Quantcast
nodot nodot
Turbo Tennis
September 2007 Article

Contact Ron Waite

Latest Turbo Tennis Article

Turbo Tennis Archives:
2003 - 2014
1996 - 2002

Tennis Server
HOME PAGE

Do You Want To Be A Better Tennis Player?

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

You will join 25,000 other subscribers in receiving news of updates to the Tennis Server along with monthly tennis tips from tennis pro Tom Veneziano that won't be found on the web site.
 
Best of all, it is free!

Player Profiles:
 
Top Pros (Women)
tennis ball Serena Williams
tennis ball Na Li
tennis ball Agnieszka Radwanska
tennis ball Victoria Azarenka
tennis ball Simona Halep
tennis ball Petra Kvitova
tennis ball Angelique Kerber
tennis ball Maria Sharapova
tennis ball Jelena Jankovic
tennis ball Dominika Cibulkova
 ... more profiles
 
Top Pros (Men)
tennis ball Rafael Nadal
tennis ball Novak Djokovic
tennis ball Stanislas Wawrinka
tennis ball Roger Federer
tennis ball Tomas Berdych
tennis ball David Ferrer
tennis ball Juan Martin del Potro
tennis ball Andy Murray
tennis ball John Isner
tennis ball Richard Gasquet
 ... more profiles
 
Tennis Features Icon TENNIS FEATURES:

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.
 
TURBO TENNIS - Ron Waite turbocharges your tennis game with tennis tips, strategic considerations, training and practice regimens, and mental mindsets and exercises.
 
TENNIS ANYONE? - USPTA Pro John Mills' quick player tip.
 
WILD CARDS - Each month a guest column by a new writer.
 
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.
 
MENTAL EQUIPMENT - Explore the mental side of the game with Dr. John Murray.
 
TENNIS WARRIOR - Tom Veneziano's Tennis Warrior archive.
 
HARDSCRABBLE SCRAMBLE - USPTA pro Mike Whittington's player tip archive.
 
TENNIS EQUIPMENT TIPS.

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:

Pro Tennis Calendar & Event Links
 
Tennis News and Live Tennis Scores
 
Tennis Links on the Web
 
nodot
Turbo Tennis
 
Green Dot
 
Tennis Warehouse Logo
 
Green Dot

 
nodot
Mindless Movement

Ron Waite Photo
Ron Waite, USPTR

When tennis is played at its best, there is an effortless coordination between the conscious mind and what many refer to as muscle memory. Watching players like Justin Henin and Roger Federer blend these together in matches beautiful to say the least. Bringing these two elements together in harmony in our own games is ecstasy!

Those of you who read my column on a regular basis know that I have a firm belief that the conscious mind should be alert but not thinking per se during match play. The analytical nature of the conscious mind can really mess up a person’s game.

To prove my point, consider the following. You are playing a point. You have finally been given a short ball by your opponent. You are moving in for the kill. You have practiced the crosscourt put away shot over and over. It is where you "naturally" want to place this winning shot. As you setup, you change your mind and decide to go down the line instead. Result? You miss the shot and the opponent wins the point. The conscious mind got in your way.

Another example? You are at the baseline ready to serve your second serve. A thought for unknown reasons pops into your conscious mind, "I am going to double fault." Sure enough, you do indeed miss your second point. Here again, the conscious mind got in your way.

Train Harder. Train Smarter. Register Now. IMG Academies.
Train Harder. Train Smarter.
Register Now. IMG Academies.

 

Being consciously mindless on the court is not all that desirable either. For example, not realizing that you are playing a lefty (assuming this is a new, unknown opponent) happens more frequently than you imagine.

Not knowing which is your opponent’s better wing (forehand or backhand), is a cardinal mistake in competition. Only the conscious mind can arrive at these insights.

So, truly "perfect" tennis requires both conscious thought and "autopilot" muscle memory. When you have both going at the right times, your game can literally soar to new heights.

When playing a point, it is of key importance to put the conscious mind on "awareness only" mode. Don’t evaluate what is going on during the point. Simply, try to observe what is going on, and be alert with respect to the ball. If you are focused on the ball with a relaxed body and quiet mind, you will probably find that your muscle memory kicks in quite nicely.

The time to let the conscious mind be analytical (and it is always striving to be analytical) is in between points, or better yet, during game changeovers.

There are lots of ways to quiet the conscious mind, and if you are like most tennis players, you will need to use all of them.

