Do you love playing tennis at night?
Do you love playing tennis at night? Do you find that the feel and smell of nighttime air on a tennis court causes an unspecific joy to well up inside? Imagine this – an energy-efficient tennis lighting system that offers more light and saves you money. No need to imagine. The Tennis Optics Advantage Series provides higher lighting levels with lower wattage bulbs, meaning you see the ball more clearly and you save.
Click here to learn more.
"What's New" Product Video
- from Tennis Warehouse - Liquidation Sale - Wilson KFACTOR racquets (Federer, Fish) and Nike shoes (Federer Nadal)
Playing in the wind
Whether a blustery day in early November, or any other time for that matter, wind presents a special challenge on the tennis court; however, it also presents a great opportunity. Interview 10 people and ask them, “How do you feel about playing in the wind?” My guess, the majority will answer with phrases including the words annoying, difficult, and or hate.
Truly, most of us play poorly in the wind. But the wind blows equally on both sides of the net, and if you are willing to face this issue, and deal with it on a long term basis, you will grow your game, and find a few more wins in the process.
So what are the problems that occur on a windy day?
First and foremost, the wind influences, if not interrupts, the flight of the ball. And somehow, the wind has an even greater influence on slow moving balls (it can be a real nightmare to play a pusher on a windy day). In this instance, we find it more difficult to judge the ball, and consequently much more work to position, and or, reposition for the hit.
The second issue regards reading and using the wind. When the wind blows across the court from sideline to sideline, certain shots must be avoided and others must be selected. And when the wind blows along the court from baseline to baseline, at one end of the court you must play aggressively into the wind and at the other end carefully, keeping the ball from flying long.
So how does learning to play in the wind grow one's game? If the ball plays tricks on you as it arrives, you must, repeat must, keep your feet moving, and you must, repeat must, reduce the size of your backswing. Small quick steps and compact strokes are the key. Unfortunately, the opposite more commonly occurs, where players are less prone to keep their feet moving and more prone to large backswings (read – “racquet back” as the presenting problem, rather than a better phrase, “turn to the side and take small and quick steps until after the ball bounces).
As regards a player who had impeccable footwork, small quick steps, and compact strokes, please recall Andre Agassi. In fact, growing up in blustery Las Vegas, Agassi always thought he had an edge when playing in the wind
(with one exception as you will see later in this article).
My first coach, Blackie Jones, demanded that we learn to play in the wind, and further, demanded that we learn to win in the wind (The great Pancho Segura taught the same lesson). Blackie’s coaching prompts were really quite simple:
1. Lower your toss
Move your feet, especially as the ball bounces and you need to reposition
Simplify your backswing, so as not to commit to a big swooping swing if the ball moves outside of your strike zone
Adjust your shot selection so the wind moves the ball into rather than out of court
Now to the Specifics
The Toss: Steffi Graf had quite a high one; the same can now be said about Safina and Sharapova. But when playing outdoors on blustery days, this can certainly be a problem. If you have played all your life (as had Steffi), you might actually be able to adjust and handle this problem. But as regards simplicity, lower tosses are better. And a close viewing of Federer or Sampras indicates a toss only slightly higher than contact.
Preparation: Turn early, but delay the onset of the backswing. As the ball floats over the net, veering right or left at unpredictable times, keep your feet moving while still in this turned position. Begin the backswing as the ball bounces, and be both willing and able to make adjustments in your footwork and in your swing (if needed).
Click photo: Players with high tosses, like Safina, often have trouble serving on windy days.
Tempo: All things being equal, less powerful swings work better than big roundhouse drives. Why? If the ball changes course at the last minute, or if you preparation is not absolutely perfect, it will be easier to redirect your stroke when playing at 60 – 75% of your normal swing tempo. Big hitters often self-destruct for just this reason.
With a Strong Wind at Your Back: This presents problems for big hitters, as the ball seems to ride long more often than not. The obvious solution would be to add topspin. But things are even worse when you move inside the baseline and play the ball from below the level of the net. In this instance, you must take some pace off the ball.
Some of you may remember the five set semifinal match between Federer and Agassi in the 2005 US Open, very windy, very close match. Federer captured the third set tiebreaker with a low, skidding backhand crosscourt to Agassi, playing with the wind at his back. Andre moved forward, got low, but knowing the ball would sail long if he over hit, and not normally playing with the massive topspin we see in today’s game, just clipped the tape with an error. Many feel that Federer, and Federer alone, has the knack for creating just these type of situations at the most critical junctures of a match.
When the Wind Blows Across the Court: Imagine you are on the baseline, looking at the net, and the wind is blowing quite strong from your right to your left. Forehands down the line make a lot of sense, but be extra careful when playing crosscourt. However, and here is the kicker; backhands down the line must be avoided at all costs, and if resorted to, must be hit quite strong to shoot through the wind. On the other hand, backhand crosscourts into the wind, will be the safest shot.
At the end of the day, playing in the wind is quite a bit like playing against a pusher. Be patient. Move your feet. Reduce errors. And realize you have a real opportunity if your opponent is unnerved by these same conditions.
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
Learning to "Give Up Control"
From the moment we pick up a racquet and hit our first ball, we strive to learn control. We learn grips, we develop concentration, and we learn stroking form. We learn how to prepare our racquet, how to properly set up our feet, and how to follow-through. We learn these things so that we can control the ball, and we are told that if we learn these things well enough, we will be able to make the ball do what we want. But this is only one side of the coin, since some parts of the game are simply “out of our control.” Doug King
20 Questions for Your Doubles Partner
Doubles is one of the most fun ways to play our sport. Unfortunately, too many teams struggle with getting along and communicating better with each other. Anyone who has ever gotten glared at by a partner after slamming an easy overhead into the net can attest to this. It is not always the case that you pick your own partner. In the case of USTA teams or school teams your partner if often chosen for you by the coach or the pro. So, here are 20 essential questions, courtesy of Luke Jensen and Jorge Capestany, you should ask your partner.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Maria Sharapova's Backhand
Maria Sharapova, at a mere 22 years of age, has already amassed a storied career. Over 12 million dollars in prize money, three grand slam titles, and a solid future as a world wide personality, yet she still appears to want more on the tennis court. Her record in 2009 is 31 wins and 9 losses, but this is a long way from the 2008 Australian Open where she captured the title without the loss of one single set. In the spring her shoulder flared up leading to surgery on the labrum. At the Tokyo tournament in September, she captured the title showing she still has game. Check out her strokes, in super slow motion, in the Tennis One ProStrokes gallery. New this issue, Sharapova's backhand.
The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
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