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jings
02-19-2004, 11:57 PM
A lot of the time I hit my topspin single b/h pretty well, usually when I have more time to prepare. What I'm beginning to find recently, as I play better players, is some of that prep. time is disappearing and I get caught hitting either with my weight on my back leg, but feet sort of in the right position or more often with an open stance and my left leg nearer the ball than my right, although I get my shoulders round enough to get away with it. The result is that rallies are breaking down too often off my backhand side as I obviously lose power with these errors and so fall out of the rally. It tends to happen later in matches so it may be a fitness thing, but I don't make similar errors off the f/h side later on and don't actually feel tired after a couple of hours. I've resorted to hitting more slices later in the game as a result, which keeps me in points but limits the attacking options. Anybody know of any tips / drills that would help me with this - a split step maybe ... All suggestions welcome, thanks.

Eric Matuszewski
02-20-2004, 04:45 AM
Are you hitting one hand or two hand? Two hands takes less time to get the racket up to speed. Watch Agassi and learn a two hander .One handers need to work alot harder with their feet because they need to get there so much earlier (a couple thousandts of a second makes a big diference in tennis).

Either way some gradual resistance training will get you there faster.

I recommend Lunges because they most closely approximate the steping out motion of groundstrokes. Squats, deadlifts and power cleans are good for variation but lunges should be your bread and butter.

Go do an hour of personal training with an ACE Certified personal trainer find one at ACE.org (I am one) to make sure your doing these movements correctly (you can hurt yourself it you do them wrong). It will be money well spent. You'll be tempted to buy a fix all my problems miracle racket, don't that's is a waste.

For inspiration imagine your Agassi training for the Austrailian.

Kirko
02-20-2004, 05:00 AM
The practice wall it never loses . It sounds like you have a decent backhand ; if you can stand the boredom of hitting the wall it will really pay off . Did for me.

Eric Matuszewski
02-20-2004, 05:06 AM
I just reallized you are a one hander, like I said see an ACE certified personal trainer and beef up your legs. More muscular mass will keep you fast latter in the match. The website is www.acefitness.org (the other url is wrong) my old zip code is 21090 if you'd like to look me up (I moved to another state)

For more training inspiration watch Rocky, Kickboxer or Pumping Iron.

Phil
02-20-2004, 06:28 AM
Eric - I don't think the solution to preparing earlier on the backhand is to hire a personal trainer and do weight training.

Lifting is a solution to an entirely different problem. The only way to improve on preparation is to rally, constantly, against a wall or a partner. Uttering the "bounce-turn" mantra as the ball hits your side of the court is also helpful. The 1/H backhand, of all shots, requires even MORE concentration-you have to focus on moving as the ball hits off your opponent's racquet. Get that shoulder turned. There's a checklist of probably 10 or 12 things that you have to do in order to hit an effective one-hander, and if you were to put them in order of importance, the shoulder turn (i.e. early preparation) is at the top of the list. You might be able to fudge on the other items on the list, but not the shoulder turn.

Eric Matuszewski
02-20-2004, 07:11 AM
Phil I don't think the problem here is not getting the arm prepared in time.

Sampras had this problem more in the late part of his career. His hand was back with time to spare. But loosing "half a step" on that push off made the difference of being able to get there early, low and go strong back cross court (ie. Federer today) and getting there late and having to "Fluff and Fold" the thing loopy and weak Pete had to finish his career this way (watch the tapes, when he had to take off explosively to the backhand he wasn't the same player as when he was in his early twentys).

This is a very common problem in high level tennis and it comes from not getting your whole body there early enough. There are plenty of good players that are never late when you hit the ball right to them but aren' strong enough to get there on time moving side to side.

Resistance training will get you to the ball faster, mostly by increasing the speed of your first step. Let us know what you think.

Bungalo Bill
02-20-2004, 05:06 PM
I agree with Phil, weight training can help but it is not the solution to this problem. The other thing I disagree with that Eric said is that the onehander requires better footwork then a twohander. It is well documented that this is not true.

