nodot nodot
Tennis Warrior
September 2008 Article

Tennis Warrior Archive

Send a message to Tom

Get Tom Veneziano's book The Truth about Winning! at Amazon.com

Tennis Server

Do You Want To Be A Better Tennis Player?

Then Sign Up For A Free Subscription to the Tennis Server INTERACTIVE
E-mail Newsletter!

Tom Veneziano You will join 13,000 other subscribers in receiving news of updates to the Tennis Server along with monthly tennis tips from tennis pro Tom Veneziano.
Best of all, it is free!

Tennis Features Icon TENNIS FEATURES:

TENNIS ANYONE? - USPTA Pro John Mills' quick player tip.
TENNIS WARRIOR - Tom Veneziano's Tennis Warrior archive.
TURBO TENNIS - Ron Waite turbocharges your tennis game with tennis tips, strategic considerations, training and practice regimens, and mental mindsets and exercises.
WILD CARDS - Each month a guest column by a new writer.
BETWEEN THE LINES - Ray Bowers takes an analytical and sometimes controversial look at the ATP/WTA professional tour.
PRO TENNIS SHOWCASE - Tennis match reports and photography from around the world.
TENNIS SET - Jani Macari Pallis, Ph.D. looks at tennis science, engineering and technology.
MORTAL TENNIS - Greg Moran's tennis archive on how regular humans can play better tennis.
HARDSCRABBLE SCRAMBLE - USPTA pro Mike Whittington's player tip archive.

Tennis Community Icon TENNIS COMMUNITY:

Tennis Book, DVD, and Video Index
Tennis Server Match Reports
Editor's Letter
Become a Tennis Server Sponsor

Explore The Tennis Net Icon EXPLORE THE TENNIS NET:

Tennis News and Live Tennis Scores
Tennis Links on the Web
Tennis Warrior Banner

Green Dot
Tennis Warehouse Logo
Green Dot

What really is a bad habit?

Tom Veneziano Photo
Tom Veneziano

In my experience as a tennis coach, the more I learn about players' own individual styles of play, the more I question what really are bad habits in tennis. How do you describe a bad habit? Everyone is so worried about developing bad habits that they run from teaching pro to teaching pro and stress themselves out attempting to stave off the dreaded 'bad habit'! They read books and tennis magazines and study videos seeking answers to the ultimate tennis strokes.
Now do not get me wrong. I'm not telling you that there are no guidelines to follow when learning to play tennis. What I am telling you is these guidelines are far too rigid and in many cases totally incorrect! Do you know how many 'bad habits' there are in tennis history of the past that are now not only accepted as correct, but often preferred?
From the 1950's through the 60's and on, tennis pros were teaching that holding two hands on the racket for the backhand was a bad habit. They claimed two hands limited the player's reach and had too many drawbacks. So pros insisted that players stick with the one-handed backhand. Onto the professional scene came the likes of Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors and Bjiorn Borg. All with the two-handed backhand 'bad habit.' Well now maybe it's not all that bad! So the tennis professionals and amateurs slowly embraced the two-handed backhand to the point where nowadays the majority of players have the two-handed backhand 'bad habit.'
An interesting historical fact to note is that in the 1937 Australian Open between Vivian McGrath and John Bromwich both players had two-handed backhands. Was it accepted then? Not even close! In fact, it was ridiculed. Below is a searing excerpt from the Time Magazine 1937 archives specifically describing the experts' response to Vivian McGrath and his backhand. See what you think?
Time Magazine, Monday, 10 May 1937:
"When Australia's Vivian McGrath appeared on the international tennis scene four years ago, experts could not have been more astonished had he been a kangaroo. For all backhand shots McGrath held his racket with both hands. For a first-class tennist to do such a thing was so unthinkable that tennis experts, instead of trying to explain it, simply regarded McGrath as an antipodean freak."
Lots of "antipodean freaks" are around today. You may even be one!
And how about the swinging volley that at one time was considered a bad habit? Just another 'bad habit' gone right! Don't forget the big looping forehand of Bjiorn Borg with massive topspin... again another 'bad habit' gone right! The so-called experts said he could not win Wimbledon with those big looping strokes. He won five victories in a row at Wimbledon and the experts were nowhere to be found. Now everyone has the 'bad habit' of hitting with a looping forehand.
How about the 'bad habit' of tossing the ball high on the serve. I remember watching the great Ivan Lendl toss the ball so high on his serve it would go off the television screen. His timing was set for that type of ball toss. I say... leave him alone!
Not too long ago hitting with an open stance on groundstrokes was a 'bad habit.' Now it is becoming the standard.
Can you see why I do not teach with excessive technical information? First, learning is an individual process. A bad habit for one player is fine for another. Second, the tennis profession is constantly changing the idea of what a 'bad habit' is. Third, and this is the key, most players' 'bad habits' are just part of the learning process. An example would be taking the racket back late on groundstokes. This is nothing to worry about. Taking the racket back late is just part of the individual learning process. You do NOT have to force the racket back. Eventually preparing the racket properly will resolve itself. This is a timing issue that will be resolved by hitting thousands of balls... no need to over-think this so-called bad habit.
How about the bad habit of falling off-balance when hitting a stroke? Not a problem. Just keep swinging and in time your balance will improve. Falling off-balance is just a phase of learning that all players MUST go through.
Roger Federer has lots of 'bad habits.' He jumps up on many of his groundstrokes. He hits his forehand with his elbow too far from his body and, according to one commentator, he also comes too far across his body on his forehand. The commentator then said that Roger makes it work, so leave him alone. However most players do not execute the forehand that way. I have also seen Roger hit the swinging volley 'bad habit.' If you were to do some of these things you would be immediately sent to your room without supper and then off to the local pro for an overhaul!
Hmmm, I wonder when Roger acquired all these 'bad habits'? Why didn't anyone correct him? Aha, I have the answer! In the August 2005 Tennis Life Magazine, Roger's mother was interviewed. She explained that when Roger was younger than 8 years old he would hit the tennis ball against a backboard for hours while she and her husband were playing competitive tennis. Roger would only rest to eat or get a drink. Apparently Roger Federer played tennis alone for hours and hours and hours and hours. Little by little he developed all these 'bad habits' and has won 12 grand slam tournaments with them!
There is no way you can monitor every little movement in tennis each minute you play. Practice some of the simple techniques which you have learned, but do not stress yourself out if your stroke is not perfect. A 'bad habit' today could be the next great shot of the future. Just like remembering "the next shot is more important then the last mistake," remember, when it comes to the process of learning, keep moving on. The wisdom of the body is smarter than you are!!! Spontaneous and intuitive playing will come to the rescue after you have spent hours and hours and hours hitting thousands of tennis balls. Have a great day... and a great game!

