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Tennis Anyone
December 2011 Article

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On The Rise

John Mills Photo
John Mills, USPTA

As a beginner or intermediate player you are usually fed balls that are on the fall, meaning they have bounced far enough in front of you to allow the ball to bounce, peak and then you strike it on the fall, nearer the second bounce. As you become successful, the pro will challenge you with faster, deeper balls and higher deeper balls. At a beginner/intermediate level the tendency will be to back up to allow yourself more time to hit the deep balls on the fall. This will also work for a short period of time. You will consistently be moving backward, losing position and not using your natural body weight to help you hit the ball. It can be exhausting.
 
To advance out of this level you must train yourself to predict the bounce of the upcoming shot. You must learn to move your feet toward the bounce. As a beginner/intermediate player your racket can be back and waiting before the ball bounces. As an advanced player, many times, your racket must be moving forward before the bounce. This is called "hitting on the rise" or "trapping the ball." After practicing this approach to the game you will quickly see that the height and pace of the ball will become secondary and you moving toward the bounce of the ball will become primary. You will eliminate most of the errors you have been making by allowing the ball to climb over your eye level. The wind will not be such a negative effect because you will not allow the ball to get up high where the wind will torment you.
 
You will not spend your life moving backwards toward the fence. You will be able to generate more power because you will be accepting the pace of your opponents' shots on your racket. It is much easier to hit a ball harder on the rise than on the fall. This is why you see the pros constantly hitting so hard. They are using their opponent'\s pace to add to their shot. Plus, anytime you are moving toward a ball to take it on the rise, you will always have an option to continue going to the net to gain an offensive position. Something you will never do when you are way behind the baseline.
 
Remember, go to the bounce. Hit on the rise as much as possible.
 
Good luck on the courts!
 

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This column is copyrighted by John Mills, all rights reserved.

John Mills currently teaches tennis at the University of Houston, Clear Lake campus. John Mills' experience includes four years as head pro at the Windemere Racquet & Swim Club, where he was responsible for organization of all tennis activities at the club. John also played college tennis at the University of Houston and has spent 20 years teaching tennis at the Memorial Park Tennis Center, the Pasadena Racquet Club, and as the head pro at the Bay Area Racquet Club.


 

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