Modern Advanced Tennis
To be able to play today’s game at an advanced level, you need to incorporate some or all of these advanced techniques into your tennis game. Tennis has evolved so much into a power and speed game, but having an all-around game will still produce the best results day in and day out. Try to learn and master these tools – Topspin groundstrokes; Continental grip for volleys; Continental to Eastern backhand grip for serves; topspin/kick 2nd serve; open stance forehand and backhand; scissors kick on deep overheads; inside-out forehand; swinging topspin mid-court volley; drop shot; slice backhand.
Sounds simple!! Just remember what tennis legend Bill Tilden said: “It takes at least 5 years to make a tennis player; at least 10 years to make a champion.”
The Warm Up and Game Plan
Tennis is a sport that requires mental strength as much as it does with physical strength. Top players are intelligent players who understand how the game works. Knowing how to use your brain can really help your game and take you to another level. For example, during the pre-match warm up with your opponent, observe how your opponent hits the ball. Notice which grip your opponent is hitting with. Certain grips produce certain shots – seeing how your opponent holds the racket for a particular stroke can help you deduce a way to counter that shot and devise a strategy. (e.g. players with a Continental grip for a forehand have a hard time with high shots; or players with a Western grip for a forehand have a hard time with low shots). Observe the backhand as well. If your opponent has a weak backhand then it is good idea to focus on that side during the match.
Try to find out as much as you can about your opponent’s style of play during the warm up. Does your opponent practice his volleys or request lobs to hit overheads during the warmup, or does he mainly stick to the baseline? How does he move? How fast is his first serve and is it consistent? Once you have answered these questions, come up with a game plan as to how you are going to win the match. Utilizing the pre-match warm up time to observe your opponent and coming up with a strategy can make the difference in winning and losing a match.
The Open Stance Forehand
If you watch top level tennis these days – juniors, college or pro – you will rarely see players using the classic, old-school footwork when hitting their forehands (turn sideways and step toward the ball with the left foot [right handers]). The overwhelming majority of forehands hit are “open stance, where the shoulders and hips are turned sideways, but the right foot steps sideways into the shot, not the left foot. And when hitting open stance, the shoulders and hips rotate and “open up” to face forward. Players will use the open stance when the ball is hit wide to their forehand, making them run; on high balls; on deep balls; or a combination of these 3 things. There just isn’t time to take a step with the left foot towards the ball – inevitably, the left foot steps sideways and the body gets in the way preventing hitting the ball in front of the body. Contact will always be cramped and behind the body. Hitting open stance gets the body out of the way and allows a player to contact in front – and with the hips rotating while hitting, there can be tremendous power in the shot. Players will only step forward into the shot with the left foot if the ball coming to them is shorter, lower and right to them – something that doesn’t happen a whole lot in tennis.
Try the open stance forehand yourself – then you can hit Djokovic type winner forehands from anywhere on the court!!
The Topspin Lob
The topspin lob can be one of the most devastatingly fantastic and successful winning shots you can hit – or it can be a dismal failure. Assuming you can hit a topspin groundstroke, the key to the success of a topspin lob is when you attempt it.
Remember, there are two kinds of lobs – offensive and defensive. A defensive lob should be hit when your opponent is at net, and you are in no position, whatsoever, to try a groundstroke passing shot – you are on the dead run, hitting going backwards, off balance, way behind the baseline, stretched out wide. Your lob should be hit very high, aimed deep, down the middle, and should be hit flat or slight underspin.
A topspin lob is a tremendously offensive shot and should only be attempted when you are in great court position to hit a clean groundstroke passing shot – but you decide to hit the topspin lob, instead. You are on balance, near or inside the baseline and you can hit the ball about waist level. You must now throw in the element of disguise – you must make your opponent think that you are going to hit a topspin groundstroke – same preparation, same windup, same swing. You must make your opponent lean forward, ready to close in, thinking he will hit a volley – but at the last instant, you aim your beautiful topspin lob over his outstretched racket. Pull that off and the crowd will go wild!!