Have you made your new tennis resolutions for 2017? At PRC, we are going to recommend two actions in which we hope will become a habit for every adult and child. One action (split step) is the foundation of footwork during the point and the other action (putting the racquet in the non dominant hand) is related to mental toughness. The pro staff is going to emphasize these two actions in all of the clinics.
Using the split step can improve your footwork and aid you in reacting and moving to the ball quicker. It gets your body ready to move toward the ball and allows your body to gain good balance to react to balls at different angles, pace and trajectories. The timing is critical and the split step should be performed every single time your opponent is about to make contact with the ball. The movement consists of making a little hop or jump off of both feet into the air and then landing onto your two feet in the same spot. This will promote loading, where your knees will flex and will help you “spring” out and start toward the ball. Often, recreational players will attempt to split step while approaching the net, but not think to use it at the baseline or prior to the return of serve. Remember, it should be used every single time your opponents hits a shot. Watch Roger’s footwork below and notice his shoulder turn:
The second goal or resolution for the New Year is one that can be performed by a player regardless of age or skill level. It can immediately help you project a more positive image on court and is a component of mental toughness. Immediately, as in the first 1-3 seconds following a shot or point, transfer your racquet from your racquet hand (usually your dominant hand or right hand for a right handed player) to your non racquet or non dominant hand (left for right handed player). Carry the racquet in a relaxed manner with the racquet head up. This action needs to become a habit and automatic response, regardless of the success of the prior shot or point. You will be projecting a positive image and assisting you in “letting go” of the previous point. Watch the pros – when they are playing well, their racquets are in their non racquet hand and up. When they are not playing well, their racquets tend to be down or even worse, abused. Remember, keep both heads up – yours and your racquet’s!