View Full Version : Hard time rallying with my friend. Footwork problems?

09-04-2006, 07:45 PM
So I'm a relatively new player and I have a question...

I'm not into the whole ranking thing yet, but I can hit the ball pretty well considering I've only been playing about 2 times a week for the past 6 months. I can hit back 50+ shots in a row against the wall or ball machine without missing, forehand and backhand, etc. etc.

The problem starts when I try to rally with a few of my friends who are about equal in skill (or lack thereof!) as me. We just can't seem to rally as long as I would expect, even if we are both just trying to keep the ball in play.

Bottom line is that after a few shots back and forth one of us is usually out of position and misses a relatively easy shot. I think it boils down to the fact that neither of us is good enough to hit the ball back consistent enough for the other person. When I watch good players rally they hit with pretty consistent pace and depth. We can't really do that yet. As soon as one of us returns a ball with anything other than ideal "rally" pace or depth, the other guy has to start moving a lot, hitting on the run, etc. and it usually goes downhill from there.

On the other hand like I said I can hit back 50+ shots in a row off a ball machine pretty consistently. Same thing if I hit with a really good player or teaching pro. If I don't have to hit on the run and constantly move forward and backwards I can hit it back consistently.

Is this strictly a footwork issue on both sides? I assume this has got to be normal when 2 newbies are trying to rally right? Is it doing more harm than good hitting with someone like this? Should I focus 100% on taking lessons, rallying with better players and working on my footwork?

09-04-2006, 09:52 PM
generally the one thing stopping newer players from sustaining a rally is positioning/footwork, hitting a shot while moving backwards never turns out well, or trying to short-hop a ball when they never practice that also tends to be problematic. with footwork comes early preparation of the racquet with the asfdlafsjhdfa (and so on).

its somewhat advisable to attempt to have forward momentum as you hit, and not to lean over too much at your waist. I don't know how much you may be leaning/lunging for shots that are not right at you so it may or may not apply, but i've found more consistency when i get to short balls with my legs instead of my back.

09-05-2006, 12:37 AM
Short of moving my feet faster, how do you improve your footwork? I've learned about the split step - are there other "hard and fast" rules like that? Anyone know of any good articles, books, etc. that teach the basics of footwork? It seems that moving around the court should just come naturally, but there must be more to it than that. I've read all the tips about jumping rope and doing footwork drills to help increase your foot speed, etc. I guess what I'm looking for now are "rules" about how to move your feet in certain situations. Or am I trying to make this harder than it is?

09-05-2006, 02:15 AM
check this out: http://tennisone.com/newsletter/template/6.8.05.newsletter.html

09-05-2006, 05:53 AM
In a match, the whole idea is to frustrate your oponet and make them miss the ball.

Beginning/practicing players need to concentrate on doing the opposite.

Rather than just rally randomly, get on the same wavelength with your partner and practice specific shots-- both crosscourt and down-the-line.

Refrain from indulging in the pleasure of hitting out at the ball. Hit at medium pace. Go for placement.

09-05-2006, 08:12 AM
usually when i rally with friends we attempt to make each other run as much as possible to work on different shots. Usually out rallies would last for 20 shots before we begin to mess up.:confused:

09-05-2006, 08:33 AM
Footwork is important as is learning to hit from different places on the court as well as learning to hit the ball from different heights (low balls, high balls, etc). 50 balls in a row is great against a ball machine, but in real tennis, the ball is never quite so consistent so it takes time to learn how to hit all the shots from anywhere on the court, to learn how to be match tough. Good luck and have fun and don't worry about not sustaining long rallies when hitting with real partners but keep enjoying the challenge of it.

09-05-2006, 10:45 AM
I think you just need more practice. I am sure your footwork isn't perfect but thats not the whole story. MOST players play "better" against a good player. A "bad" player sprays the ball around everywhere hitting long shots, short balls, high balls, low balls - but a pro or machine can adjust to your garbage and hit the ball back to one precise spot and make you feel and look good.


09-05-2006, 11:27 PM
Split-stepping and landing on the opposite one leg gets you moving the direction you want quickly and efficiently. This made a big different for me as I really tried to do this every single time my opponent hit the ball. Aside from split stepping are there other specific tactics like that, or "rules" on how to move about the court? Is there a book or anything someone can recommend to learn footwork basics? I've watched a few instructional videos but all the ones I've seen focus on hitting the ball, not moving around the court.

Or is this all overkill? Is 98% of the battle simply a matter of being 110% focused when your opponent is about to hit the ball, do your split step and move to the ball?

09-06-2006, 05:50 AM
It's about experience and knowing where the ball will end up based on spin and speed of your opponent's shot and then moving to that spot where you will be in your ideal hitting zone. It takes alot of practice to learn where you need to be and helps to play many different opponents who hit with different spins and pace. Smaller adjustment steps are very good too as you near the ball.

09-06-2006, 09:19 PM
I'm sure you're right kevhen. My hitting partners all still hit the ball pretty flat, so I don't have to worry too much about spin. But I do try to pay attention to the height and obviously pace of the ball as it's coming towards and over the net in an attempt to track the ball as best as I can. Is it all experience and just a matter of seeing 10,000 balls as you naturally learn how to be where you need to be, or are there things I can do/practice to speed up this process?

Hot Sauce
09-06-2006, 10:10 PM
I had a similar problem, but I soon realised it was my rallying partner. He was weak sauce.

09-07-2006, 06:16 AM
It is experience but also you need that motivation or hustle to get to the ball quickly and it helps to have a lower center of balance having your knees slightly bent and in a ready position when your opponent strikes the ball. Experience though will help you learn to anticipate where exactly you need to go.