The twohander requires better footwork because of the balance issues that are inherent in the stroke and that the feet need to be set in order to implement the stroke.

To improve your footwork you need to practice footwork patterns that will eliminate an extra step you maybe taking to get to the ball.

Practice hopping on your dominant leg and when a ball is hit to your backhand side the foot closest to the body should be moving toward the ball first. Some players begin by taking off with their dominant foot which produces a cross-over first step, this usually throws their footwork off. So do that while simulating your tennis strokes. Do it for both sides.

For footspeed. I would suggest getting a resistance trainer called SkyKing Calve Isolator for your calves. Work on the shin side and the calf muscles including the plantaris muscle in the knee joint which the SkyKing does.

Many coaches make the mistake by thinking the quads are the muscles that need the only attention to get quicker feet. They are not. the calves are king in this area and so are the anterior muscles of the lower leg.

Also, jump rope, hexigon drills, Sampras drill, court speed drills, high leg kicks etc. are excellent for building fast feet.

Also, recognition drills will help to. Getting your brain and feet to work together once you see it going to yoru backhand.

Bungalo Bill
02-20-2004, 05:08 PM
correction on my post above, it is the foot closest to the ball! not your body! lol

polakosaur
02-20-2004, 06:05 PM
i think everyone here is forgetting an important part, anticipation. I would diagnos you as you probably react slower to the ball, get on your toes and get off your concrete feet. just plain work on some agility drills, carioca's etc. and focus on anticiaption, anticipate where the ball is going if you get a second head start your already in better shape. sometimes problems aren't physical but mental. try both see how it works

Eric Matuszewski
02-20-2004, 08:37 PM
Dear Bill, yes the foot flexors (gastrocenemus, soleaus and plantaris) are important to tennis. This is why I included power cleans with my recommendation of excercises but you've got to be able to get and stay low to move laterally quickly and this takes quad power.

I also agree that it is "well documented" that a two hander requires better footwork than a one hander. However "well documented" this theory is..., it is wrong.

The one hander has to get his hips (where your center of gravity is) directly behind the path of the oncomming ball and take a step into it with extra time to compensate for the extra time a one handers arm lag will take.

How is this easier than getting to the inside of the ball and hitting it with an open stance without having to get there earlier to compensate for the arm lag?

Honestly allow yourself to consider these movements (draw a diagram of the court and the player running along the baseline from forehand to backhand)...and I know in your gut you will realize alot of people are operating from a misconception.

Polakosaur, you bring up the best point of the whole discussion here! Anticipation is the best time saver!
Mechanically, making sure you land with your body in a slight squat (center of gravity low) and stay that way with some bounce, will prepare you better to move to the next shot. Imagine a base stealler or a running back making cuts. You've got to get low to make fast lateral cuts, getting jerked around on the baseline is no different.

Bungalo Bill
02-21-2004, 12:42 AM
Eric,

The quads are an important muscle for tennis, there is no question about that from me. However, the feet are connected to the calves and the anteriro muscles of the LOWER leg. The question for better foot speed should focus more on the lower leg muscles then the upper leg muscles.

The equipment I recommended above is the only calve workout equipment that I know of that works the plantaris muscle along with the other calve muscles. The equipment simulates real movement and pushoff from the lower leg. A strong plantaris muscle is the least considered muscle and the least worked on becuase almost all of the traditional exercises do not work this muscle along with the major calve muscles. The plantaris muscle is one of the most important muscle in the knee to stablize the knee during lateral movments.

Speed training in the lower leg through resistance is in my opinion is more important or at the very least as important as upper leg workouts for the development light and fast feet along with on court drills.

On the twohanded backhand. Footwork is a more critical issue for a twohander then a onehander. The twohander also needs to get their hips in the ball as well. However, a twohander does not have the luxury of the non-dominant arm balancing the bodies efforts on the stroke which can compenstate for "lazy" feet. The twohander has no luxury like that, they have to get set and balanced to counter the rotational forces against the stroke.