Green DotGreen DotGreen Dot

Tennis Warrior Archive

If you have not already signed up to receive our free e-mail newsletter Tennis Server INTERACTIVE, you can sign up here. You will receive notification each month of changes at the Tennis Server and news of new columns posted on our site.

This column is copyrighted by Tom Veneziano, all rights reserved.

Tom is a tennis pro teaching at the Piney Point Racquet Club in Houston, Texas. Tom has taught thousands of players to think like a pro with his Tennis Warrior System.


In Tom Veneziano's book "The Truth about Winning!", tennis players learn in a step-by-step fashion the thinking the pros have mastered to win! Tom takes you Step-by-step from basic mental toughness to advanced mental toughness. All skill levels can learn from this unique book from beginner to professional. No need to change your strokes just your thinking.

Audio CDs by Tom Veneziano:


Web tennisserver.com
nodot nodot
The Tennis Server
Ticket Exchange

Your Source for tickets to professional tennis & golf events.
Australian Open Tickets
Dallas Open Tickets
Delray Beach Open Tickets
ATX Open Tickets
Mexican Open Tickets
BNP Paribas Open Tickets
Miami Open Tickets
Credit One Charleston Open Tickets
US Men's Clay Court Championships Tickets
Wimbledon Tickets
Citi Open Tennis Tournament Tickets
Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic Tickets
National Bank Open Womens Tennis Canada Tickets
Odlum Brown Van Open r Tickets
Tennis In The Land Tickets
US Open Tennis Championship Tickets
Laver Cup Vancouver Tickets


Popular Tennis books:
Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis-Lessons from a Master by Brad Gilbert, Steve Jamison
The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance by Jeff Greenwald
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
Most Recent Articles:
October 2022 Tennis Anyone: Patterns in Doubles by John Mills.
September 2022 Tennis Anyone: Short Court by John Mills.




"Tennis Server" is a registered trademark and "Tennis Server INTERACTIVE" is a trademark of Tennis Server. All original material and graphics on the Tennis Server are copyrighted 1994 - by Tennis Server and its sponsors and contributors. Please do not reproduce without permission.

The Tennis Server receives a commission on all items sold through links to Amazon.com.


Tennis Server
Cliff Kurtzman
791 Price Street #144
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Phone: (281) 480-6300
Online Contact Form
How to support Tennis Server as a Sponsor/Advertiser
Tennis Server Privacy Policy