Tennis

Key to Success: Australian Doubles Formation – September 2019

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When you and your partner are getting destroyed from a strong cross-court returner, you and your partner should be open you make an adjustment. One of the best ways to take away the cross-court return is to play from the Australian Doubles Formation. The Australian doubles formation is when the partner of the serve stands on the same side of the court. So if you are serving from the deuce side, your partner is standing in the deuce service box. This formation will force your opponents to return their serve down the line which is a low percentage shot. Why is this a low percentage shot? Because the net is higher with an extra six inches and the court is shorter by four and a half feet.

 

In order to make this work, when serving you will need to stand close to the center court mark. You will need to do this for two reasons. One is to avoid hitting your partner with the serve and two because you will have to hustle cross court to hit the down the line return. Another reason to try this formation is that it catches your opponents by surprise. A lot of players have never seen this formation before and do not know how to play against it. If you can catch your opponents off guard and get them overthinking, they will probably overthink their shots and start making a lot of errors. Try this formation the next time you play and watch them scramble to figure out what to do. Keep on Playing!

Tennis

Key To Success: Not Too Close – August 2019

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Hitting approach shots and attacking the net is a great tactic in both singles and especially in doubles. It puts pressure on your opponents to do something with the ball. Some players will try and pass you close to the lines, over your head or they will hit the ball right at you.​ This brings us to our topic of discussion. You want to get close to the net to be in optimal volley position but you do not want to get too close.

 

You always hear us coaches yelling “close to the net”. This terminology in tennis simply means move forward. You do want to close in on the net to avoid hitting low volleys at your feet, but you do not want to have your nose on top of the net. Here are three reasons why:

 

Number 1: If you accidentally touch the net during a point before the ball bounces twice on your opponents side, you automatically lose the point.

 

Number 2: If you are too close to the net, then you give yourself less time to react to the ball to hit a good volley. The more time the better.

 

Number 3: When you are on top of the net, you expose your self to be lobbed. Even if your opponent doesn’t hit a great lob, if you are too close you have no chance of tracking the ball down.

 

So, how close should you get? To measure, go half way between the net and the service line and then take one step forward, which will be your best location to stand. It is absolutely fine to step forward to hit a strong volley but make sure you recover and step back into the best volley position for your next shot. Keep on Playing!

 

Tennis

Key to Success: Covering The Center of the Court In Doubles – July 2019

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When your opponents hit the ball down the center of the court, both you and your partner should react to hitting that ball. The worse that could happen is that you and your partner will clash racquets and that’s OK. The last thing you want to do is not react and then look at each other after the ball passes the both of you and say, “I thought you had it.” If there is time for you and your partner to decide who is going to hit the center ball, rule of thumb when going for that shot is, the player who has the forehand hits it. This rule also applies for when overheads are hit high down the center of the court as well. The backhand player would hit a weak overhead where as the forehand overhead will be much stronger and more likely able to finish the shot. Communication is huge when it comes to covering that center ball. Be sure to say “YOURS” or “MINE.” Keep the phrase as short as possible as you do not have time to shout out full sentences such as “YOU GET IT” or “THAT IS YOUR BALL.”

Cover the middle of the court like a champion and never get stuck looking at each other with your hands up in frustration. As always, Keep on playing!

 

Tennis

Key to Success: How to Improve Your Game – June 2019

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Everyone wants to know what it takes to elevate their game to the next level. If that is you then you have come to the right place! It’s easy to take your game to the next level, the question is, are you willing to do what it takes?

Great Coaching

Find a great tennis coach who can help you clean up some of your bad habits, which can include incorrect grips and unorthodox swing patterns. Cleaning up your technique is the fastest way to get better. If your thought is you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, then be a master at what you do. Perfect your craft weather flawed or not. Do what you do and do it well.

Play More

Put in the time on the tennis court. Another simple way of getting better is simply being on the court—the more you play, the better you will get. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Participate in Classes

Participate in tennis clinics that focus on skill building. Most classes will have a set theme on one or two aspects of the game to work on during the clinic. Listen to the information, absorb the information and apply the information even if you are bad at it in the beginning. We all heard the saying, practice makes perfect.

Match Play

Play more matches. Matches are a great opportunity to measure the things you are doing well while also showing you the areas in your game you are struggling with. When competing, a loss is way more valuable than a victory because it breaks down everything you need to work on. Some players will lose a match and just say ”I didn’t play well.” My questions to you are why did you play bad? Were you struggling with your backhand? Did you not get up to the net enough? Were you not moving well? Did you struggle mentally on the big points? Did you run out of gas? Were you making a lot of unforced errors? After each match, especially one that you lost, you should take a moment to reflect on the things that worked and didn’t work. Losing provides you with a blueprint of what you need to work on.

