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STROKES ARE BASED ON 'FEEL' NOT MECHANICS!
Remember the basic principles for learning tennis with my system is to develop a 'feel' for different strokes along with developing mental skills through REPETITION. Repetition of simple procedures create that 'feel' NOT an over emphasis on the technical skills and mechanics. Click here for an article that I wrote on 'feel' vs 'mechanics' in April 2001
Tom's Online Tennis Lesson
Tennis Warrior Takes On the Australian Open
The year's first grand slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins this month. Watch with a trained eye for many of the principles we have gone over in the past. The beginning of the year is a good time to get your mind straight on exactly how you are going to approach this year's tennis. Are you going to over-think and micro-manage your game, or stay out of your way and let the natural and instinctive take hold? Which will it be? Watch as the pros let their games go. Watch each pro jumping, diving, swinging and playing with controlled abandonment according to their own style and form.
You can do what the pros do, but you have to make the decision to let your game go. Do not let the rigid, conventional methods stop you from experiencing that same freedom of play that anyone can achieve. If the pros are not playing according to rigid conventional methods, then why should you? Below, I point out a few of these rigid techniques. Watch the pros. Are they executing these techniques? The Australian Open is the perfect time to reflect.
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 while balanced in one spot! Watch as the pros give themselves the freedom to fall off balance to gain their balance and are instantly 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, 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.
Watch as the pros do not take the racket back ahead of time when they are hitting their forehands and backhands. Actually they start moving their shoulders back sooner than the racket goes back. The racket does go partially back as they are on the run toward the ball, but when they get within the range of the ball 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 your own timing and not just throw the racket back the moment you see the ball come off of your opponent's racket.
And finally, watch as the pros do not always take a full swing over their shoulders on their ground strokes. Sometimes on the dead run or when they are in trouble the pros hit with a half stroke and hardly any follow-through. Don't believe me? Keep your eye on many of the replays and you will be surprised. You do not always have to follow through over your shoulder on your groundstrokes. If the situation calls for a partial stroke, go with it. How will you know? Your body will do it for you when the moment arrives! If you miss, do not think, "I should have followed through." The follow-through does not magically make a ball go in the court. You did what was right for the situation, exactly like a pro.
If you have taken a number of traditional lessons I know these examples are probably different from, 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, do not worry if your racket does not go back the instant the ball comes off of your opponent's racket and do not worry if you do not have the perfect follow-through every time. In fact, do not worry, just play! In this fashion you will play in a more automatic and instinctive mode, and come closest to emulating a pro. What a great way to begin a year. Happy New Year!
Your tennis pro,
Thank you for your very fine tennis tips on line. Your recent tips dealing with negative thinking and mistakes on court remind me of an old story:
A young journalist was sent to interview an enormously successful businessman who was also known to be reclusive and an extremely taciturn person. The newsman started out with tentative questions about his background, entry into the business world and his management style. He could hardly pry any information from him, getting mostly only terse "yes and no" answers from him.
Finally, he asked the businessman, "Tell me, sir. What is it that made you as successful as you have been?" The man answered, "Good decisions."
The newsman retorted, "Well, yes, I can see how good decisions would eventually make you successful, but what was it that helped you make all these good decisions?"
His abrupt answer was, "Bad decisions!"
ADDENDUM: I teach a total system of thinking in regard to stroke production and mental attitude which I cannot explain in one email. Although each lesson can stand alone you will derive tremendous physical and mental benefit by understanding the total philosophy. These emails, my web site, books, and tapes are part of a course in tennis, not just isolated tennis tips. They all fit together into a system. A system that once understood can help you not only learn tennis at a faster rate, and develop mental toughness, but also give you the knowledge necessary to help guide you and your children to a better understanding of the developmental process.
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