BB - Balance questions

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by KingBugsy, Aug 12, 2004.

  1. KingBugsy

    KingBugsy Rookie

    Apr 19, 2004
    I have been working recently on maintaining balance on my forhand stroke. I noticed and felt, that many times I was hitting off my backfoot and falling backwards. (If you watch the pros you sometimes see them do this as well... I assume out of the given situation)

    Do you have any specific drill or ideas on how to improve the balance on groundstrokes? (forehand specifically)

    In a related topic... I have had problems with the ball sometimes being too close to my body on the forehand side. Thus forcing a cramped swing. This will also affect balance as you need to adjust at the last second, and take an awkward swing knocking you off balance.

    Any ideas appreciated!
  2. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004

    First off vision and focus are key elements in helping your feet make the adjustments it needs to get in proper position with the ball. If your brain is receiving information while in peripheral vision as the ball is coming towards you, you will at times not judge the ball right and be in an awkward position to hit the ball. You know the feeling, lunging, falling backward, etc.

    Putting your weight OVER your back foot is different then sending your weight backwards. In basketball you can do those "fallaway" jump shots but in tennis it is difficult to do that with consistancy.

    The first issue is using and staying in focal vision vs. peripheral vision. Telling yourself HIT BOUNCE HIT will help your brain gain a rythym and make it easier for you to concentrate. Obviously, peripheral vision is used in tennis for certain things, but it is a poor vision state to be in when reading the incoming ball and executing a stroke properly.

    The other thing is to exaggerate your concentration on the bounce. Really watch it bounce in practice while you're saying HIT BOUNCE HIT. This will help you focus at the most important time. It will enable you to hit more balls in your strike zone.

    When someone is too close to the ball, usually it is because they anticipate and move towards the ball too late. Then they realize the ball is moving further away from them then they thought or is coming faster then they thought and they sprint to the ball. Many times this causes a player to overrun the ball or get too close to it. HIT BOUNCE HIT will help you anticipate properly, judge the speed of the ball sooner, and allow you to get set to be able to hit the ball in your strike zone.


    In order for you to learn how to be balanced you must practice it. You need to hit balls and freeze as most or all your wieght should be OVER your front foot. Not further in front as that will cause you to tilt. Your weight should be CENTERED over your front foot. The same thing for your backfoot, the weight should be CENTERED over it ready and able to shift the weight forward and into the ball.

    So when you practice, hold your racquet extended to the target after you hit the ball with your wieght centered and over your front foot for 10 seconds then hit another. When you have stopped wobbling around, decrease the time and get a rythym or feel of your weight centered and then recover.

    Next, do it while moving to a ball. Move to the all, hit the ball, then freeze, if your momentum was moving too much sideways, and you hit the ball forward, you will lose your balance. Be sure to read the ball quickly, get centered over your backfoot, then go forward into the ball and get centered again over your front foot. Once you do that recover and repeat as many times as necessary.

    That should work!
  3. KingBugsy

    KingBugsy Rookie

    Apr 19, 2004
    BB, thanks for the tips! I tried the techniques you described at practice and I am already seeing an improvement. Freezing and staying balanced after the ball strike was tough at first, but was much better even after 15 minutes. As well, HIT BOUNCE HIT, forces you to watch the ball in Focal vision. That helps as well.

    I do think that after years of playing baseball my brain was/is very focused on running directly into the path of the ball! So for the last two years I have been attempting to re-train my brain to not run into the ball...
  4. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

    Jul 13, 2004
    BB: How are you tieing together for your students the "hit-bounce-hit" routine with the step-out method. I am assuming that in the "balance" section of your reply that the initial shift of weight to the back foot (foot closet to the ball) and that the momentum of this shift carries forward to the front foot on the step out. I think it would be benificial to many to understand when the "hit" occurs during this shifting of the weight and the position of the back foot at that time - I know for example that when I get tired or lose concentration (older you get the more frequent it happens), I have a tendency to shift a fraction of a second to early thus my back foot is actually off the ground when I make contact.

    A second part of the question would be the relationship of the racquet, hips, shoulders and hands during this process. I realize there are many factors involved but I think a lot of people get these relationships screwed up or try to do them separately.
  5. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    Well timing the last HIT for your timing involves your preferred contact point. By saying BOUNCE before hand, it helps you maintain both eyes on the ball. When you begin saying the last HIT you can use it through your forward swing as you make contact. So when you begin transferring weight to the front foot you can say HIT longer, such as HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT. By the time you say the last part of the word, you should have made contact with the ball in your strike zone and in front of your body. You really can use the last HIT as a preference item, in other words, when you like to say it.