I agree with you that today's onehander is more demanding then yesterday's onehander but I would not agree with you to compare it to a twohander, these are two different strokes each demanding certain aspects in order to perform it properly.

Eric Matuszewski
02-21-2004, 04:19 AM
Dear Bill, thank you for your thoughtfull response.
However, you have been misinformed on some muscular anatomy issues. Allow me to help.
Misinformation often happens when people try to sell you fitness equipment as salespeople generally have a secondary gain (making money off of you). This is why it's important to research the information you use to make decisions when it comes to your body in peer reviewed medical reference books. (Remember the "thigh master", or any of the thousands of similar "spot reducing tools" that have been marketed to the masses and swindled alot of people) Unless people research for themselves they are setting themselves up to be victims.
The following comes from Human Anatomy & Physiology Sixth Edition Edited by Elaine M. Marieb. ISBN 0-8053-5463-8 page 377. The plantaris is described as "Generally A SMALL FEEBLE MUSCLE , but varies in size and extent; MAY BE ABSENT " "origin - posterior femur above the lateral condyle. insertion-via long, thin tendon into calcaneus or calcaneal tendon.
Action of this muscle is - Assists in knee flexion and plantar flexion of foot.

The plantaris as well as all of the "calve muscles" lie on the posterior portion of the tibia NOT THE ANTERIOR as you stated. Sorry to nit pick but lets get the facts straight here.

As you can see from the description above, evolution has deemed the plantaris so unimportant that ON MANY PEOPLE THIS MUSCLE DOESN'T EVEN EXIST. This muscle is merely a synergist to the much more massive and powerfull gastrocnemius (prime mover of plantar flexion) and the biceps femoris (part of the hamstrings that flexes the leg).

As for the equipment you mention being the ONLY way to excersise the plantaris. ANY movement that causes plantar flexion (simply pointing the foot down) against resistance will work this muscle. You don't even need equipment to do this....

Simply do standing calve raises (see any weight training book for a demo). For more overload (faster hypertrophy...more dangerous) simply do one foot at a time or fill up a backpack full of heavy anatomy books and do it with the backpack on. :D

Can you please quote some type of authority that supports "the plantaris is one of the most important muscles in the knee to stabilize the knee during lateral movement"

As for the whole two-hand v. one hand thing. Why do you think two handed pros are overwhelmingly more successfull at winning points from the baseline than one hand pro's? Roger Federer is only ONE GUY and he is playing all court tennis (he is not a baseliner)! Watch the tapes, he gets jerked around on the baseline and frequently HAS TO slice to bail himself out. (slice prep takes less time this is why one handers instinctively do it when they are getting jerked around).

I won a regional college championship with a one hander that college coaches frequently told me was pro level. I modeled the Agassi two hander years latter and am much less rushed than I was with my one hander. I am no where near in as good a shape as when I played college and my timing is certainly not any better, but am less rushed. Explain how this is possible. The two hander takes less time!

Bungalo Bill
02-21-2004, 07:02 PM
I think you should get your facts straight Eric. No where in my posts did indicate that the plantaris muscle was in the anterior portion of the lower leg.
If you read the messages carefully you will notice I mentioned the plantaris muscle along with the calve muscles. Your "medical reference" findings are only that and your playing on words. The "may" could mean a lot of things. Does that mean 90% of the population? Does that mean 10% of the population. If so, which of your students do you exclude?

There is a couple of things of which you do not know about me. First, I was a pre-med student before becoming an EMT and resigning due to an injury. I also have extensive experience with the anatomy of the body especially when it concerns athletics. I also have extensive athletic and coaching experience in tennis, triathlons, beach two-man volleyball, and general athetic training. I am also a member of the USPTA. I have coached and trained tennis at Vic Bradens Tennis College and have also coahced and trained nationally ranked juniors in Southern California.

Also, as far as choosing equipment. Nobody "sells" me on anything. My research is very extensive and well founded. Actually, standing calve raises are the reason I have my students use this equipment.

