Originally Posted by Ash_Smith
^^^Oscar, Just in case you missed it amongst all the *****ing that has been filling up the thread, I have reposted my questions here...
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.
Ash, sorry for the delay. I consider footwork and foot movement synonymous. But I do know some patterns are very beneficial. And yes, they are essential at high level. I do coach them through drills, so the person can adjust them to be in tune with their own physique and very efficient as well.
Actually, it is the desire to be efficient that drives the player to look for simplicity and for the best way to use the forces in nature. For example, a child does not cross over the foot first to go to one side, or they would fall backwards, unless they lean into the new direction. What the child does is which is very efficient, they take the weight off the foot closest to the direction they want to move to, resulting in the center of gravity of the body "pulling" them in that direction. What many kids have but needs to be taught if not present, is an extra move to accelerate the start in that direction: sliding the leading foot outwards, together with some turn in the new direction, then the crossover as necessary. I state this simply for more clarity. No big words.
There are other situations, as in the volley, where this outside sliding foot aids net coverage. If you cross over as first reaction, you cover considerably less than if you slide the outside foot first, then step across or cross over. I usually teach the "footwork" or "movement" with drills, so I am guiding the player to select from his actions those which are more efficient and beneficial. It is a very interesting subject which I feel needs to be addressed intelligently, otherwise, if it is not aligned with nature, it makes the player slower (I have tested this extensively). Furthermore, if the player's mind gets clogged with thought about the feet, it traps attention units which should be used to focus on the ball, not the feet.
The point about emergencies. Preparing early can be misleading. Many players practice to react (prepare) fast all the time, even on a slower ball. If you react in this fashion to a slow ball, how would you react to a ball 4 or 5 times faster than the previous one? This does not promote coordination. The best technique is: slow for a slow ball, faster for a faster one, all coordinated. Since human beings tend to overreact, a player is better off with restraint than attempting to prepare as quickly as possible. The player learns a lot faster and is more efficient by waiting with the hands in front of the chest until the ball is near (tracking), finding the ball as if going to catch it, then taking a good swing, than by taking the racquet back early and swinging from all the way back.
Thank you for your questions and your patience.