What is the proper follow-through for a forehand or backhand? What should I be doing with my footwork? What is the best grip at the net? Each of these questions is like asking a golfer, which club should I be using? Don’t feel bad, I see these same questions being debated throughout the coaching world as well. Having a variety of shots available to pull out in a variety of tactical situations is where the real advantage lies.
It seems everyone is looking for that one magic technical pill to unlock the mysteries of tennis, but the answer is…it depends. You have to understand that tennis is an “open skilled sport” meaning that the conditions out on the court are constantly changing, such as the height of the ball, the speed, the spin, the trajectory and where you are on the court. Pigeonholing your game into simple compartments like a follow-through or a backswing, stalls your development and puts you at a distinct disadvantage.
I think the best answer to helping us sort all of this out came in a simple comment by an Aussie friend of mine named Brett Hobden. “The key to player development is in finding technical solutions to tactical problems”. In other words, rather than spending all of your time trying to groove that optimal forehand follow-through, which will only work a small percentage of the time anyway, learn shots that will advance you tactically and learn how to do it from a variety of ball types and positions on the court. Getting back to my golf analogy, golfers can have up to 14 clubs in their bag to help them with a variety of situations they’ll encounter out on the course, such as a driver for hitting long distances and a putter for shorter strokes on the greens. It may help to
think of your tennis game as a giant toolbox. Sit down and do an honest evaluation of where you are with your game and try to determine what tools or shots you’re missing. Begin with the most important tools like a consistent and reliable serve and work out from there. Singles players often require slightly different tools than doubles players and if you’re struggling to figure that out we have several expert Tennis Professionals on hand who would be happy to assist you!
Tennis is a complex game, but if you understand what is happening at your level and can look ahead to the next level and the skills those players possess, you can begin to see what tools are most important in taking your game to the next level.
I look forward to seeing you on the courts!
Ron Steege, Director of Tennis
Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club