There is nothing wrong with your opinion that your standing calve raises are doing the job for tennis. I have found differently and the SkyKing Calf Isolator isolates, stretches, and produces far better results for foot speed then the standard calve training method.

I dont need to go any further on the difference on footwork for the backhand strokes. Each requires good to excellent footwork. We will differ in the fact oin which has the more critical need for better footwork.

If your under the opinion that the onehanded backhand requires "better" footwork then the twohander, then your welcome to have that opinion. I am just glad you said it is "your opinion" and not the opinion of other coaches.

You said "Why do you think two handed pros are overwhelmingly more successfull at winning points from the baseline than one hand pro's? Roger Federer is only ONE GUY and he is playing all court tennis (he is not a baseliner)!"

You have got to be kidding me? And your a coach? Do you need a lesson on why the twohanded backhand is more successful in the back court? Do you actually think it is do to lack of "footwork" on the onehander?

Your past playing experience really means nothing to me, most of us "coaches" have university and pro experience. So who cares? What matters is what we provide the people on this board our free advice and is not a place to "drum" up business for ourselves. This is why I use a nickname as I do not beleive this is the forum to get lessons!

I have been on this board for a longtime offering free tennis advice. The posters on this board are in a way family. They are from all parts of the world. And in my opinion family deserves to have free advice and not promotions. This is not a self-promoting self-bragging tips board to help build your pocket book. This is a forum to share ideas and insights on how to play this game better.

By the way, that article you are looking for on the plantaris muscle? http://www.netside.net/~manomed/plantari.html

The answer to my question above on how many people "may" have a plantaris muscle is about 93%. So who would you exclude? :wink: [/i]

jun
02-21-2004, 07:26 PM
I have always been in slow side. So I wanted to imporve my quickness or speed as much as possible.

I was in and out with training (although I was playing) and other things happened, so it's hard to say "this is the cure".

I was doing a lot of squats, lunges, side lunges, leg curl. I figured, stronger they get, the quicker i will be able to change the directions. I also worked on outher thigh and groin muscles...

I think these exercises sort of helped to lose fat around the area, and made the muscle stronger. IMO, these helped to move around the court a little bit better. But I wouldn't say these will improve your footwork.

To improve footwork, there really is no other way than to get on the court and work on it. Footwork doesn't just involve "legs". It 'really' involves you recognizing the ball as early as possible.

You can do all the footwork exercises you want off the cout, which will help. If you recognize the ball late, then you are going to be late anyways.

Get on the court, ask the other people to feed forehand and backhand, not too fast. So you know how to correctly get to the ball, and recover. Correct way meaning as efficient as possible, and still remain your balance. Don't really pay attention about your swing. Just work on your legs/feet. Once you do that, you can start from backhand corner, and have him/her to feed to your forehand corner. That way you can work on explosive first step, and adjustment step to be balanced. Also have him/her different types of ball with varying depth, direction. You can learn how different types of ball travel, and how you should be moving to in reference to the ball.

Of course, you will have to do off court training, such as suiside, and running etc.

It sounds complicated, but it really is not. Off court training, you can do about 2~3 times a week, 20~30 min including running, suiside, sidesteps etc..On court training, even once or twice a week will help a lot.

jun
02-21-2004, 07:34 PM
I have had experience of getting a little quicker, so I think I can sort of speak from experience.

No doubt quads are important muscle. It strengthens the knee, and make your leg a bit more explosive. If I have to pick a few things that helped me to get "quciker" or whatever.

What B Bill said is absolute true. I would say, just for sheer quickness, calf muscle (going down towards ankle) is probably more important than quad. Polakosaur is right on the money (I also mentioned in my post).

Hewitt is so fast and quick. But take out his anticipation, he will be as slow as anyone. Notice this anticipation does just mean "prediction". It also means being familar with how different types of ball travels, recognizing them early, and move correspondingly.

