Tennisopolis : Tennis Social Network

Hi everybody!! My name is Mike Pollard, i am a teaching pro here in Titusville, Florida. I would love to help you guys with any tennis questions you have.Wether it be about form or strategy..I am USPTA P1, PTR Professional, and PTR Wheelchair tennis certified. I am also the Titusville High School girls varsity and JV coach. I teach all ages and abilites from 4 year olds to Division 1 college players. Please let me know if i can help..

Tags: coaching, drills, lessons, strategy, tips

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Thank you so much Mike! I've been outside all day working, so as soon as I warm up, I will start the questions rolling!
Thank you Mike for guiding us new "guys" on the block in the art of this game.
Hello all! It's a totally awesome idea to be able to have our questions regarding tennis answered here! I'm located in Singapore, a small dot on the world map. It is within SouthEast Asia.

Well, I have played tennis for about a year and a half now. I have been very active, going for practice sessions with friends, apart from fixed lessons with my coach (an hour plus of training) and practicing on my own basis. The contact time with my coach unfortunately, is very minimal and I fear this is the cause to my problem.

My groundstrokes are taking a real long time to get honed up! After about 20 lessons (30+ hours) with my coach across months, I have been practicing my groundstrokes, but there don't seem to be any improvement. My forehand groundstrokes are passable, but they lack consistency. The point of contact on my forehand, as according to my coach is that it is too high; at my waist height. He suggests that I bring it down lower, in a loop, meet the ball, and follow through. I am very eager and I'm very worried as well. I want to really improve on my groundstrokes!

I'm very concerned. Is it my lack of practice? How to achieve more consistent groundstrokes with more power and control?
Hey Catherine, 20+ lessons is a great start, but are you practicing outside of the lessons to build more muscle memory? Tennis is so much about confidence. You can build confidence in your forehand through repitition. Once you get the form and contact point that works for you, then the real work starts. You have to litterally hit a million balls. This is so when you are out playing on your own, there is no thinking, only reacting (hopefully with good form if your coach is good)

Remember, your optimal strike zone is waist to chest high, arm length away.

As far as the loop goes, i am a huge fan. I try to get all my clients to use the loop for better timing and more power. Using the correct loop creates racket head speed that will turn into power. But more importantly, you must use your body to create power through hip and shoulder rotation. Alot of people think power comes from the arm so they try to swing real hard and the shot just ends up flying all over the place.

Try using a ball machine to feed the ball right to you, turning sideways keep your feet planted and hit a few balls using just hip and shoulder rotation. When you turn sideways (if your a righty)your set up is left shoulder, head, right shoulder, racket. At the end of the shot you sould be right shoulder, head, left shoulder, racket. That is using your body for power..
Thanks for your prompt reply! I have been busy with tennis these days, meeting up with school friends to hit around. I will try to post up more questions here.

Somehow I feel that it is the loop that also contributes to my problem. If I meet the ball to low in my loop, then the ball will fly way off the court. Currently I'm struggling to find the "right" spot in my loop to hit an effective yet powerful forehand.

Indeed, the misconception I had was that I had to swing harder and faster to create more "solid" and "speed" shots! I understand now that truely, it is the hip & shoulder rotation that makes the differences in many shots. By the way, I'm a righty. Currently I'm using the correct set-up as you mentioned, but I think I have to practise more on the rotation as well, because currently it does not seem so smooth.

Also, you mentioned that the optimal strike zone is from waist to chest high. But if I'm using the loop method (which actually creates more topspin on the ball), then my racket will meet the ball lower than waist height, isn't it?
Once you get the feeling for using the body for power, now you have to control the shot. This is done by using topspin.

You have to remember, you cant always make contact below the waist. What if the ball hit to you is a high ball, what if your opponent is using topspin? These balls will definatley be higher than your waist. The point of the loop is to help you get under the ball no matter how high it is. You need to focus more on making contact with the "bottom of the ball" then your low to high swing and the angle of your topspin grip will make the ball rotate and create topspin.
Alright. Are there many types of topspin grips? I am currently on the Eastern Forehand grip. Is the loop motion also very important in a topspin shot?

What is the differences in all the types of grips?
the eastern grip is used for hitting flat balls. It is not a good grip for generating topspin. This is probably why you are flying balls. On your contact point the racket face is too open.
There are 2 main topspin grips: semi-western and western.
The semi -western grip is a little easier to use and is the most common grip. The best way to get into this grip is to drop your racket. Then pick it up normally and you should be in the semi-western grip. When you make contact, the racket face will stay closed making the ball stay lower.

Remember, dont try to generate the topspin at first, just swing normal and let your grip do the work. Use the loop to generate racket head speed. and to help you get under the ball to produce topspin. If your balls are going into the net, your contact point is too high on the ball. Keep aiming to hit the bottom of the ball then swing low to high.
Oh yes, I have gained quite some knowledge from these advice! Thank you so much!

I would love to discuss on another aspect of tennis, which is the footwork in tennis.

I have a rather big-built, and tend to be slower on the court. I try to overcome my inertia by trying to do a little split step before every return ball. Sometimes I even find myself "bouncing" too much. Is it a bad thing? Is it alright to bounce too much?
one of the biggest difference between pros and normal players like us is the footwork. the pros have perfect footwork which allows them to take full advantage of their shots. Normal club players often find themselves out of position hitting awkward shots because they are too close or too far away from the ball. like i siad earlier you must move your feet fast enough to get every ball in your strikezone.

The most important position to be in on the court is the split-step ready postiton. When your shot bounces on the other side of the court split-step! Then be prepared to move in any direction you need to get the ball in your strikezone.

Now, i cant make you run faster, but you can run SMARTER. Make sure your first couple of steps are in a direction that will allow you to cut the ball off quickly.. For example i see this all the time, a ball is hit out wide, and the player starts to run sideways to go get the ball. This is not a good angle to cut the ball off, therefore the player ends up having to take too many steps to get the ball, and when they do hit it now they are running off the court. Run smarter, get to the ball in the least amount of steps then when you are recovering, split-step when your shot bounces, and be ready for the return
Okay.. When do we use side steps, and when do we use cross steps?
I use too much of my wrist when I hit my forehand. It causes my wrist to hurt, but I can't seem to change my habit of using the wrist. Ideally, in a forehand, is it true that we should not use our wrist?

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