Hit Tennis Winners with Control, Not Power
Hitting tennis winners with power and no control is meaningless. Do not incorrectly equate winners with power. This is a misconception that lures many players into control problems. Winners do not mean power!
Hitting a winner simply means hitting a shot that
is not returnable. You could be hitting a shot 10 miles an hour
or 100 miles an hour. If the ball is unreturnable, it's a winner.
Power does not have to be part of a winner.
Why is this important to understand? Because most
players overplay their winners. Overplaying is one of the main reasons
players lose control of their put-aways. For some reason, when they
finally have the right opportunity to win the point, they abandon
control and go with power. Let me repeat that: They abandon control
and go with power.
Overemphasizing power makes them tighten up their
muscles, lose their visual focus, and yes, sometimes even hold their
breath. Somehow, by holding their breath, they think they're going
to gain control of the situation. They don't; instead they turn
blue and the ball usually goes anywhere but where they're aiming.
By the way, power is achieved by timing and rhythm, not by tightening
up your muscles and trying to knock the cover off the ball.
All players have been guilty of overplaying their
winners. I believe the main reason this occurs is because they are
confusing winners with power. When I tell one of my students that
he or she should have hit a winner on the last shot, the next time
they invariably focus on power and overplay that same shot.
Now, don't misunderstand what I'm saying It's all
right to hit a winner with power, but you must maintain control
when you do. Power without control is meaningless. When most players
hit with power they inevitably go outside of their control range.
You must learn what your control range is with a given amount of
power. If you step outside this control range, life on the tennis
court becomes tough, not to mention frustrating.
Therefore, the solution to this problem is to practice
toning it down a notch. The next opportunity you have to hit a winner,
take your time and slow it down a little. Think about placing it
for a winner, not pulverizing it for a winner!
When you do this, you will find that two interesting
1. You will be more relaxed.
2. You will wind up hitting the ball hard anyway.
A perfect combination.
You will be relaxed but still alert. And the power
you achieve will come correctly from timing and rhythm.
In this situation, just like many other situations
in life, less is more. The next time you're playing, give it a try.
It may take you a while to acquire a feel for this technique, but
you'll be one up on your competition.
Remember, they'll still be thinking that winners mean
power and will overplay many of their shots.
If you would like to increase your power and still
stay in your control range, here is a principle that can help: practice!
In your practice sessions, try hitting high ball after high ball
for a winner with minimum power, then increase that power as you see
your control improve. If you find yourself tightening up again and
trying to muscle the ball, back off a little and practice relaxing
until you can hit with the amount of power that feels comfortable.
I am constantly telling players to relax on their winners and not
to overplay. It's just human nature to want to do more on your winners
when that magical moment occurs ... and you should! But that does
not mean you have to abandon control.
Article by Tom Veneziano as featured in the January/February 2003 issue of "Tennis Life Magazine." Look for more of Tom's articles in future magazines."