The Falling Ball

You’ve heard to “play a rising ball,” or at least one at the top of its trajectory. It stresses your opponent accelerating the pace of play. 

One of the few plays that is an exception to this rule of thumb is fielding of the lob, which is a falling ball. Hit as a redirected motion and back into the lofty air, it is the easiest and most productive shot as players learning the the lob realize. 

It’s almost impossible to hit a high overhead backhand with any authority, let alone lob it into the opponent’s empty backhand court. Intermediate players develop the swat shot and do so with great success, but that is an advanced skill in tennis and even they cannot dependably lob from that position.

Recoiled knees, a rising racket up from the ankles, and follow through lofts the FALLING BALL as a lob.

Projection movement 

Footwork fundamentals make for winning… kinda obvious but always an effort even in recreational tennis. 

“..Get TO the ball and you can play the ball..” Do that and you begin to think about your opponent – their position – and direction of their movement and how to play the ball to your advantage.  

If you are struggling to get  your feet set to address the ball – and your thoughts are close in and on your side of the net…as far away from the opponent as possible with myopic tunnel vision … well you’re then losing.

That’s the biggest difference between winning and losing tennis, movement.

Serve Study

The serve is so critical in effective tennis it demands our continual attention. Easily over-complicated the stroke has so many coordinated elements yet must be repeated as naturally and consistent as throwing a ball. 

The serve should be practiced by even the most accomplished player. Discipline yourself to specially train the serve not merely warm up prior to matches. With your training partner practice locating and spinning serves while they practice their return play. Do so without playing out the point but serve 50-75 balls to each court in a slow steady rythmn. Your partner can tell you about the character of your ball while you practice. 
I’ve spent the past few months compiling training methods that have proven effective for serve development. These are a series of easy drills that help isolate elements of the serve. 

Muscle memory is the key. 

Spin Serve

Players succeed with an effective and dominating service game. 
Shot variety is critical in competitive tennis. Some example skill sets include; the flat serve, the slice serve, the kick serve, and the cut serve as well as the respective placement of those shots – master these and you win matches. 
The spin serves prove the most difficult for the learning player and requires much on-going training. 
Obviously the ball is struck with an angled racquet face but it gets so complicated to construct or describe. I’ve seen many attempts on video or in written form tell how to develop the spun serve yet all have fallen short. The instructors talk about the swing “feel” and cute training methods but it just doesn’t relate to most students. This is where most tennis development levels off – about 3.5 level.  
I’ll post some of the better links to what I consider constructive training methods this winter. Off season is the time to train an improving skill in your tennis game – especially the more challenging ones like a spin serve. 

P O W E R !

Learn control first with total command of ball placement and only then can you dominate with power. This philosophy is especially true in the service.

Here’s a tool to help you generate the necessary racket head speed to really whollop the ball: I call it the “Knuckle Hang.” Lower your semi-western grip on the racket such that your little finger is off the handle. It lengthens your racket by an inch or so plus adding to your”moment arm.” This grip also softens your hold allowing for snappier break at the top. 
I’ve seen this simple adjustment add such significant pace to players’ serves it changes their game profoundly. 

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