Eat Right

Nutrition is huge in all sports. You have to fuel your body properly for it to perform at it’s highest capacity. Everyone is different so I am not going to get into too many details, but you should eat and drink the things that give you energy during your time on the court. I will tell you a lot of tennis players eat a lot of pasta before their matches to have the carbs they need to sustain. Know your body and find out what works for you.

Get your Rest

If you show up to a match tired, you probably are not going to be able to give your absolute best effort no matter how hard you try. You would not be as focused as you need to be successful. You also will probably not have the best concentration. Getting a good nights rest is very important for your success on the court.

Get Fit

Last but not least, you need to get your butt in shape. We are very fortunate to have the best of both worlds here at our Club with a full gym and swimming pool. Take advantage of it! Getting in shape helps you be better not only on the tennis court but in all aspects of your life. Benefits of being in shape on the court are as follows: you can move better to the ball, have the strength to hit stronger shots, have the stamina to outlast your opponents and you’ll be able to recover faster to play more matches in the same week.

Hopefully, you find my tips for improving your game helpful. As always, keep on playing!

Tennis

Key to Success: Doubles Players Responsibilities – May 2019

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Server—The server is responsible for keeping track of the score and to announce before the start of every point. They are also responsible for finding your opponents weakness, communicating with their partner and making about 70% of first serves in. The server should take some pace off to make sure this happens.

Servers Partner (Net Player) – The net player should try and be as active as possible at the net looking to pick off anything near the middle of the court. They are also responsible for excellent movement during the point, moving forward when they can see the ball and moving back when they can’t see the ball. Lastly, they are responsible for volleying to the other net player when opportunity presents itself.

Returner—The number one responsibility is to get the ball back in play, preferably away from the net player. The returner should also try to keep the ball low to the server or over the net players head. They are also responsible for trying to get to the net themselves. The team that gets to the net first usually wins the point.

Returners Partner—This player is responsible for assisting the returner with calling serves out, usually deep serves. They should also be alert and keep their eyes on the other net player in case they try and poach. Lastly, this player should be looking to poach on any ball near the center of the court.

Now that you know what your responsibilities are on the court when playing doubles, make sure you are out there doing your job to help you and your partner be as successful as possible. Keep on Playing!

 

Tennis

Key to Success: Doubles Partners Traffic Pattern – April 2019

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In order to be successful in doubles, it is very important for you to have great chemistry with your partner. There are certain traffic patterns some of the best doubles duos abide by between points to keep them both with a positive attitude and working together during the match. Here are the traffic patterns great teams do during every match.

Step 1: After the point is over, immediately make eye contact with your partner.

Step 2: Connect with each other with a high five or a fist pump. This step is extremely important after you or your partner looses a point or makes a stupid unforced error. Your roles as partners are to motivate and encourage one another all the way to the end of the match. If this step is skipped over, then your partner may think you are mad at them even if you are not as it is simply human nature for us to think that way.

Step 3: Walk your partner back to the baseline. During this time is when you discuss strategy and find out where your partner will be serving or returning the ball.

Step 4: Run up to the net in your position for the next point. By doing this, you set the tone as if you and your partner have a master plan and you are ready to execute it. There is also a bit of an intimidation factor in there as well. I’m sure everyone has seen Nadal jumping around during the coin toss along with his fast sprint to the baseline to get warmed up. There is a lot of gamesmanship there as he is sending a message to his opponent that he is ready to hustle for every point and you are in for a tough battle my friend.

If you want to watch all these steps played out to perfection, watch the Bryan brothers play a match and you will see them execute these steps between each point. It’s one of the things that make them the best. Keep on Playing!​

 

Tennis

Key to Success: Lob To The Backhand Side – March 2019

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When stepping on the court to play a new player, the first thing you should identify is whether your opponent is left handed or right handed. This will help you identify where your lobs should be hit. By establishing this in the warm-up, there will be no indecision when it’s time for you to execute your lobs, because you have already identified where you need them to go before the beginning of the match. You are not always going to be able to hit the perfect topspin lob that lands deep, just inside the baseline. During a point, if you can hit your lob to your opponent’s backhand side and it falls a little short, usually that shot will not come back as your opponent will miss hit it. If your opponent is able to get the ball back, it will likely come back weak and you will have an opportunity to put the point away.

Most players can not hurt you from their backhand side. If you are just out there hitting lobs to your opponent’s forehand side, then your opponent will likely finish the point and you will not give yourself an opportunity to be successful. Play smart and hit your lobs to your opponent’s backhand side.

As always, Keep On Playing.

 

Tennis

Key to Success: Overhead Placement Over Power – February 2019

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One of the biggest mistakes tennis players make when trying to win a point with overhead is by focusing more on power over placement. In my opinion, placement is far more important than trying to hit the ball hard. A lot of times an overhead is hit as hard as you can right back to your opponent. This may work against some players but against other players who have excellent hands and are very skilled at defensive shots, that ball is going to come back every time.

