Amazing to see how Fed puts the squeeze on his opponent. Before you even look up, he's on top of the ball smacking it the other way. Kudos to his excellent recovery footwork and seamless transition inside the court. When you take the ball early by two feet inside the court, that's two feet less the ball travels toward you and two feet less toward your opponent. Take away four feet of total distance traveled by the ball - now that's serious damage
The contact point is crucial to everything - power, accuracy, and stability. Your entire muscle system works to generate momentum, but that energy has to culminate at a very specific moment in time, hence your contact point. Striking the ball too close to your body means that your swing did not reach it’s peak momentum. Striking the ball too far away from your body means your energy dissipated into thin air before it could reach the ball.
At your optimal point of contact, you should feel the racquet almost “snap” through the hitting zone like a whip cracking and releasing the built up energy. It’s the same “snap” that Mike Tyson gets on his uppercut or Barry Bonds with his baseball swing, where every ounce of energy is unleashed upon a precise target at a single moment in time.
I recently saw a coach teaching students to lean forward on the transition volley split step, so if someone touched their back, they'd almost fall flat on their face. The reasoning was to hit out in front and cut off angles.
This is ridiculous.
What about a ball hit to the left, right, or lobbed..? The entire point of the split step is to move in any direction, and that can only happen if you're balanced. With your weight falling forward, you're basically saying, "pass me."
That's the difference between Andy Roddick barreling into net and Roger Federer transitioning gracefully with pristine balance and posture.
You always hear stories of the 3 year old who hit the ball against the wall thousands of times. It's normally a success story.
Either way it builds good discipline because it's so darn boring. It's much like playing a grinder to hits a repeatable ball that lulls you to sleep, So... you have to keep your mind engaged on what you're doing/working on because there's not much external stimulus.
Enjoy the simple pleasures of tennis like the feeling of the ball on your strings and your muscle systems working together.
Hitting against a wall, among other isolated drills, is a great way to bring the focus on your body mechanics that are often forgotten during the dynamism of a match.
Tolerance To Pain, one of the five aspects of mental toughness, is something you can't avoid. Your legs will feel like they're on fire. Who's going to volunteer for that..?
You have to reframe the whole idea of pain. Here's some ideas:
"The more pain I can take the stronger my body will be."
"The more pain I can take the better I'll feel after having pushed myself."
"The more pain I can take - that also goes for my opponent. And clearly I can take more."
All pain is temporary. As Andy Roddick once put it, "I'll talk to my body about it tomorrow."
If you're going to model yourself after somebody, model yourself after the best. If you're doing 80% of what Federer is doing, you'll be in pretty good shape. If you're doing 80% of most other players... well.. maybe not so much
Tennis is a game of time and energy. If you don't use energy to aggressively attack the ball with your feet to take time away from your opponent, you'll have to use more energy hitting a bigger shot to make up that time. If you do neither and hit lower quality shots, you'll be burning that energy from running around on defense. It's gotta come from somewhere.
Do the eyes sparkle...?
Or are the pupils dull and glazed over...?
In a way, it's sad to see players who don't have or lost the passion for the game and are just going through the motions, regardless of their results. The typical Tony Robbins, "success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure" applies to tennis all the same.
Speaking of pet peeves...
in doubles, when you hit a solid volley and/or multiple volleys and your partner is immobilized at the baseline watching the ball go back and forth. In theory, your partner should be using every free second to reposition.
Imagine sticking an aggressive volley and having your opponent on their heels, but allowing them to loft an easy defensive shot to your unassuming doubles partner waiting to hit a groundstroke at the baseline. Gross.
The only three things that matter: mental toughness, physical toughness, and technical perfection.
At the start of a match, it may be wise to give yourself a margin of safety for the first few games. This means selecting safe targets to get your teeth into the match, feeling your legs beneath you to find the rhythm of the ball, and assessing your opponent's abilities to understand what might be most effective.
After those first couple games, once you've got a good sweat going and calibrated your strokes to the conditions of the court (because every match the conditions will be change), there's no reason you can't open up and take more risks.
If you can start smacking winners from the first shot of the match like Roger Federer, then do it. But most players can't and there's nothing wrong with easing yourself in. Just don't mistake playing with a margin of safety with playing passive, conservative, or timid.
All it means is don't aim for the lines!
Anyone who is mentally engaged can be a tough opponent. Don't let your guard down... the moment you underestimate your opponent your intensity, effort level, and focus dips. When you give your mind permission to go on vacation, it may not be there when you really need it.
