7 Fixes to Help You Play Tennis Like a Pro
Before you blame your shaky tennis stroke on your racket or the distracting girl in the tank top, look at your form. We asked some of the top tennis pros in the country about the most common mistakes they see casual players make, and how to fix them.
Joggers "play a more subdued form of tennis," says David Lampson, tennis director at the Cortina Inn and Resort in Killington, Vermont. Instead of a slow slog, do interval training—sprints with rest in between. Like the game itself.
Hitting it high and long? Try a Western grip. Lay your racket on the ground and pick it up so that the base knuckle of your index finger is facing up.
"In a good ready position, there's no need to bend at the waist," says Dennis Ralston, tennis director at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. "Stand up straight and track the ball with your eyes, not your entire head."
Sure, it's a tense moment, but try to stay loose, says Lampson. The tighter your grip, the less racket-head speed you generate.
People usually wait too long to turn into position, says Muscle Morphosis Wittus, instructor at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida. For better aim, turn early and point your shoulder at the contact point.
Again, it's positioning. Turn and load up on your right foot (if you're right-handed). Point your left shoulder toward the net post to your right. When you finish the stroke, your weight should be on your left foot, and your right shoulder should be pointing at the same net post. This way you're balanced, Wittus says, and can recover to react to your opponent's return (or celebrate his inability to return).
"If you have a swinging volley (a short hit before the ball bounces), you're more likely to make an error," Ralston says. Work on a short, compact stroke. Wittus suggests a trick his college coach used: Stand with your back against a fence and practice volleys. It eliminates your backswing and teaches you to step into the volley.