To have muscle memory you need to practice. Drills, practice matches, backboard work, etc. need to be done regularly to allow the other-than-conscious-mind the opportunity to learn what it needs to learn.

Having said all of this, my column this month is going to focus upon mindless movement on the court.

We spend lots of time practicing our strokes, but very little time working on how we move to the ball. If we move to every ball in an appropriate manner, our chances of hitting well go up precipitously!

First, there is the need to do foot drills to help our muscle memory mind learn how to move appropriately.

Here are two drills that I believe are the most beneficial to helping this learning occur in a rapid manner.

  1. SQUARE THE CIRCLE: In this drill, you simply go to a court and literally run the baseline, sidelines and an imaginary horizontal line that is directly in front of the net and parallel with the net.

    When you are on the baseline or the imaginary net line, your steps should be side steps. By this, I mean that you are facing the net and shuffling your feet. You take a stride to the right, let’s say, with your right foot. You then bring your left foot to the right to be adjacent to the right foot. You want to make certain that your feet are on the baseline or imaginary net line at all times. You then repeat this process until you reach a side line.

    Now, you begin to move forward, let’s say. Take each step as a short step (no long strides). These small steps are the steps we need to adjust properly as we approach a shot in a game. Do these forward, mini-steps, as fast as you can. If you hear your shoes squeaking, you are doing this correctly.

    If you have completed a horizontal series of side steps at the imaginary net line, and reach a side line, you will want to move backwards. Here, you want to take rapid steps backwards making certain to keep your feet on the sideline (not that easy to do). Pump your arms hard to force rapid movement. Always be on your toes as you move backwards.

    The complete cycle of moving with side steps at the baseline, forward mini-steps at a sideline, side steps again at the imaginary net line, and backward steps at the other sideline has every important foot movement needed in the game of tennis.

    Practice this drill regularly! Do it in a clockwise direction for 5 to 10 cycles. Then, perform the drill in a counter clockwise direction.

    If you are not near a court, you can use a parking lot or a gymnasium floor and pretend the court lines are there.

    During the off season, this drill can be very useful in helping you maintain proper muscle memory with respect to footwork.

  2. SADDLEBROOKS: I have given this name to this particular foot drill because I learned it while training at the Wesley Chapel resort with the same name. I must tell you that this drill is going to make you become winded very quickly. But, it builds speed, endurance and "wind" in addition to helping with footwork. My collegiate players hate this drill because it is so demanding. However, it pays huge dividends in terms of fitness and footwork.

    In essence, you are going to do ten 40-yard sprints. After each sprint, you jog back to the starting line to begin the next sprint. Be certain to jog slowly. This replicates the running/stopping/running nature of playing tennis.

    The first two sprints are straight on sprints that one normally associates with a wind sprint.

    The third sprint is a side step sprint, where you move as quickly as you can. Let’s say you begin with moving with your left foot to the left. Of course, the right foot moves to meet the left and you do the side step again. In this example, you are moving to your left with the side steps.

    The fourth sprint involves side steps in the opposite direction. Remember that you have jogged back to the starting line. So, you will have to turn your body around to move to the right (since the third sprint was done to your left).

    The fifth sprint is a backwards sprint moving as quickly as you can. You need to pump the arms as you move backwards, and stay on your toes. You want to make certain that there are no obstacles or pebbles, etc. in your pathway, as you will literally not be seeing where you are going. Often times, I will do this sprint and pretend that I am hitting overheads as I move back.

    The sixth sprint is another, traditional forward sprint.

    The seventh sprint involves crossover steps, let’s say to your left. Literally, you are putting one foot in front of the other as you move it. In this example, you take your right foot and move it to your left. It crosses in front of your left foot before touching the ground somewhere to the left of this left foot. Now, you bring the left foot to the left moving it behind the right foot as you do so. The left foot in this movement lands to the left of the previously moved right foot.

    Players need to develop crossover steps to move well when approaching the net and when moving back a distance to hit an overhead smash. We don’t practice these nearly enough.

    The eighth sprint is a crossover sprint moving to the right. Remember that you have jogged back to the starting line. So, you need to turn your body around to move to your right, in this example.

    The ninth sprint is the same as the fifth sprint…a backwards sprint.

    The tenth, and last, sprint is a straight out, traditional, forward sprint done as fast as you possibly can. Now, you jog back to the starting line wheezing for oxygen! Be certain to walk around (don’t stop moving) in order to get your breath back.

