How to improve footwork?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by dknotty, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    What exercises do the learned here suggest in order to improve footwork and positioning?
     
    #1
  2. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,024
    A post of mine from a couple weeks ago:

     
    #2
  3. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Messages:
    3,863
    Location:
    A green and pleasant land
    go to jezgreen.com - watch video's - go practice :eek:)
     
    #3
  4. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    Thanks for that. Will work on that.

    Any comments on how to prevent myself getting too close to the ball when moving in to hit it?
     
    #4
  5. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,024
    Get early preparation on your unit turn. In a proper unit turn, your left arm will be pointing to the right side fence. Use that left arm to establish space between yourself and the ball. Also, make sure like I said in my previous post to line the ball up off the back leg and get the back leg down before you initiate your swing.
     
    #5
  6. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Messages:
    3,863
    Location:
    A green and pleasant land
    Topspin's last Sentence is the most pertinent there - lining up the outside foot behind the ball is essential - regardless of the eventual stance you hit from.
     
    #6
  7. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    I was going to ask you about that - not sure I understand how you
    Can you explain this please?
     
    #7
  8. RajS

    RajS Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2013
    Messages:
    361
    Location:
    Campbell, CA
    Hi everyone. I have been reading this bulletin board for some time now and decided to join so I could get some advice. I have a USTA 3.5 rating playing only doubles for one season. My goal is to start playing singles also in the over 40's USTA league, and advance to the next level eventually.

    Well, here is the first of my many problems!

    I keep getting too close to the ball on the backhand side (two handed). I end up spraying my down the line backhands wide as a result. How does one set up consistently at the right distance from the ball? Are DTL shots handled differently from CC shots? Thanks in advance.
     
    #8
  9. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,024
    Sure, mate. In essence, this is the concept of rhythm steps. In other words, steps are taken in pairs, with the front leg leading the way, and the back leg sealing the deal. So, let's pretend the ball's coming to your forehand. You hit your split and land on your left leg. You push off that left leg and land on your right. So you've established a rhythm: left, right. You keep that rhythm all the way to the ball. Left, right, left right. The key is that your right leg is the stressed leg, like a stressed syllable. You line up the ball off that leg. Eventually, when you've gotten close enough, you plant the right leg firmly on the ground. This is your final step. You've hit your unit turn, and you take a cut at the ball, pivoting on your back leg. This, along with a strong unit turn, will help your spacing because you will keep the ball just to the outside of your right leg.

    Welcome to the forum! :) It can be harder to establish spacing for a backhand because you can't use your off hand for separation. First off, you can be a little closer on a two handed backhand. It's natural. But the best way to establish spacing is to get the rhythm I was mentioning my above reply to dknotty. Except here, the rhythm is right left, right left. You start with your right leg and finish with your left, the accent being on your left. You plant your left leg before impact and keep the ball to the outside of that left leg. If you like, just before you initiate your forward swing, you can step forward with your right leg to get into a neutral or closed stance.

    To hit DTL vs. CC, the difference is in where your strings are pointing. For DTL, you want your strings pointing down the line at contact. For CC, you want your strings pointing crosscourt at contact. And for DTL shots, don't aim for the line. Aim well inside the line and give yourself plenty of net clearance. Does this make sense? (I'm not normally this long-winded!)
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
    #9
  10. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,505
    Location:
    The Peak of Good Living
    Does lining up the ball with the back foot work similarly for the 1hbh?
     
    #10
  11. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,024
    Yes. One handers (and two handers) are best hit out of neutral or closed stances, but you still line the ball up and plant with your left foot. Only then do you step forward with your right and hit.
     
    #11
  12. ednegroni

    ednegroni Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2012
    Messages:
    159
    Jump rope, ladder, tires exercises. Any workout that helps you learn how to separate upper body movements from lower body movements.

    Fast feet, soft hands :)
     
    #12
  13. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,505
    Location:
    The Peak of Good Living
    Great, thanks, will try thinking of it that way.
     
    #13
  14. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    10,938
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Larger steps when you start toward the ball that is not close to your location. As you get closer to the intended intercept location, use smaller quick adjustment steps instead.