How many times has this happened to you? You hit an overhead to your opponent, they block it back, you hit it harder, they block it back again and then you miss the third overhead deep or into the net. We all know what happens when you or your opponent brings one more ball back. It usually ends with an error.

The key to success is taking a little bit of pace off of the overhead and focus more on placing the ball where your opponent is not. I always tell my students that I’d rather hit a 30mph winner than a 100mph ball that’s coming back. Use your short angles of the court, place the ball where your opponent is not or simply hit the overhead down the middle when playing doubles.  Your overheads will really become great when you can execute your shots with both power and placement. Until then, just keep it simple and focus more on your placement.

Keep on Playing!

 

Tennis

Key to Success: Best Return of Serve Options for Doubles Players – January 2019

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Tennis players should view the tennis court as a blank canvas and you are the artist with all of the creativity. The key to being a great returner in doubles is to be very creative and mix up your returns. Listed below are all of the best returning options for doubles players from your best to worse returns.

 

Return Cross Court Deep

It’s always great if you can return a ball right back to the server deep into their court. If done successfully, you will give the returner no time to react immediately after they serve.

 

Return Cross Court Short Angle

Hitting the return cross court short with an angle can catch the server off guard and force them to run forward barely getting to the ball. If they are reaching for the ball then there is a strong possibility of them popping it up for your partner or you to pick it off.

 

Lob Cross Court Deep

This play is effective if you are playing against someone who serves and volleys a lot. I wouldn’t suggest this for every play but every so often to keep them on their heels and potentially pinned back on the baseline. If you can execute this lob well enough then they may think twice about closing in so quickly.

 

Chip and Charge Cross Court

If you are a master at slicing then chipping their serve with underpin and charging the net can be very effective. This play could take your opponent by surprise and force them to come up with a great shot. They may even take their eye off of the ball because they are so focused to see what you are doing as you charge their way. It may even force them to just make an error.

 

Lob Down the Line

Lobbing the net player down the line is always a great option as it puts the other team in disarray immediately after the return. It also forces the server to have to run that ball down if the net player can’t get to it. If this play is used well, there is a great chance that there will be a lob coming your way for you to put away, so be ready and look for it.  If you are playing against a team that does not move very well then that lob will not be coming back at all.

 

Passing Shot in the Doubles Alley

Using this play can be risky but can be very effective if done right. I like to use this play toward the beginning of my matches to send a message to the net player not to poach. Even if my team loses the point, it may be worth it because that pesky net player may think twice about making any moves because of that one shot you hit. This shot can also work if there is a player who likes to stand very close to the center of the court. Hitting down the line will force your opponent to move more toward the line to free up your cross-court returns.  One last way this will work is that element of surprise. Every once in a while you may catch that net player sleeping.

 

Right at the Net Player

The final play is for you to go right to the net player. By hitting right at your opponent one of three things will happen. One, they will get handcuffed and hit back a weak volley. Two, they will be getting out of dodge to avoid the ball. Three, you are going to hit them. It is a part of the rules. Please remember that tennis is a gentlemen’s sport so please make sure you apologize if you hit your opponent. As you can see this play is way down on my list, our intention is never to hurt anyone so please be mindful before doing this play. One measly tennis point is not worth risking a long time friendship.

 

Next time you are on the court be sure to try all of these great return options. Paint that beautiful picture with your great creative mind. Outwit, outplay and outlast all of your opponents with as much variety a possible. Keep on Playing!

Tennis

Key to Success: Take the Pressure Off and Win – November 2018

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A lot of players struggle when the pressure is on during a match and fail to execute their best shots when it matters most. Listed below are some tricks you can use to take the pressure off of yourself so that you can play your best tennis.

Stop Caring and Have Fun

So many players get caught up with the end result of winning or losing that they end up putting pressure on themselves that it paralyzes their game. When you care too much, you start playing tentative and scared which prohibits you from actually playing your best tennis. You start playing not to lose instead of playing to win. The key to playing your best tennis is to stop caring and just have fun. I know it’s easier said than done but once you can master this, you will see a huge difference in your performance.

Flip the Score

How many times have you had the lead in a set or after winning the first set, turnaround and end up losing? A mental trick you could use would be to switch the score. If you are winning 5-2, pretend that you are losing 2-5. Typically, players who are behind play harder to try and catch back up. This will be very helpful if you are one of those players who struggle with closing out a set or a match.

Prepare Yourself for Success

Another way to take the pressure off yourself is by going into your matches feeling prepared. When you know that you have been working hard by taking private lessons, participating in clinics and match play, you feel more confident in your skill set to play a strong game. Knowing that you have put in the work and are ready to win will go a very long way.

Lose Going for your Shots

The worst that could happen is that you lose a match. So what, it’s not the end of the world. When you go into every match not caring about losing, you will play better. Lose a match going for your shots opposed to losing not going for them. You will keep yourself in every match if you play hard from beginning to end.