My Ad
02-22-2004, 08:15 AM
Excellent point Jun. I concur BB is absolutely right on the money. The calves are important but for footspeed. But he also mentioned the front muscles of the lower leg as well. Build those up and you can pick up and blast off with your feet quickly. I also know of someone who uses the SkyKing and he swears by it.

Eric, you sound like you know things and you also sound like your a bit rapped up in yourself.

BB has been on this board for a long time and he has never solicited business from anyone. BB has given me solid advice over the past two years and my game has gotten a lot better. What BB offers is tennis insight that we would have to pay for - for free.

Mahboob (and some others) is the other tennis coach on this board that has helped me a lot and he has never solicited us, nor has used this board to get lessons.

Also, a note on medical references, Doctors, know matter who they are, dont know everything and a lot of information in the medical community conflicts with each other.

dozu
02-22-2004, 01:32 PM
corrected another problem with my 1hbh today.... it's CRITICAL not to let the ball (hence the contact point) pass the footline (the imaginary line between the 2 feet and the extrapolation of it. This line defines if at contact the body is leaning forward or falling backward.

I dont hit 2hbh but i suppose this is not as critical for 2hbh as even if the body is falling backward the non-dominant arm can still poke the ball back, but for 1hbh once the ball passes this line, the body just collapses.

I have seen articals talking about not letting the ball pass the shoulder. IMO this is very WRONG! as the shoulder position often are behind the footline and hence during contact the body weight can not be applied on the ball.

Paid specific attention during some serious hitting today. Results are good.

jings
02-22-2004, 08:30 PM
Thanks to all for your help. I do hit a 1 h b/h if anyone was in any doubt. All useful advice and I shall take it "to the barricades", or most likely practise wall for a while.

Fallout
03-14-2004, 07:23 PM
i sort of have the same problem. When i hit my 2h backhands, i try to keep my open stance to give me more swing room but as i hit, i see my right leg stepping to far inwards giving me less space to swing and making me have to do a more compact swing. U just sort have to practice this out i think. Ive been practicing a lot lately and i see myself being able to move my feet into better positioning recently.

Just a quick question ona backhand. My backhand is very poor. Out of 5, id have to give it a 2.5. My teacher told me that i had to control the racket with my right and actually use the power of my left to hit it. Is this true? I did find myself hitting pretty good shots with excellent control with sum top spin. I would presume this is the correct way?

10nisNe1?
03-20-2004, 07:06 AM
Sometimes your forehand becomes more powerful to the detriment of your backhand. As you hit more powerful forehands, you tend to grip the racquet naturally in a semi-western--especially if you have a big grip on your racquet. This makes the transition to your backhand grip more time-consuming and results in your body being out of position. This is especially true on return of serves againts a big server. The solution is to get a more manueverable racquet and a some what smaller grip size. Nevertheless, you still can develop an effective slice backhand, ala Steffi.

10nisNe1?
03-20-2004, 07:12 AM
The above post refers to one-handed backhand players.


FALLOUT:

Your teacher is right. Just be sure to give enough side-distance between the ball and your body when your hitting your 2H backhand so that you'll make a more extended and smooth follow-through

Marius_Hancu
11-21-2004, 03:51 AM
when a ball is hit to your backhand side the foot closest to the body should be moving toward the ball first. Some players begin by taking off with their dominant foot which produces a cross-over first step, this usually throws their footwork off. So do that while simulating your tennis strokes. Do it for both sides.

This is good advice on footwork.

On calves vs quads exercises, both should be worked and stretched at the same time.

Marius_Hancu
11-21-2004, 04:00 AM
Polakosaur, you bring up the best point of the whole discussion here! Anticipation is the best time saver!
Mechanically, making sure you land with your body in a slight squat (center of gravity low) and stay that way with some bounce, will prepare you better to move to the next shot. Imagine a base stealler or a running back making cuts. You've got to get low to make fast lateral cuts, getting jerked around on the baseline is no different.

