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July 1, 2000
Some principles to look for when watching a professional

Hi everyone and Happy Fourth of July!  Sorry this is a day late, I was out of town yesterday.  I hope you all are enjoying the weekend and are watching tennis at Wimbledon.  Watching it on television that is, unless some of you were fortunate to be at Wimbledon.  Many times when players watch a match they only see and remember the great shots that were made.   Below is a lesson on some of the key things to look for that can help your game. Watching the slow motion replay will give you an even better look at what I discuss below.  Watch professional matches with an informed eye and you will be able to pick out skills and techniques you can apply immediately to your game.

Sports science states that in reality we learn more from visualization and doing than from a bunch of verbal technical information.   This is probably why many players go out and play better after watching a days worth of professional matches.   You begin emulating some of what the pros are doing and do not even realize it.  Try to emulate some of the skills I explain below.  Your goal ALWAYS is to become more automatic and instinctive in your play.

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Welcome to the tennis lesson hotline, sponsored by Tom's Tennis Tapes, "educating players one mind at a time." I'm Tom Veneziano. This lesson last approximately 2 minutes and changes on the first of every month.

As you are watching the matches at Wimbledon or any professional match make sure you look for some of the things we have gone over in the past.  In fact, let’s go over a few principles for those that have missed them.

Notice the pros do not stand still and stay balanced when they hit every ball.  Tennis is a moving game, you must be balanced while you are moving. Staying still and balanced to hit each shot is like trying to ride a bicycle balanced in one spot!  Watch as the pros give themselves the freedom to fall off balance to gain their balance and instantly be ready for the next shot. Many times they even jump off the ground after a shot.  The pros do whatever it takes to regain their balance and stay ready for the next shot.  You should learn to do the same.  Do not worry if you fall off balance when you play.  With practice, just like learning to ride a bicycle, you will improve your balance.

Next, watch the pros as they do not move their body weight into the ball. That’s right, I said do not!  Again, moving your body weight into every ball is a myth and is not founded in true application knowledge.  Watch closely as the pros move their body weight sideways as they hit the ball, then backward as they hit the ball, and yes forward as they hit the ball.  Which direction the body weight moves depends on the shot they have at hand.  When you play, do not think you have to move your body weight forward on every shot.  Move your body weight in the direction necessary to make the shot at hand.

And finally, watch as the pros do not take the racket back ahead of time when they are hitting their forehands and backhands.   Actually they start their shoulders back sooner than the racket goes back.  The racket does go partially back as they are on the run to the ball, but when they get with in the range of the ball is when the racket starts going further back.   You will find that every player has a slightly different timing when taking the racket back.  You should learn to develop your own timing and not just throw the racket back the moment you see the ball come off your opponents racket.

If you have taken a number of traditional lessons I know these examples are probably different, if not the opposite of  what you have learned.   All I ask is that you watch the pros closely and you decide.  It is time to learn to play in a more automatic and instinctive mode and not over think the technical end of the game.  Why?  Because in the long run tennis is not based on mechanics.  The game of tennis is based on a feel of a given stroke and that feel allows the mechanics of each stroke to function properly.

The next time you play do not worry if you fall off balance after every shot, do not worry if you are not moving forward into every shot, and do not worry if your racket does not go back the instant the ball comes off your opponents racket.  In this fashion you will play in a more automatic and instinctive mode, and come closest to emulating a pro.

Your email tennis coach,

Tom

2000 Tom Veneziano, 10855 Meadowglen #1022, Houston, TX 77042

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