Are you looking to step up your tennis game this season? Whether you're picking up a racket for the first time or just looking to brush up on the basics, we have got a detailed breakdown for you. SportRx brings you 5 tennis tips to make sure you don’t get served out on the court!
Tip #1: Mini Tennis Warm-Up
The first tennis tip we want to serve up is the "mini" court method. This warm-up allows the player to slow down their swings and get a better feel for the ball. To begin, both you and your partner should stand in the middle of the service line. Then you will simply rally the ball back and forth. The goal is to keep the ball live for as long as possible, simply by hitting gentle taps. For better consistency, try to hit the ball at waist height and land your shots halfway between the net and your partner.
During a rally, it’s important to maintain good habits. This involves staying light on your toes and always maintaining a ready position by keeping your racket in front of you. Once you and your partner hit 15-20 balls back and forth, you’re ready to take the rackets back to the baseline!
Tip #2: How To Hold a Tennis Racket
In tennis there are three main ways to hold a racket: western, eastern, and continental grips. There is no single grip that is right for everyone, and many players use grip variations. Most players naturally hold the tennis racket in an eastern forehand grip. Many tennis pros, like Roger Federer, use this grip. For an eastern grip, take your dominant hand and place the index knuckle on the third bevel, in line with the string face.
The backhand can be tricky, because most players will change their grip slightly. If you have an eastern forehand grip, then most likely your backhand will change to a continental grip. For the continental grip, simply shift the index finger of your dominant hand to the the 2nd bevel and hold the handle as if you are shaking someone’s hand.
Tip #3: Swing Motion
The swing motion is critical because it's what dictates the direction and outcome of the shot. Whether you’re hitting a forehand or backhand, you should focus on swinging “low to high”. As the ball approaches, you should first turn to the side while bringing the racket back. Then with a fluid motion, from a low to high, swing to make contact with the ball. Starting low and dropping the racket before contact allows the swing to accelerate. Finishing high allows the player to create top spin on the ball.
During contact, it’s important to keep your racket face closed so you don’t “accidentally” hit any slams! A closed racket face implies that your strings are vertical to the ground. Practice swinging without the ball, and don’t forget…from low to high!
Tip #4: Footwork
For players just starting out, one of the most difficult techniques of tennis is footwork. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if you were born with Federer’s talent, if you’re not in position to hit the ball you won’t have much success. Every tennis shot you encounter will never be the same, but here are some footwork tennis tips to help you prepare for the return shot.
Stay on Your Toes
Don’t get caught flat footed. Staying on your toes will allow you to be more dynamic and explosive to chase down the ball.
Don't Get Too Close
Most beginners have a tendency of getting too close to the ball which results in hitting with a bent elbow. To understand how far you should be from the ball, extend your arm while pointing the head of the racket away from you. Ideally, you want to position yourself to hit with a straight arm.
Use Stutter Steps
While you’re running and approaching the ball, you should slow yourself down by incorporating quick and small steps. This will help the player get into the perfect position to hit the ball. If there is one player that does this better than anyone, it would be the king of clay, Rafael Nadal.
Tip #5: Proper Tennis Gear
The last tennis tip we strongly recommend is to invest in the right gear for you. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, proper tennis gear is an important performance factor. Before hitting the court, consider using the right sized racket, proper tennis shoes, and protective eyewear for the sun.
Tennis rackets come in varying sizes for both the head of the racket and the grip. If your racket is not sized correctly according to your height and weight, it can cause pain in the wrist and tennis elbow. It's a good idea to go into a store, try out the racket in person, and even have an expert fit you.
Many beginners also tend to wear their running shoes on the court. However, running shoes are not recommended because they don't offer the necessary ankle support a tennis player needs. In fact, they can increase the chances of spraining an ankle. Tennis shoes are designed for lateral movement and provide better stability for your ankles, which helps players avoid injury.
Last but not least, sunglasses can help protect players eyes from harmful rays that reflect off the ground on the court. A good pair of sunglasses can help reduce glare and give more contrast to the ball, making it pop. For more information on how to pick the right sunglasses, please read our Buyer's Guide for Tennis Sunglasses.
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