Do you ever wonder how tour pros make the game look so easy?
One thing that really sets good players apart is their
ability to have good balance. A player can have great
strokes and great strategy but if he/she can't get to the
ball and be in a position to use those strokes or strategy
it does them very little good. Although tennis instructors
try to get you to hit with good form, many times in match
play you are forced into hitting on the run or in an
unconventional way. Having good balance will allow you to
keep some semblance of your stroke and hopefully get the
ball where you want it to go.
Being fast isn't always good enough. It is one thing to be
able to run from point A to point B with lightening speed.
It is an entirely different problem to be able to get there
and be "set up." By being "set up" I'm referring to having
good balance and potential to hit your target. Tour players
often hit shots off their back foot, on the run, and all
sorts of ways but they are so good that they can control
their body through good balance and maintain their swing
plane. Many top players hit while they are in the air! Now
being able to control your swing while you are in the air is
tough to do! Remember Jimmy Connors' backhand?
So how can you work on having good balance? Have your
teaching professional move you side to side and work on
getting to the area before the ball does. The goal is to get
there and do something to the ball and not have the ball
force you into doing something. Try to keep your upper body
a little more still when you are on the dead run. Just
because your legs are moving wildly doesn't mean your arms
have too also. Practice hitting balls on the rise and don't
allow your opponent to push you back. This is tough to
learn but will really pay off in the long run. Be aware of
how much your feet are moving. Work on taking smaller steps
when you are near the ball so that you can stay in position.
Larger steps can cause you to step into the path of the
incoming ball and restrict your body turn. Work on agility
drills that force you to change directions to get to the
shot. The more that you do this, your anticipation will get
better and you'll see yourself having better balance on tough
To hit with good balance you always have to stay sharp and
keep moving. If you ever allow yourself to get lazy or flat
footed you will be slower getting to the ball and more likely
to be off balance at contact. Make it a point to stay on your
toes and be aware of where the ball is coming from and where
you want it to go.
Continue to work on your mechanics but try to incorporate some
drills into your workout to help your footwork and agility.
Better balance will mean a better game.