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-   -   How to improve footwork? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=485368)

dknotty 12-15-2013 09:35 AM

How to improve footwork?
 
What exercises do the learned here suggest in order to improve footwork and positioning?

Topspin Shot 12-15-2013 09:45 AM

A post of mine from a couple weeks ago:

Quote:

Here's a quick little one minute guide to some footwork techniques. It doesn't cover everything because A) I don't have time and B) I can't think of everything.

1. The split step. What you do every time the other guy hits the ball. You want to time your hop, which can be off both feet or one, so you are at the top of the hop when the other guy is at his contact point. By the time you land, you should know where you have to go. If you have to go to the right, land on your left leg and push off. If you have to go to the left, land on your right leg and push off.
2. The steps in between the split step and your setup for your shot are kind of intermediate steps. They should be fairly small, but don't overdo the smallness. Oftentimes, you'll want to take bigger steps if the ball is farther away. Line the ball up with your back leg.
3. When you are about to hit the ball, you have to get your back leg down first. The back leg is the important one, the leg you plant so you can get a strong foundation. If you have time, you can always step with your front leg just before or during your shot. This goes for volleys as well as groundstrokes. Reaction volleys are often hit from open stances, whereas volleys where you have more time often involve stepping with the front leg during the hit, not before the hit.
4. After you hit the ball, you have to recover. Pivot off your back leg, which should still be planted on the ground. If you leave the ground during your shot, make sure to get the back leg back down. Often, the back leg will the outside leg. Recover to the spot where your opponent's reply is most likely to come. A bit of a crossover step with your outside leg crossing over in front of your inside leg may be necessary. Simple court geometry. If you're at net, you want to be positioned more to cover the down the line pass, whereas if you're at the baseline, you want to be ready to cover the crosscourt shot more.
5. Once you've recovered, just hang out there with your weight on the balls of your feet until your opponent is about to strike the ball. At that point, it's time to hit the split step again.

Rinse and repeat. And when you serve, you've got to split step when your opponent returns the ball. When you return, you have to split step when your opponent serves the ball.

Ash_Smith 12-15-2013 09:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dknotty (Post 7952460)
What exercises do the learned here suggest in order to improve footwork and positioning?

go to jezgreen.com - watch video's - go practice :o)

dknotty 12-15-2013 09:58 AM

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?

Topspin Shot 12-15-2013 10:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dknotty (Post 7952504)
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?

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.

Ash_Smith 12-15-2013 10:06 AM

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.

dknotty 12-15-2013 10:13 AM

I was going to ask you about that - not sure I understand how you
Quote:

Line the ball up with your back leg.
Can you explain this please?

RajS 12-15-2013 04:34 PM

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.

Topspin Shot 12-15-2013 05:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dknotty (Post 7952538)
I was going to ask you about that - not sure I understand how you

Can you explain this please?

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.

Quote:

Originally Posted by RajS (Post 7953125)
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.

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!)

Avles 12-15-2013 06:01 PM

Does lining up the ball with the back foot work similarly for the 1hbh?

Topspin Shot 12-15-2013 06:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Avles (Post 7953226)
Does lining up the ball with the back foot work similarly for the 1hbh?

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.

ednegroni 12-15-2013 06:18 PM

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 :)

Avles 12-15-2013 06:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Topspin Shot (Post 7953243)
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.

Great, thanks, will try thinking of it that way.

SystemicAnomaly 12-15-2013 07:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dknotty (Post 7952504)
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?

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.


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.

RajS 12-15-2013 09:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Topspin Shot (Post 7953192)
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!)

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.

SystemicAnomaly 12-15-2013 09:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SystemicAnomaly (Post 7953312)
...
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)...

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.

dknotty 12-16-2013 01:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Topspin Shot (Post 7953192)
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.

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)

SystemicAnomaly 12-16-2013 02:58 AM

^ 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.

dknotty 12-16-2013 03:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SystemicAnomaly (Post 7953602)
^ 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.

OK I understand that now.

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

SystemicAnomaly 12-16-2013 03:25 AM

^ 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'.


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