Short Power & Integrated Serve Course Now Open
Click here to see course details
Run Around your Shots for Better Footwork
David W. Smith, Senior Editor TennisOne
Any experienced player knows the importance of footwork. Studies show that the top players take around twelve steps between shots; a top college player takes about ten steps. Skilled recreational players take about eight steps, and the more average player takes between four and six steps.
While many players trying to play better tennis, those especially who have developed skilled strokes, often find the footwork issue hard to wrap their arms—er, feet—around.
There are many drills players can integrate to train better footwork. On TennisOne, we have dozens of these drills and exercises to work in a practice routine.
However, when you are in a match, it is hard to simply tell yourself to “move your feet” and have a response that isn’t either forced or simply doesn’t happen the way you want.
Is there a way to help players move better within matches so they are not consciously telling themselves to move or trying to force extra steps for the sake of taking extra steps?
Click photo: Kim Clijsters was one of the best movers on the tour check out how many steps she takes to get herself into position to hit this shot.
There is actually a simple way to integrate great footwork and develop such movement in competitive moments. It is called “running around your shots.”
Have you ever noticed how well players who have a weak side move? Why? It is because they avoid their weaker side like the plague. We often see players run around their backhand to hit forehands. (Occasionally we see the opposite, with players running around their forehand to hit a backhands, but this is less common.) This desire to hit a more favorable shot gives the player an unconscious desire to move the feet. It isn’t that they are moving their feet for the sake of movement, it is because they have a sincere purpose: they want to hit a different shot.
Next time you go out on the court, try this pattern: Run around a forehand to hit a backhand or run around your backhand to hit a forehand on as many shots as you can. (Some shots come too fast to create this intention.) However, there are ample opportunities including second serves in most cases and returns after your serve, etc.
It may be very helpful to work drills with a hitting partner or ball machine where you specifically move to run around forehands or backhands. Pros can help you in clinics or in private lessons where they feed you or your group in what we call “backing out drills.”
If your pro is not familiar with these drills, it is where the pro feeds balls to your backhand side across the court with the student starting on the forehand side of the court. Usually a pro can feed two to four balls towards the backhand side having the student run around each backhand to hit a forehand. The drill can be reversed to be feed towards the forehand side of the player having them run around and hit backhands.
A second drill would be to have a pro toss balls to each side of the student with high, soft-tossed balls, from about 8 feet away, and have the player alternate between running around and hitting a forehand on the backhand side and then move to hit a backhand on the forehand side. (The shot hit should be down the line to avoid hitting the tossing instructor!)
Click photo :Backing out drills are a great way to improve footwork naturally.
You may be surprised to find yourself moving very naturally when your intention is to run around one shot to hit another. Even if you are running around to hit a weaker shot, you will often find that you hit the shot better than normally because you moved better to set up for the particular shot.
Take it into a practice match also. Give it a try for a set or two and see if indeed you not only discover better footwork, but because your intent is defined quickly (by running around a shot, you are being proactive in hitting the shot YOU want to hit, as opposed to your opponent making you hit the shot they might want you to hit), you will hit with more authority, too.
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.
Comparing the Straight Arm and Double Bend Forehands
Much has been written about the double bend forehand over the last few years, however, a close inspection of the techniques of some of the top players on the ATP tour, including Federer and Nadal reveals they hit predominately straight arm forehands. Surprisingly though, Novak Djokovic uses the double bend technique. So, which one should you emulate? See what Christophe Delavaut has to say bout these two contrasting styles.
Go to your local court and watch players practice volleys. They stand at the net and their coach or practice partner feeds them chest high balls they can handle easily. Unfortunately, that's not exactly how the game is played. In real tennis, you are often stretched wide or pulled out of position and have to react quickly to the ball. Jorge Capestany has designed a drill you can do with a partner that will teach you how to do just that.
ProStrokes 2.0 — Juan Martin del Potro Forehand
2009 U.S. Open Champion, Juan Martin del Potro—or “Delpo” as he is often referred to—is one of the most powerful players on the ATP tour, with a serve that has been clocked at 147 mph and a forehand he can hit over 100 mph. He backs that up with a conventional and solidly consistent two-handed backhand and surprisingly good movement for a man with a 6-foot, 6-inch frame. Delpo missed most of the 2010 season due to a wrist injury and only recently has regained top form.
TennisOne Writers Store
One of your many new benefits as a TennisOne membership is your ability to purchase selected instructional DVDs at 20% off ($7.50 off each) in our new TennisOne Writers Store (login in first to access members links):
- "Building Your Serve from the Ground Up," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Building Your Ground Game," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Building a Kick Serve," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Underspin Backhand - Weapon," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Achieving Peak Performance the Wholistic Way: The Mental Game," Happy Bhalla Members – Public
- "Building a World Class Serve," Phil Dent Members – Public
- "Building a World-class Volley," Dave Smith Members – Public
- "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin," Doug King Members Public
- "Best of Ken DeHart," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Corrective Techniques & Myths," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Defeating the Monsters in Your Mind," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Skills, Drills, and Games for Beginning Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- "Drills for Intermediate Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Drills for Advanced Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- Click here to see all the benefits of a TennisOne Membership.
- Click here to sign up for a risk-free, TennisOne 30 day free trial membership.
Copyright Notice: The contents of the TennisONE web site and contents forwarded to you by TennisONE are intended for your personal, noncommercial use. Republishing of TennisONE content in any way, including framing or posting of these materials on other Web sites, is strictly prohibited. See our full copyright statement
If you wish to be removed from our newsletter list, please send an email to email@example.com and leave the subject line blank. A confirmation email will be sent to you, and you will be removed from our newsletter list once you reply to that confirmation. If trouble unsubscribing, simply email us with a request to unsubscribe at: firstname.lastname@example.org