Originally Posted by Ash_Smith
Some interesting points Oscar, thanks for sharing your ideas.
Just on the points above, I have heard many times the phrase "tennis is a game of emergencies", but I have always thought that makes it sound like a passive game for the player it refers to - in other words you have to just deal with what the opponent sends you. Personally I prefer players to think about what they can create rather than what they cope with.
When you refer to "footwork" do you in fact mean "movement"? I feel there is a difference between the two. From what I have read of your work and the stuff I have done with Andy and John over here, I think you mean movement to the ball should come naturally. There are a couple of specific footwork patterns which can be anything but natural which are essential skills for high level tennis, which need to be taught in my opinion.
Would be interested to hear your thoughts.
You are right, Ash. A lowly player like myself (unlike the skilled players here) did not find it natural to put the outside foot out first, or to turn sideways on overheads and shuffle step backward, instead of just moving backwards. It is surprising that in the tennis hotbed where I live, most club players have not learnt it naturally either. Just the other day, there was a Tennis Channel clip which emphasized the coaching of getting the dominant foot forward for a close to the net forehand pick up shot, and how that made a huge difference in the strength of the shot. This was an advanced junior, and he still needed to be taught. I have also seen coaches drill juniors over and over again about the first big step followed by small adjustment steps.
Also, tennis being a game of emergencies seems to contradict the claim of there being too much time available on ground strokes as the ball slows down on approach. One thing you notice about high level players is how they anticipate and appear to be always there without going into emergency mode. You are right that treating tennis as a series of emergencies creates a passive and reactive outlook, and is unfortunately too common among club players.