    When you say the whole sequence HIT BOUNCE HIT, it really does improve your ability to pick up the ball speed and get ready to hit the ball. It is a training aid for the brain to stay in focus to the task at hand.

    By saying these words, it has a funny way of clearing things out of the mind. Somedays, I find it difficult to continue saying HIT BOUNCE HIT in my strokes through a match. I find myself constantly reminding myself to stay focused and struggle to say HIT BOUNCE HIT consistantly in the match. My mind wanders like everyone elses. Other days, it seems like it is simple to stay focused and say HIT BOUNCE HIT.

    I really dont have a clear answer for you as it takes practice and you finding the contact and motion of the stroke you like to say it in. Sometimes I have a very short HIT if the ball is coming fast. Other times, I lengthen the word HIT if the ball is coming slower. My mind already knows the contact point, I am saying HIT mainly to:

    1. Keep my head still

    2. Keep BOTH eyes on the ball and contact zone

    3. Reduce distractions that could cause my mind to wonder off the task at hand

    4. Stay focused on the task at hand

    5. Ensure my body is moving properly for the shot of choice.

    6. That I recover immediately while I am shifting back into peripheral vision to survey my opponent and the court.

    7. To develop a breathing rythym and stroke rythym

    8. To psych myself up, get determined, get pumped up, help my senses get keener to the match, get motivated. As I get older, sometimes it gets tough to roll out of bed for another match! Thank God for ibuprohen!
  6. drummerboy

    drummerboy Rookie

    Apr 10, 2004
    Bill can you describe HIT BOUNCE HIT in a few words. When do you say first hit? When the opponent strikes the ball?
  7. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    1. HIT: when opponent hits the ball

    2. BOUNCE: When the ball bounces on your side

    3. HIT: When you make contact
  8. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

    Jul 23, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    Rising from the dead...

    Resurrecting this ancient thread... :oops:

    I find it helps when I continue with this timing/rhythm exercise as it bounces on my opponent's side, too.

    Instead of saying a word, I make a slight utterance... like a light grunt... or say 'dah' 'dah' as the ball bounces and/or is hit by either my opponent or me.

    I'll try the actual hit-bounce-hit words... instead of the barely audible grunts.

    So, it will be hit (opponent), bounce (me), hit (me), bounce (opponent), hit (opponent), bounce (me)... no break... just keep going.
  9. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

    Apr 14, 2007
    Ojai, CA
    Hi Bungalow Bill! I emailed you privately a week ago hoping to get feedback on the Real History of USA Tennis Instruction. It's part of a future book and is causing quite the ruckus, especially the article about Spartak Tennis Academy with one indoor court producing more top twenty players than the entire USA when their top juniors don't even play half the tennis ours do.

    Appreciate all the hard work you do to help people here. I wrote a few threads to instigate things given I'm looking for feedback before I publish my book next year on the Real History of USA Tennis Instruction. When I did the history, I was careful to use quotes and thought of you in particular when I searched high and wide for press reports about Bjorn Borg's second comeback and what the press reported rather than let someone tell a story that can't be verified. I was very careful to check my facts. It will give you a very interesting picture.

    Curious to see what you thought in particular about the Best of Tennis Magazine Instruction analysis of the 1975 entry. I even transcribed Nick Bollettieri teaching in 1989 from a videotape. But the Spartak Article is what I am curious to see what you think of. It exposes a lot of the so called "excuses" the USA makes here as to how our kids aren't as dedicated as the Russians or Serbians or French (the French? really..........) or the Croatians, or the Spanish, or the Argentineans, or the....I think you get the picture. The truth is Russia spends 300 to 400 thousand on junior development and play very little tennis compared to our young juniors and it costs more for less than ten players to go to a top academy in the USA than Russia spends yearly on their entire developmental program.

    And yet this little tennis academy producing more top twenty players in the world than the entire USA the last seven years all teach every player one technique and all the Russian coaches are trained to teach one technique? Whose technique, I wonder? Look at the pics how they start their tiny tots and compare them to the 2009 USTA Quickstart manual.

    The Spartak Article in the NY Times is also in the same library.