    For your FH, use your non-dominant arm to measure your spacing relative to the incoming ball. Watch elite ATP players. They have both hands on the racket for their unit turn. After that, the non-racket arm is extended towards the side (fence). This momentary arm extension helps to keep the body coiled and can also be used to judge the body's spacing relative to the incoming ball.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    With a 2-handed BH, you can set the racket out toward the side for a brief "measurement" as part of your unit turn and initial movement toward the incoming ball. As the ball gets nearer, pull the racket back and down (and then start your forward swing to meet the ball). Sorry, do not have any measurement "tricks" for the 1-handed BH.
     
    #14
  15. RajS

    RajS Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2013
    Messages:
    361
    Location:
    Campbell, CA
    Thank you, Topspin Shot. I am planning to work on this in my next practice session. Your point regarding DTL shots makes a lot of sense. I think one of my problems is that I am hoping for a winner, upon reflection! But I will keep your point in mind in my next match.
     
    #15
  16. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    10,938
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Disclaimer: Not really sure if any of top pros actually use this "measurement" technique for the BH. However, I have seen it employed with some collegiate players, high-level junior players and a few other 5.0+ players. Players like Murray, Safin, Nalbandian, Nadal or Djokovic will sometimes move thru the "measurement" position, but do not usually pause for a momentary evaluation/measurement.

    It is something that I teach to many of my novice & intermediate students. It can be an interim technique that might eventually be replaced with a more conventional BH preparation. OTOH, some adopt the technique and find that it works so well for them, they do not feel compelled to adopt a different style.

    In order to make the measurement work, a fairly early unit turn/preparation is suggested. The racket is pointed toward the side (fence) and paused momentarily while moving toward the interception of the ball. As the ball draweth nearer, the racket is pulled back and dropped just prior to the forward swing. This technique will work with a medium or compact loop, but not with a large/generous loop.
     
    #16
  17. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    Thanks for this, I think there's a lot of really good advice on this thread for me to really focus on.

    Still not 100% sure about exactly what lining up the back leg means - does it mean your back foot points to the ball at contact?

    That the back leg is parallel to the ball at contact point? (surely not)
     
    #17
  18. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    10,938
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ^ No, the back foot does not actually point to the ball at contact (but the front foot might). The back foot would often be pointing toward the side (fence) on many shots. The back foot would not be directly in line with the with the ball's path either. If you place it directly in line with the ball's path, you would end up being much too close to the ball. It would be set on a parallel line instead. Think of narrow railroad tracks. The ball's path would be one rail and your back foot would be set up on the other rail. Try to establish your spacing with the placement of this (back) foot. You can use the techniques I suggested in my posts above to help you set the proper spacing for the back foot.
     
    #18
  19. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    OK I understand that now.

    Does this advice work for straight arm forehand as well as the bent arm forehand? (I am the former).
     
    #19
  20. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    10,938
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ^ Sure, the advice would work, in general, for either dbl-bend or straight arm shots. Remember, however, the spacing would be a bit different for high contact points. You need a bit wider spacing for high ball -- your railroad track would be a bit wider. I tend to use straight arm for high shots -- I just give myself a bit more "room" for the high contact point. Same general techniques for establishing the rails tho'.
     
    #20
  21. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    Thanks SystemicAnomaly and others.

    I think there are some great points here on improving footwork - never really had any solid training or understood exactly how I was supposed to get into the perfect position so this is really helpful and I'll be working on it and will report back.
     
    #21
  22. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    19,761
    Location:
    On my iPhone
    I line my outside foot to the ball on my 2 hander as well. I then close my stance (if I have time) before hitting.

    Really helped me with my balance once I started doing that.
     
    #22
  23. RetroSpin

    RetroSpin Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Messages:
    1,856
    Pretty good stuff there. Thanks.
     
    #23
  24. RajS

    RajS Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2013
    Messages:
    361
    Location:
    Campbell, CA
    My spacing problem with my two hander seems to be doing much better, after I followed advice from Topspin Shot. Thanks again! I need to practice a lot more, however. I believe my stroke now resembles Power Player's description above. I have to take a step to close the stance a bit, since hitting from open stance feels a bit restrictive.
     
    #24
  25. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,024
    You're welcome. And you should step forward into a neutral stance for your backhand. The key is to do it after lining the ball up with your left side and getting your left foot firmly planted.
     
    #25

Share This Page