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Hardscrabble Scramble
April 2002 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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The Hitting Zone

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Mike Whittington

Have you ever had one of those days when everything seemed to be just perfect? Chances are you were hitting most balls right in your hitting zone. What is your hitting zone? Your hitting zone is that ideal place that you feel most comfortable hitting a tennis ball. For most people that is waist high but some like balls slightly lower or slightly higher.

A few of my previous articles have discussed footwork. On those days that you are on fire, hitting the ball in your hitting zone, I bet you are moving your feet well. Small adjusting steps help you get into place and "set up" for your shots. When you are hitting the ball poorly your swing might be fine but you could be having a difficult time getting balls into your hitting zone. This could be a result of poor footwork.

Very few people enjoy hitting high backhands. In fact, hitting them from the baseline might be one of the more difficult shots in tennis. Rather than hit this shot repeatedly in a match, it would be a good idea to think of moving your feet so that you take the ball on the rise or move way back and let the ball drop. Either way your goal is to hit more balls in your hitting zone rather than in an uncomfortable position. Of course, you still need to know how to hit those high backhands but you should try to avoid them as often as possible.

If you watch tour players you will notice that they take many balls on the rise. This can be a little more difficult to time for the average player but for the tour player it helps them to hit more shots in their hitting zone. I once read that golfer Greg Norman felt deadly accurate from 125 yards. He positioned most of his drives so that he had that 125 yard shot into the green. A tennis player does a similar action by moving his/her feet. The idea is to get into position and hit the shot you want to hit rather than the shot your opponent forces you to hit. This means good footwork and taking more balls into your hitting zone.

Spend some time finding the ideal height for your best shots. Then play a few sets and think about getting into position to hit those shots. I think you'll find that you will feel much more in control with just a little more footwork and thought.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


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