The fuzz of the tennis balls creates friction. The fuzziness of the balls creates dray in the air, making topspin and backspin more pronounced and more possible.

Numbers on the Tennis Balls:

· Have you ever wondered what the numbers on your tennis balls meant? Do they reference the weight or style of the tennis balls, etc.? No.

· The numbers on the tennis balls are simply for your benefit – if you are playing with Wilson 1 balls, and the people on the court next to you are playing with Wilson 2 balls, it is easier to retrieve your tennis balls when they wander onto another tennis court. The numbers help you tell your balls apart from other players’ balls (assuming that you are not using the same brand and same number of tennis balls!)

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Improving your volley

The tennis volley is one of the most attractive strokes in tennis. Technique is an essential component for the forehand volley and the backhand volley.

Most professional players execute the volley technique with accuracy and at the same time gracefully and effortless. A successful tennis volley lies behind the ability of the players to execute an accurate forehand volley and backhand volley. This technique is a very effective weapon to win points in a tennis match if the players are able to execute it perfectly and accurately. Many top world class tennis players such as Roger Federer and Pete Sampras have flawless tennis volley technique. With proper technique and timing, the tennis volley can be executed without any trouble. However, players must master the technique and develop the proper timing to execute the forehand and backhand volley.

The initial step that a player takes to start the tennis volley is of equal importance as the other executions or movements in volley. The split step is considered as the proper initial step in executing the forehand and backhand volley. The split step also allows the player to be always ready to return any passing shot by the opponent. Furthermore, the split step also gives the players a good balance for him to be able to accurately hit the volley for a particular shot of the opponent.

The ability to react quickly is important in tennis in general but it is much more needed when the player is executing the tennis volley. The player should be able to move his hand, feet and body into the proper posture to return the ball. The player should also be quick and alert mentally to react to the very fast ball movements in a volley. Unlike the other rally like cross-court, the ball in a tennis volley travels very fast at a very short distance. So, the player should be very alert mentally to react to the balls’ quick movements. A very good net player is able to finish the tennis volley and win a point with only 2-3 shots in the net. Same as in other tennis techniques, footwork is also an essential component to execute the perfect tennis volley. Proper footwork should be executed as forehand and backhand volleys are executed. Series of small sprinting steps are needed for the tennis volley to be executed perfectly.

The body movement plays a very important factor in volley technique. The tennis volley does not only involve wrist or arm movement, but the body as well. The player needs to move his body quickly in reaction to the ball direction. The player’s body should be able to move down quick if the ball is low and should be able to move up if the ball is high.

The forehand volley is as important as the other techniques in tennis game. It is an essential technique to master if a player wants to excel in the game of tennis. It is very simple to execute once the players is comfortable playing in the net. One very important technique in executing the forehand volley is to keep it simple but effective. There are several key aspects for a player to be able to execute the forehand volley perfectly and accurately. The first key is the use of continental grip. Another key is the preparation of the players in terms of his body and hands positions. The player should keep his hands between his chest and waist. The chest should be angled at around 45 degree to the net. At the same time, the hand with the racket (right hand for right handed player and left hand for left handed player) should be positioned in such a way that it is not behind the right shoulder (left shoulder for left handed player). The steps can also be a very big factor to execute the forehand volley. When a player executes the forehand volley, he needs to step forwards using his left foot (right foot for left handed player) with his arms extended for the contact of the ball.

Backhand Volley

The continental grip is normally used in executing the backhand volley. This grip usually results to a better backhand volley compared to the other tennis racket grips. The body stance or posture also plays a very significant factor on how attain the proper backhand volley. In a ready position, the player should position himself in such a way that the weight of his body is on the balls of his feet. At the same time, the racket should be held out in front of the body. The backhand volley is initiated by turning left from the waist. After the player’s initial move, the player should prepare the racket for the volley by moving it backward, but it should not go beyond the shoulder. In this case, the player puts the weight of the racket mainly in his left hand. While the player is positioning the racket, he has to step across and forwards with his right foot. To be ready to hit a backhand volley approach, the players should see to it that his wrist is slightly laid back. The player’s elbow should be comfortably distanced in front (not too close or not too far) so that the players will be able to hit the ball accurately and on time. If the player’s elbow is to near or too far, he might be late in hitting the ball. A late return in a volley gives your opponent time to return the ball to his advantage. Another aspect that a player should remember is to bend the knees when returning a low ball. The player should bend his knees instead of the back or body. Another important consideration is the position of the racket head. The player should avoid taking too big of a backswing. If the player does this, it will affect his speed and accuracy.

Things to avoid in a tennis volley

  1. Avoid performing the volley if your preparatory hit (the hit before you start your volley) is not accurately executed.
  2. Avoid excessive forward swinging of your racket when you are performing the tennis volley because this will result in excessive forward motion.
  3. Avoid hitting the ball using a chopping motion, but rather hit the ball in a smooth manner. A high to low swing angle can be used in easy put away volleys. whereas low-high volleys are more effective especially when the ball is played below waist level.
  4. Avoid the excessive bent-wrist stroke by maintaining a firm wrist when the ball touches the racket head.
  5. Avoid hitting the ball too close to your body.
  6. Avoid hitting the forehand and backhand volley from an unbalanced position.
  7. Avoid a very easy volley that enables your opponent to return the ball easily. Try to hit the ball in a corner or target the feet of your opponent. Targeting your opponent’s feet forces him to hit a high ball which will make it easy for you to return.
  8. Avoid using two hands when you hit a backhand volley. The backhand volley is most effective when you use only one hand for the backhand and forehand volleys.

How to achieve world class tennis volley

Players do not need to hit a complicated tennis volley in order to achieve a world class volley, because the volley is accomplished in a very simple way. You need to have finesse and soft touch. Players does not always need to be explosive and powerful on the tennis volley, but it requires perfect and accurate execution to hit the ball to the best position in the court that leaves his opponent off guard forcing him to lose the point.

One of the best shots in the tennis volley is to hit a deep ball rather than a short ball to force your opponent to execute a passing shot. Another important shot in the volley is a sharp angled shot. This puts the opponent off the court, giving the player hitting the volley a great advantage.

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