It's never one thing. Roger Federer doesn't do one thing 50% better, he does 15 things 5% better.
Don't gloss over the details.
To be a master of your craft you need to maximize all the 1%ers to separate yourself from the pack, especially as your skill level increases and the margin between players becomes smaller and smaller.
Generally speaking... high ball - strike the inside quadrant of the ball. Mid ball around the torso - strike the back of the ball. Low ball - strike the outside quadrant of the ball.
Smile... enjoy yourself on the court. Are you only in a good mood if you're playing well..? But what are the chances you'd play well if you were in a really good mood...? Maybe a better question is how often do you play well when you're in a really bad mood...? Maybe the correlation works both ways.
How you move influences how you feel, but how you feel also influences how you move. Keep that in mind... you can't necessarily control how you play on a given day, but you can control your attitude.
The first four balls are close combat: the serve, the return, the 3rd ball, and 4th ball.
Close combat accentuates both the upside and downside of a situation. For example, a good volley can finish a point while a bad volley can lose it. The point will end either way.
That's why they call it a one-two punch. A serve and 3rd ball or return and 4th ball will dictate how the point ends. Once a 5th ball is established, the point becomes far more structured like playing a point off a drop feed where you'd have to construct the point. Know your strengths and weaknesses to determine whether you'll do more damage in close combat or a structured scenario.
No matter how great the coach... all a coach can give you is a blueprint to execute on. The player has still has to put in the hard yards and make it happen.
Love the camera angle for Miami... can actually see the players. Still waiting for the day when court level tennis is televised. Tennis is so much more beautiful in 3D than 2D
It's interesting when players yell, scream, and get emotional.
It happens even more so in a team environment like college tennis, where there's a social element to impress your teammates - to appear as if you're trying really hard or that you care. I find it strange and misunderstood.
Roger and Rafa don't obnoxiously scream or pout... I'm sure they'd do it if they found it beneficial, but nobody questions Roger's effort if he's stoic after a loss.
Instead of wasting energy in senseless emotion, they focus all their energy into playing great tennis. Not to say Roger and Rafa won't reward themselves with a fist pump, but it's genuinely felt emotion and not a front to cover up an insecurity.
Trusting your shot... walking across a balance beam a foot high is no problem right?
Raise the beam 50 ft in the air and you'll start trembling and second guessing yourself because now there's a serious consequence for failing. Remember that pressure is just an illusion.
What's the worst that can happen if you lose a tennis match..?
The consequences only have as much significance as you give it.
So when players are having trouble translating their level of play from practice to a pressure situation, they need to remember it's the same balance beam. Hit or miss... you've got to trust your shot.
Tennis is an impromptu exercise. You never know what's going to happen because the dynamic of the match changes with each opponent. It's also hard to predict because your opponent will make an adjustment to every adjustment you make.
Yes, there are general rules and guidelines, and yes, there may be general objectives you're trying to achieve strategically. But much like impromptu public speaking, where you wouldn't worry about exact words or phrases, don't worry about an exact shot or situation during a point.
Know the end goal of what you're trying to accomplish, and like a public speaker who doesn't sound scripted and speaks from the heart, let your energy flow and your natural instincts guide you.
It's human nature to look for the easy answer. Is it the racquet, the strings, the string tension...?
There are no silver bullets in tennis. It's 98% player, 2% equipment.
There's nothing you can do to change overnight... it's what you are over what you do. Build strong over time!!
As a coach, you should not make the decision for the player.
You should sell the player on why a decision may be good or bad, and allow the player to come to their own realization and make that decision for themselves.
That's how you gain commitment, avoid conflict, and create lasting change.
It's so fundamental... but most players don't hit their split step on time during transition volleys.
It's hard to tell in real time but in slow motion there's a big difference between hitting a split (meaning your feet hit the ground) when your opponent makes contact with the ball and being suspended in the air when your opponent makes contact with the ball... time is oh so precious
Rafa takes a cold shower before every match... it's good in so many ways...
It stimulates your metabolism, the shivering is your muscles twitching to generate heat. You might temporarily hyperventilate but the deep breathing opens and expands your lungs. Your mind also is prepped for uncomfortable situations...
People who take cold showers have a higher concentration of white blood cells, which means a stronger immune system. Take a look at the Wim Hof method... there's got to be some mental toughness if you're able to do that routine