Itís All Feel
The ball stays on the racquet a few milliseconds if you hit flat, longer if you brush across.
To optimize your focus on feel it is better to maximize your sensations on a longer time span.
I recommend to focus on the feel of the hand at the ball contact and at the finish, when the racquet is already pointing behind you, getting the sensation of acceleration between one and the other.
This way you become aware of the connection between the feel of the ball, the finish, and the resulting placement of the ball.
Racquet head speed at the top level is greatest closer to the end than at the impact, which tells the intention of the player to go towards the strokeís end.
Tracking the ball as if going to catch with your hand, not your racquet, is another simple way to facilitate your strike.
Rather than preparing early, track the ball with the racquet on both hands as long as possible, then go back and forth with your dominant hand alone for your swing.
You donít need to swat at the ball.
Find it easily in front, while accelerating up and across. Youíll see it speed up with great control.
There is a good drill that works marvelously on shaping groundstrokes.
On the forehand finish, touch the left cheek with the back of your right hand.
On the two-handed backhand, touch your right cheek with the back of your left hand.
The butt of the racquet will be pointing towards where you aimed the shot.
Do it gently but consistently. It will improve your stroke.
The Outside Foot
On groundstrokes, landing on the outside foot has several virtues:
1) you stop your run,
2) you are more balanced than otherwise,
3) it helps you turn back and power your shot,
4) you recover and cover the court you left open much faster.
Learn to pivot on the ball of the outside foot and youíll handle the tennis ball in a better way.
Stay in the Present
When you are playing tennis, avoid thinking.
Itís almost as if immersed in a stupor.
In this regard, tennis is a very special sport.
It has its own modus operandi, its own Zone.
Once the ball is in play, you canít really plan for the future.
You have to adjust, to be capable of adjusting, minute to minute, millisecond to millisecond, to the path and changing velocity of the ball.
If you go into the future, you rush.
If you go to the past, you get distracted.
Watch the ball and stay in present time.
Do you want to play like the pros?
Donít take the racquet back as soon as possible.
Delay your backswing. Use your non-playing hand as a holder, as a restraint.
Look at the ball exceptionally well AFTER THE BOUNCE.
Track the ball with the hand, as if going to catch it.
Find it slowly and then accelerate up and across and end up with the hand over the shoulder, with the butt of the racquet pointing to the net (like Djokovic and Murray).
If you want natural footwork, do drills around a cone (turning from behind, as in a figure eight).
Itís easy to put together. Tennis can be a very natural sport.
A Gentle Touch
When warming up or having a light practice, it is best to touch the ball, rather than hitting it, but emphasizing lifting it two or three feet over the net.
Tennis is a vertical game, much more than horizontal.
Gravity is the main force you are fighting.
Further, the ball is only a bit over 2 ounces in weight, while your body and racquet combined are perhaps one thousand times heavier.
Warm up gently, immersed in feel and control rather than power, and youíll play later a very beautiful game.