#1: The most common mistake made is no coil. Not coiling your shoulder back, not lining up your hips with the doubles alley, not closing off your stance with an attacking plant foot, not facing the side fence with the plant foot, not taking your frame backwards with the non dominant arm or leaving the non dominant hand at the throat at take back. This results in a too open, powerless stance, which robs kinetic potential. If there is no voltage backwards in the preparation, there will be no force available in the impact of the ball with the string bed! This is all taken care of with a disciplined yet relaxed and powerful unit turn way ahead of time. The stance has to close off if possible for more power. The hips are parallel with the doubles alley or even more closed off. The plant foot is pointed towards the side fence. The shoulder has to coil backwards, and the frame has to reach way back around our bodies, yet remain fluid and relaxed. So we close off and reach way back. (Given time.) There is also the mental unit turn, and the mental coil. The will to strike a flat shot, or a superior rpm top spin shot, is a mental thing, and its coiled purpose is just as important as the physical coil. A flaccid passive mind will never produce a weaponized back hand. Do not mistake relaxation for passivity! There is a way to relax while ready to strike. The coil is a relaxed yet tense state, like a snake in a coil on the ground. We wait in our coil like the brown snake coiled up in the brown yellow grass, to strike out with full force once the target arrives in our contact point. #2: Lifting our hitting foot up at impact takes us off the ground and interrupts our weight transfer. We have to stay grounded to hit the most powerful back hands and derive our forceful acceleration from the ground in timed footwork. If you drive up off the plant foot too early, it straightens your front leg out, lifts your front shoulder up and your chin, sends the ball out long, and takes away your planted weight, and moves your head, shoulders, and frame upwards too early before the impact of the ball. All that is fine if the ball has already been struck and our weight transferred properly. Very bad if the impact has not yet occurred. It’s not impossible to hit great shots by lifting off too early, but it’s a lot harder. This results in a more difficult transition of force. Federer is often guilty of this mistake against Nadals high shots to his back hand. Djokovic hits flatter and lower shots so Federer has less trouble with him. There is also a lot of fluid in your head, and this has to be kept still as possible during the impact for accurate/powerful strikes. A simple thing to concentrate on is keeping your chin stable and even. When we are grounded, with our knees bent, weight down, shoulder and hips “dragging” the frame, our full pathway is open to nail the shot. This is taken care of by remembering to keep your weight down, knees bent, hitting foot heel down into the ground before impact with the ball. The hips open up first, the shoulder next, and the frame comes very last and very fast. #3: Fear of missing the shot results in no frame speed, no aggression, no voltage into the weight transfer. If you feel the foot steps fear makes behind you, it’s too late. Your shot will miss, or have nothing on it, or you will “lead arm” it, with hesitation, chopped up rhythm, and uncertain emotion and “jam” yourself. Fearless play is the only way to relax and achieve full acceleration into any tennis shot. Relax the upper body, and keep the lower body moving fast into the shot: hit/ then relax the shoulders, and arms, and hands, after impact and sprint to the next plant. It’s the “drunken monkey” or fearless snake, upper body, and samurai speed on the lower body. Fast feet always, and immediately relaxed/fluid upper torso will give your unit turn unrivaled speed when you open up on your guns. The proper unit turn is like a sneeze; it’s so powerful when opened up. #4. Abbreviating the follow through results in a chopped shot, which is sometimes what we need, ie, on a short ball, when the foot speed into the shot and the shorter court requires us to hit far shorter than we normally would. Usually, stopping the follow through will result in a less powerful, shorter shot, as you are chopping down the full kinetic potential with a short follow through! #5: Feeling the back hand as a non weapon results in a passive match play attitude. It also results in a passive practice routine, where we are simply keeping the ball in play in a “lull” mode, and our shots lay up for easy hitting. If you don’t attack the shot in practice, with a fully forceful accelerated strike, you will not be able to do it in a match, either. #6: Not defending our contact point, that is, not waiting for the ball to arrive at its optimum strike point. Sometimes we do this on low balls, and sometimes on high balls. No matter the height, the contact point follows an arc in front where your arm forms a “bar”, and the elbow is locked at impact. Our string bed has to be at the right angle as well, and the ball has to be on the right area of the bed. It’s all related to one thing: protecting the ball and its contact point. The best protector is the best attacker. #7: Trying to kill EVERY BALL. Even the best players have a “lull” mode, where they don’t do anything with it but keep it in play, and a medium mode, which is just designed to maneuver the opponent around and keep him running. Most shots are hit in competition in these modes and let their opponents take the risks and beat themselves. Only kill the easy ones, or the ones which will result in you losing the point anyway if you don’t put something on it. #8: Falling backwards off the ball resulting in your shoulder lifting and the ball going long. This is a common clay courters mistake which they train them to do on their forehands for more depth and spin, but they play much father back off the baseline than hard courters do. If you fall back off your one hander, it changes your whole attacking angle and makes it more passive. The true pathway for a nailed shot is to transfer your weight forward, not backwards! It causes too much “brush up” and will also land shots too short rather than add spin/rmp heaviness. #9: Not adjusting to depth or height or spin changes. Short low balls call for small quick steps, like the master of small steps: Jimmy Connors. They also call for bent knees and making sure you get under the ball with the bed. Deep, higher balls call for a higher start point with the non dominant hand and a higher coil pathway. The unit turn is often disregarded in both these situations. Line up your non dominant hand at the same height as the incoming shot. Defense of your contact point in front of your shoulder forms a arced “shield” shape in front of you. Place your arm out in front of you up at head height, and then drop it down. See how it forms an arc? That is your contact point, closer to you on both high balls and the low balls, and further out in front at waist heights. So on the higher balls and the lower balls, we wait for the ball to come to us a little longer to obtain the right “arm bar.” The whole point of the unit turn, the foot work, the coil, and arm bar, and hips opening up fast, is to wait for the ball to arrive at the right point. So it’s all really an exercise in “waiting” in a very fluid yet fast way. The faster you can arrive at this point, with big coil, the better shot you will be able to hit. That’s why the best players always seem to have so much time. They arrive very quickly and they wait for a longer time. When they are put under emergency situations, they are so used to uncoiling very fast that they handle it better. Everything starts with the right footwork, the unit turn, the mental unit turn.