    Hope things are going well, Bill. I use your tenniswarehouse explanation of the Wardlaw Directionals for our coaches training because it's right on. I meant to ask your permission since I copied it from here. YOu are very knowledgeable about tennis in a very accessible way. Keep up the good work and thanks for checking your facts and realizing sometimes the USTA, USPTA, and the PTR as well as the big names in tennis coaching often practice revisionist history. I've learned to not believe half of the the big names claims as I did my research and compared it to what they were saying in Add and Tennis magazines. You are one who does not exaggerate unlike so many. I commend you for that.
  10. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    I usually dont say the bounce on their side of the court. I simply begin the HIT BOUNCE HIT when they hit the ball, it bounces on my side of the court, and I hit the ball. I just keep it simple because you need to also keep other things in mind like your opponents ability to recover on certain balls, how they move to the left or right and back for recovery.

    You need to unlock the keys to your opponents game as you use yoru strategy. Once you think you got the keys, you can alter your strategy or if it is right on, carry it out.

    For return of serve I do the same thing "HIT-BOUNCE-HIT". It is especially useful on those days I am playing with a hangover. :)

    All in all, the use of a cadence helps a player get their minds in the game and feel the rhythm of the point.

    It is up to you on how you use it.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2009
  11. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    Hey teachetennis,

    I dont mind people requoting my "paraphrases" and insight on things. I would like some sort of credit. Obviously, since I work for free here, I am not looking for compensation. Just recognition and respect for the work I have done painstakenly trying to make thing simpler to understand and getting rid of the BS that normally accompanies tennis teaching and instruction.

    Right now, I am in the middle of a huge audit and that is why I poke my head in for awhile and then dissappear. I am the lead for the audit as well so it is sort of kicking my butt.

    Anyway, glad you are looking into the history of tennis. I am not an expert at the history but know enough to say "BS" when someone says they "invented" this or that.

    I think you are referring to Oscar Wagner? Just so you know (I have repeated this over and over again), I think Oscar has a good method to learn how to play tennis. What I didn't care for was his position as an "us vs. them" with the USPTA. We are all in this together and the truth is many many coaches teach a mixed bag of teaching methods that work for themselves.

    I can honestly say, I don't pay much attention to USPTA instruction manuals nor do I follow them. When I played tennis, I had a lot of talent in athletics. I performed well in all sports (tennis, volleyball, skiing, surfing, baseball, football, basketball, etc...) so, I have taken the best training from all sports that I could generalize over the sports I taught (baseball, tennis, and volleyball) and simply applied them in a common sense way.

    For instance, footwork and training. My views and style largely comes from football and basketball. In both of those sports, we worked hard in these areas to improve our performance. I carry that attitude over to tennis.

    When I teach I incorporate the entire body in the stroke. I tinker with certain things to get the brain to learn what it needs to do. I perform both methods at certain times and situations. One is a more moving rythmic stroke (like Wagner teaches) and the other is a more isolated work on one area in a more static fashion at certain times and for certain reason.

    The bottom-line is I am a hodge-podge of many different teaching methods. I can teach a forehand and have a pretty good looking stroke in about 1/2 an hour. Same with the backhand. The difference between me and other coaches is I incorporate movement and rhythm nearly right away unless something weird is happening.

    I will take a look at what you wrote in a bit.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2009
  12. Buddy

    Buddy New User

    Dec 1, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Hit Bounce Hit

    Resurrecting an old thread on the forehand and timing.

    BB or others: I like H-B-H for forehands but am wondering if there is anything similar for volleys in Dubs. There is no B in this case.
  13. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

    Oct 20, 2006
    I'd say go ahead and start your own thread so that your title, etc. will attract more of the input you're looking for. I happened to stumble across your post because I wanted to see what sort of follow-up was tacked on at the end of such an old thread.

    If I think of any input, I'll also throw it your way, but I don't know of anything similar to the "hit-bounce-hit" idea that's useful for timing a ground stroke. Since a volley is so much more of a quick reaction and compact motion used to the ball, much of the success comes with preparing to volley before your opponent even hits the ball.
  14. eaglesburg

    eaglesburg Hall of Fame

    Oct 11, 2014

    How should you do the balance thing if you are hitting from a fully open stance and/or jumping?
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  15. Mac33

    Mac33 Semi-Pro

    Mar 1, 2014
    Try wearing a pair of shoes that contour significantly outwards.

    Also, if the sole is extra wide too.

    Both from my experience make a big difference to balance.

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