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Hardscrabble Scramble
September 2002 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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Smooth Means POWER

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Mike Whittington

My club recently hosted a professional golf tournament. I'm an avid golfer so this gave me a chance to see these guys up close and possibly get some tips. I was amazed at how far they could hit the ball. It was well beyond what the average player hits. Where I would hit a driver they would hit a 3 wood. On holes that I would hit a 5 iron, they would hit a 7 iron. The part that really got my attention was that these players didn't really swing that hard! How was it that I was swinging harder than they were but not getting the distance? They weren't physically bigger than me and I have good equipment. Where is my power?

After watching these guys for a couple of days it clicked what was actually happening and also how it pertains to tennis. These guys had good tempo, something that isn't discussed much in tennis. They were gaining more power not because of faster swing speeds but because they were hitting the sweet spot of the club. As a result of good tempo and consistently hitting the sweet spot, they were able to gain much more power than they would by increasing their swing speed and hitting the ball outside of the sweet spot.

The same applies to tennis. Think about when you hit a shot near the frame. You lose power no matter how fast you swing. I'm all for fast swing speeds and I think they become a normal part of today's tennis. However, I believe that you should swing as fast as you can control. I really don't believe that most professional golf and tennis players swing as fast as they can. I think they swing as fast as they feel they can consistently hit the ball in the sweet spot.

It can be difficult to find your correct swing speed and tempo but it something worth working on in your game. We all know players that are so inconsistent that if we just give them one more shot they will hit the fence - the type of player who has a strategy of hard, harder, and hardest. Your swing speed will differ on the type of shot but some players only have one type of swing and one speed -- fast!

We've all had those days, although they might be few and far between, where everything goes perfectly. We have speed and control and the game seems to be clicking. I bet you'll find that on those days you aren't coming out of your shoes trying to gain power. You are at your ideal tempo, watching the ball well, and swinging within your game. Try finding your ideal swing speed in practice and your game will gain power and hold better in competition.

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Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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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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