IF YOU’RE NOT HITTING, YOU’RE MOVING
By Ian Mindell
Tennis is a movement-based sport, yet many of us don’t move enough. What’s that you say? You move all over the place? Ok, let me clarify. We don’t move to the correct spot on the court enough. We don’t move enough after we hit or our partner hits so we end up doing all of the moving after our opponent hits. The question I often get is where a player is supposed to move after they hit. Often, they just stay where they are or go back to the same spot and wait to see what their opponents do.This is problematic in a number of ways.
First, you are creating a movement imbalance by having to do twice as much work after your opponents hit because very little happened after you or your partner hit. This leaves you little time to get your feet set and attempt to hit an effective shot. It tends to feel more like a game of fetch than a planned strategic shot placement. Second, the ability to consistently step into your shot to create easy power and to cut down on the angles is compromised. The lack of recovery movement often leaves you uncertain if you should run forwards, sideways or backwards to get the ball.
So how do we fix this? It is as easy as two simple ideas: V for victory, and the offense, neutral and defensive recovery positions. The V for victory is the movement pattern that you should try to create when you play tennis. Moving on the tennis court from the moment the opponent hits the ball in a V to where the ball is going to be will help get your bodyweight through the shot, cut down on the time your opponent has to recover and react and give you better angles into your opponent’s side of the court.
How do we make the V for Victory movement work? Simple. After you or your partner has hit a shot, make a quick judgment as to what the shot did or did not do to the opponent. For example, if you felt the shot was hit offensively from your side of the court, try to move forward a couple of steps in anticipation of a weak reply. If you felt the shot was hit defensively, look to move back a couple of steps in order to help defend a possible offensive reply from the opponent. This turns your normally reactive tennis game into a proactive one. If you still get caught out of position, try to adjust to a different position on the court the next time a similar situation arises. This way you are always looking to find the ideal spot to recover to each time the ball leaves your side of the court. You are not always going to be in the right spot, so try to move more after you hit, and this will hopefully help solve the puzzle of your opponent’s game and lead you to victory.
See you moving on the courts!