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You Must Practice Precise Intricate Footwork

Myth - You must practice precise intricate footwork to move on the tennis court and play tennis well.

Truth - The footwork may be precise and it may be intricate, but you do not have to practice like footprints on the ground in a dance lesson. Put this foot here and that foot there, cross step there and cross step here, trip over your feet here and stumble over them there!

The core of the movement in tennis is running. Sometimes forward, sometimes backward, and sometimes sideways. It is not really complicated! You are on the baseline, you see the ball going to your right or left and you run. Yes, you have one foot or the other in front when you hit the ball, and sometimes you take short little adjustment steps to position yourself better, as well as straddle steps here and there. The truth is most of this comes naturally with improved timing and judgment of the ball. Really!!!

I have seen this over and over and over and over and over again. As players improve with repetition they automatically begin taking adjustment steps to be in a little better position to hit the ball. The reason why is simple to understand. Before they practiced they were not exactly sure of the bounce of the ball, so how are they going to take some subtle adjustment steps? Once they have some repetition under their belt the brain begins analyzing by itself and the adjustment process, as well as other subtle movement, becomes automatic.

I have given lessons to straight beginners and never mentioned footwork when learning a forehand or backhand. It is amazing to watch them eventually hit with a closed stance (body sideways) or open stance (body facing forward) and learn it automatically. Their footwork begins improving as their judgment of the ball improves. Some hit more with open stances, and others hit more with closed stances. They are beginning to develop there own style like the pros.

There is no cookie cutter mentality here. Each player should learn to move with footwork that is based on their own style.

The next time you are playing do not concentrate on your footwork at all.  Instead, just let your feet do what ever naturally occurs for the situation.  Do not worry if you should step with the left foot here or the right foot there.  Just play!  Move your feet in a way that feels comfortable and natural.  Do this for your next 5 to 6 matches and notice how your balance begins improving, notice how sometimes you will hit with an open stance (body facing the net) and sometimes with a closed stance (body sideways), and above all notice how you have become more automatic, instinctive, and relaxed.   

Guess what?  You are beginning to acquire a "feel" for the footwork.  Not to mention you will enjoy yourself more!

Now, go back and concentrate on the correct footwork again and notice how mechanical and restricted you feel.

The result of ignoring this myth! A more natural, relaxed, spontaneous, instinctive player that is about to be unleashed on the world. My advice to you is - you better begin now because someday you may have to play them!!!


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