Debunking Myths

Low to High

"Low to High"...if you know how to generate topspin and get the ball over the net then you are already doing enough low to high.

If you do this too much you will be prone to shanking the ball off the bottom of the racket frame, not to mention launching the ball long if hit harder.

If you intend to hit a topspin lob or a high topspin groundstroke it's ok to go a little low to high as long as you take some pace off the ball. However, once you decide to hit a harder flatter shot, "low to high" does not work.

It is much better to drive striaght through the ball...

Furthermore, when playing matches, most of the balls get up higher, around the chest or shoulder level, and need to be hit with a "side-spin", not a traditional topspin.

The side spin is generated by swinging across the ball instead of low to high, usually using "open stance" footwork to make it easier to handle these high balls and get some power too.

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Step Across

"Step In or step across"...for many amateurs this get them into the footwork position of a "closed stance", at the wrong time.

What your coach is trying to say is that you have the opportunity of a shorter landing ball, and you should move up quickly and attack the ball by stepping straight towards the net.

If you have to step across the shot becomes more difficult to handle. First, you must get behind the ball, and then you can step straight in, rather than making it a closed, stepping across stance which should only be used when needed, if you are moving to, on the run or stretching for the ball.

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Aim Deep in the Corners

Aim "deep in the corners" would be great if we all could hit the ball exactly where we want, but even on a good day we may be a few feet off on average.

Aim inside the lines by at least a couple feet to account for any missed targets. If you watch for yourself, the best players in the world use the 3 foot rule...they hit the majority of balls 3 ft. inside sideline, 3 ft. past service line, and 3 ft. over the net. Use these spots to aim, your unforced errors will decrease.

Also, If you want to hit angles, the most deadly of any shot, you want a shorter landing ball. So the best places to aim when hitting an offensive shot is around the service line, a couple feet inside the side line, creating an angle that will have your opponent on the run...

*****If you are playing some defense then a deep ball may get you out of trouble, however if your opponent is coming into the net, once again you need to hit a Short ball at their feet. The bottom line is that SHORT ANGLES WIN,

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Hit it Hard

"Hit It Hard"...hitting the ball hard and flat usually ends up with lots of errors and ups and downs.

Not to mention that if your opponent is good they will love the pace and a ball right in their strike zone.

The best pros hit with lots of topspin and sidespin and put the ball in the right place out of the strike zone, up high or down low on their opponents. So get it up on your opponent with some topspin and make them deal with an awkward shot.

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Little Steps

Little Steps...Little steps are great if you are in position and close to the ball...

However, if you need to get to the ball or reach for it you will want to take a couple loger strides like a 100 meter runner to cover the most ground quicker. Sometimes it may be one longer step, other times when you are further away from the ball it may be more.

When the pros are sliding on clay courts, and even on hardcourts these days, they are taking the one last longer stride that they have time for to get to the ball.

Be ready to have to use whatever size strides or steps needed for each particular ball. Each and every ball will require a slightly different footwork pattern, and if you limit yourself to short, smaller steps you will not cover any ground to get to a ball far away from you.

Longer steps to get to the ball...Shorter steps once you get to the ball and are in the process of perfecting the footwork before contact.

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No Man's Land

"No-Man's Land"...this is the area of the court where the pros take control of the point, usually taking the ball as a regular volley or swinging topspin volley into the open court, instead of letting the ball bounce and letting your opponent recover to a good position.

It is a little more difficult being further back in the court, however it gets easier with a little practice, and finishing points in this fashion makes things a lot easier. This will eventually be one of your favorite plays!

PRACTICE all of the shots that you may see in "no-man's land". Swinging volleys when you can hit above net level...
Bouncing short balls that you can hit above net level...
Traditional volleys on lower balls out of the air.
Overheads on balls that are lobbed...

Practice all of these situations!

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Drop Shots

How many times have you heard your coach say "DON'T DROP SHOT". Well you were probably just doing it at the wrong time.

If you use a dropshot at the right tim, when you are in a good position, you will be OK. The right time to hit one is when your opponent is behind the baseline, and when you are inside the baseline. This makes the shot easier for you because you are closer to the net. And the drop shot doesn't have to be great if they are behind the baseline.

When YOU are running up to a drop shot there are few options depending where the player who hit the dropshot is standing.
  1. deep down the line, if the player is on the baseline or coming into the net behind the dropshot.
  2. up the middle, if the player stays on the baseline.
  3. dropshot back, in front of you or cross court if you can hit a winner.

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Play with Confidence

"Play With Confidence"...this is ridiculous....... if you haven't put in the hours on the court, and you know you can't hit the ball consistently in a practice situation, there is NO WAY it will magically appear in a match.

The only magic happens after hours and hours of not just "practice", but "perfect practice".

In other words, confidence comes with being able to perform perfectly in practice first. Executing the same shots, under the same circumstances, on the same type of ball as they would be in a match.

If your "coach" just feeds you balls then you are not practicing the same balls or circumstances as when you are in a match with the same type of pressure to make every shot. Moving, hitting, recovering, anticipating, all on balls that may not go exactly where you are expecting them...


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Playing Up

Juniors "playing up" in age...unless you are winning everything in sight, you should be playing mostly in your age group, where you can learn to win matches.

At times playing up leads to more losing than winning and that can take a toll on someone's mental game. The most important thing is learning how to win matches, and then tournaments.

If you are losing first or second round every time it may be time to take a step back so that you can work on your weaknesses while you still win some matches.

Don't forget how to win!

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Losing ... It's Not Bad

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