    If you can do three of these Saddlebrooks in one training session consider yourself an expert!!! Two is the maximum number recommended. Believe me. You will feel the benefits of doing this drill.

How To Play Tennis Videos from TennisMindGame.com
Play better tennis with TennisMindGame!
 

So with these two foot drills, you are beginning to drill into your muscle memory the basics of proper court movement. However, applying them in a match requires some different practice.

When you are practicing with your hitting partner, dedicate a little focus to how you approach a ball to hit it. I believe that the mind should have easy to remember methods of moving to balls and following shots/serves. If you spend some time working on the following in your practice sessions, you will find that your conscious mind will not need to remind you how to move in a match. Your muscle memory mind will have been trained to incorporate these into your "autopilot."

When moving to hit a ground stroke, always move as if you want the ball to hit the center of your chest. This technique will automatically force you to be at the right height to hit the ball properly. If the ball is bouncing low, your chest goes down, and you are forced to bend at the knees, not the waist. If the ball is bouncing high, you will find yourself going up on your toes, as you should to make proper contact with the ball.

In my "off season" I will even practice this movement using a wall or backboard to refresh my muscle memory’s hard drive.

I promise you that if you move to each ground stroke in this manner, your footwork will improve automatically without any analytical process needed. You will find your timing to the ball automatically improves because this technique will force you to make little mini-step adjustments as you approach the ball. If you need to run to get to a wide ball, this technique automatically will help you make a great first step, which needs to be a powerful stride.

When volleying, the secret to proper movement is to pretend that you want the tennis ball to hit your head. (Not to worry. This won’t happen.) I learned this technique from Oscar Wegner some years back. It is simply the best way to teach proper movement at the net. You will bend your knees when you should and you will find yourself moving forward after each volley.

After you have hit your shots, proper movement is still needed! Again, I have some guidelines to help you deliberately work on this during your practice sessions.

After hitting a ground stroke, the rule has always been to get back to the center of the court. This is well founded, but I would modify the adage a bit.

After hitting a ground stroke, drift back toward the center of the court. This drifting will necessitate the use of side steps which we practiced in the two drills described earlier. By drifting, you have time to really see the ball come off your opponent’s strings. If you are focusing your conscious mind on just seeing this, you will automatically know what direction in which you need to move. By drifting, you will have enough time to run to a ball that is going to force you wide, and you will probably find that you are rarely, if ever, having a ball hit behind you.

With serve/volley, chip/charge, approach shots and volleys…always follow the path of the ball. (If you are not planning on following your serve in, you will, of course, not be following your ball.)

With all of the shots mentioned above, I have observed coaches and tennis teaching pros make what is very simple become very complicated.

By following the ball, I mean this. Let’s say that I am serve and volleying. I hit my serve wide to the deuce court to my opponent’s forehand (assume he or she is right handed). Well, the path of my service was a line that moves to my left. If in my imagination, I follow the path that the ball actually traveled, I will automatically be in the ideal position for my volley. I may get passed, or I may miss the volley… but my court position will be ideal, given my opponent’s possible replies.

Let’s say that I am hitting a backhand slice approach shot down the line. I, again, should follow the path of the ball which would have me move straight ahead. Now, I am probably somewhere between the center strap and the left hand post (I am right handed). I am automatically in the ideal place to cover both of the possible replies (down the line or crosscourt). Statistically, the down the line response is more common. By following the path of my approach shot, I am shading a little bit in favor of this reply.

In the volley game, it is imperative that the net person be prepared to hit another volley. This is definitely the case in doubles. By moving in the direction of my volley, I am automatically positioning myself in the most ideal location for a second volley if needed.

Finally, we have the movement associated with moving back to hit an overhead smash. Again, there is a simple way to practice these where you muscle memory will take over and your conscious mind needs only to see the ball.

Pretend that you want to catch the lobbed ball with your non-racquet hand. In doing this, you body will automatically move as it should to put you in a position to hit the best possible overhead. You will find that if you have practiced the aforementioned drills that your feet will either move in crossover steps or rapid back pedal steps as needed. You won’t have to think about it, it will just happen.

Hopefully where you live, you will have a few more months of great tennis weather. This game is, in my mind, best played outside in the elements.

