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Tennis Warrior
July 2019 Article

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Where is the muscle in 'muscling the ball?'

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Tom Veneziano

Have you heard the term "muscling the ball?" What exactly does this mean? I believe that most players think that it means you are using your muscles too much to hit the ball over the net. This is true, but do you not use your muscles when you play? Of course you do. So, what is the difference between using your muscles correctly to hit a tennis ball and using your muscles incorrectly and "muscling the ball" over the net?
The answer lies in when and how you use your muscle in relationship to your timing. If you attempt to let your muscles control your timing you will muscle the ball, but if you let your timing control your muscles you are not muscling the ball.
This is extremely important to understand. If you decide that you would like to develop more power in a shot and you proceed to hit harder than your timing will allow, your shots will become erratic and inconsistent. I have seen this scenario often. A player muscles the ball to gain more power and completely loses control.
Power comes from rhythm and timing, not just clobbering the ball. Many players figure if they just swing harder that should speed up their shots. And it does speed up their shots as they hit the back fence, hit the pro, break some windows and frighten a few passing dogs along the way.
Timing and rhythm come from structured practice and repetition. If you would like your timing to control your muscles properly so that you do not muscle the ball, you must head to the practice courts, not just swing faster.
When you are at the court hitting ball after ball, keep reminding yourself to relax and let the power take place naturally from whatever timing you possess at the moment. As your weekly practices continue you will notice that you are producing more power with the same relaxed swing. This is how you know that your timing is controlling your muscle.
If you decide to let your muscles dominate your timing and begin blasting the ball for more power, you will notice an out-of-control, tense, erratic stroke that rarely offers you increased power. You will work tenaciously, but the stroke will still not improve in power. This is how you know that your muscles are controlling your timing and you still need more repetition.
The bottom line: You simply cannot override the body's natural timing and rhythm by muscling the ball -- a shortcut solution that promises immediate supersonic speed but delivers a snail's pace.
The power is in the process!

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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.


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