Well, yes, but one should bring this one step further. One should try to anticipate while still in the air from the split-step, in order to land already biased/slightly pivoted in the right direction, and with more weight on the knee on the side in which you need to move. With some bounce, yes, as you must be on your toes to be able to pivot and take off.

JohnThomas1
11-21-2004, 11:33 AM
Hey guys. I always thought it was documented that the one hander needed both better preparation and footwork than the two hander due to the two hander being easier to muscle thru the ball when caught late or out of position. This is most evident on service returns. In saying this however i am only thinking of topspin drives, Bill may be just talking about all one handed variations. In that case nothing is easier than slicing a one hander from any position imaginable whereas the two fister is impossible on the full stretch.

Marius_Hancu
11-22-2004, 01:32 AM
Yes, one needs good footwork on BH.
Check say
Backhand 4
clip
for Andrei Pavel at Stockholm indoors
at
http://www.speedsurf.to/tennisclips/

Thanks to "root" for posting the clips on another thread here.

Bungalo Bill
11-22-2004, 08:05 AM
Hey guys. I always thought it was documented that the one hander needed both better preparation and footwork than the two hander due to the two hander being easier to muscle thru the ball when caught late or out of position. This is most evident on service returns. In saying this however i am only thinking of topspin drives, Bill may be just talking about all one handed variations. In that case nothing is easier than slicing a one hander from any position imaginable whereas the two fister is impossible on the full stretch.

There are two areas of footwork concerns for both types of backhands. Hopefully I can ellaborate on the subtle differences and you guys can fill in the blanks.

BACKHANDS IN GENERAL

All backhands need goo footwork patterns and good footspeed. This is inherint to the game of tennis - especially nowadays. All backhands need good preparation. If your late with a twohander - muscling the ball does not solve the problem and you will still pile up the errors. Being late is being late! Yes, the twohander does have some forgiveness in this area but it is not something to take for granted.

Some of the key areas for all backhands are:

1. The strength and coordination of your weaker side.

2. Footwork to the ball

3. Footspeed to the ball

4. Setting up

5. Balance and maintaining balance

6. Weight transfer and rotation

I am not going to get into all of these as you probably know how important the coordination of these areas is extremely important for all shots.

ONEHANDED BACKHAND

The key area for the onehander is anticipation. Footwork and footspeed are not the main issue because all strokes need good footwork and footspeed. The onehanded backhander's achilles heal is not having enough time to prepare and transfer wieght into the ball. If you see the ball late or are busy watching your own shot, the best footwork and footspeed may not help you.

The onehanded backhand needs to get to the ball in time to hit the ball in front of the body (sooner then the twohander), transfer wieght into the ball by moving the center of gravity forward for force and alllowing the racquet path to stay on a course into the ball for clean contact.

TWOHANDED BACKHAND

Although anticipation is important in all shots, it is not critical for the twohander because they can use their wrists and extra arm strength in the shot to accelerate the racquet if they are a little late. It is not good to make being late a habit, however a twohander has a little more forgiveness with lazy anticipation habits then the onehander does.

The main reason twohanders need to get to the ball in time is because they need to be able to maintain their balance in the shot. It is more difficult for the body to stay in balance with rotational forces when the hands are close together vs. more spread out. This is the main problem for twohanders on wide balls. It is not so much reach because the twohander can whip the racquet forward with their wrists. It is balance and being allowed to get their rotation into the ball. The onehander is not dependent on rotation.

Also, without good balance on the twohanded backhand it is also harder to recover after you hit the ball on fast exchanges. The time your body is spending trying to regain its balance, is the time you could have taking two steps toward the position on the court you should recover to. It is a key reason why twohanders should have a slice backhand for wide balls.

So overall onehanders and the twohanders need good footwork and footspeed for their shots equally. There is overlap on these needs for common reasons. But each shot has their own unique issues as to why each shot needs goof footwork and footspeed.

Hope that makes sense.

The onehanded backhand is more of a linear shot and the twohanded backhand is more of a rotational shot. It is easier to lose your balance on a rotational shot with your hands close together then a linear shot with your hands/arms apread out.