However, many of us north of the equator are going to find ourselves playing less tennis during the winter months. This is not a bad thing. We all need give our minds and bodies some rest from competition.

But, I promise you… If you spend the remaining time till the spring rolls around again practicing these two foot drills, and consciously training your muscle memory to learn "mindless movement" on the court, you will be a definite, tennis overdog!!!

Green DotGreen DotGreen Dot

Turbo Tennis Archives:
1996 - 2002 | 2003 - 2014


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 Ron Waite, all rights reserved. Questions and comments about these columns can be directed to Ron by using this form.

Ron Waite is a certified USPTR tennis instructor who took up the game of tennis at the age of 39. Frustrated with conventional tennis methods of instruction and the confusing data available on how to learn the game, Ron has sought to sift fact from fiction. In his seven years of tennis, Ron has received USTA sectional ranking four years, has successfully coached several NCAA Division III men's and women's tennis teams to post season competition, and has competed in USTA National singles tournaments. Ron has trained at a number of tennis academies and with many of the game's leading instructors.

In addition to his full-time work as a professor at Albertus Magnus College, Ron photographs ATP tour events for a variety of organizations and publications. The name of his column, TurboTennis, stems from his methods to decrease the amount of time it takes to learn and master the game of tennis.


 

nodot
nodot
Google
Web tennisserver.com
nodot nodot
The Tennis Server
Ticket Exchange

Your Source for tickets to professional tennis & golf events.
 
Wimbledon Tickets 6/22-7/6
 
Rogers Cup Tickets Toronto 8/4-8/10
 
Western & Southern Open Tickets Cincinnati 8/9-8/17
 
US Open Tickets 8/25-9/8
 

 

Tennis MindGame

 
Popular Tennis books:
 
Smart Tennis by John Murray
 
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:
 
Tennis Warrior: Who's in Charge on the Tennis Court? You or Your Emotions? by Tom Veneziano.
 
April 2014 Tennis Anyone: Set, Lay, Press and Brush by John Mills.
 
April 2014 Turbo Tennis: The Concept Of Control In Tennis by Ron Waite.
 
April 2014 Wild Cards: Revenge of the Yankees! Great Britain Dominates The U.S. In San Diego by Vince Barr.
 
April 7, 2014 Between The Lines: Becoming A Superstar -- Risers Of First Trimester 2014 by Ray Bowers.
 
March 2014 Turbo Tennis: Seven Universal Strategies, Tactics and Tennis Principles by Ron Waite.
 
March 2014 Tennis Anyone: Position of Receiver's Partner by John Mills.
 
Tennis Warrior: Coping with adversity in tennis by Tom Veneziano.
 
March 2, 2014 Between The Lines: The Power Nations In Pro Tennis by Ray Bowers.
 
December 2013 Wild Cards: Tennis Channel's Top 100 Players Of All Time List Constitutes A Double Fault! by Vince Barr.
 

 

 

 

 
 
Featured events in the Tennis Server Ticket Exchanges:
 
  Featured Tickets:
BNP Paribas Open Tickets Indian Wells CA Tennis Garden
Sony Open Tennis Tickets Miami Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
 

  Featured Tickets:
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 13 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 14 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 15 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 16 Finals W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters

  Featured Tickets:
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 11 Third Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 10 Men's Second Round Women's Third Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 9 Men's Second Round Women's Third Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 8 Second Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona

  Featured Tickets:
Sony Open Tennis Session 13 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 3rd Round Women's Singles 4th Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 14 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 3rd Round Women's Singles 4th Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 15 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 4th Round Women's Singles Quarterfinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 16 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 4th Round Women's Singles Quarterfinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center

  Featured Tickets:
Sony Open Tennis Session 21 Tickets Miami Men's Singles Semifinals Women's Doubles Semifinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 22 Tickets Miami Men's Singles Semifinals Women's Doubles Semifinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 23 Tickets Miami Woman's Singles Final Men's Doubles Final Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 24 Tickets Miami Men's Singles Final Women's Doubles Final Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Great American Beer Festival Tickets Denver CO Colorado Convention Center

 
 
"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.

 

Tennis Server
Cliff Kurtzman
Editor-in-chief
2323 Clear Lake City Boulevard
Suite 180-139
Houston, Texas 77062-8120
Phone: (281) 480-6300
Fax: (281) 480-7715
Online Contact Form
How to support Tennis Server as a Sponsor/Advertiser
Tennis Server Privacy Policy