New DVD - Doug King's "One-Handed Backhand"
TennisOne Senior Writer Doug King has just brought out a great new instructional DVD, "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin Backhand."
In this DVD, Doug King offers his unique perspective on how to turn your one-handed backhand into a real weapon in your game. This DVD will clear up many of the misconceptions about the one-handed backhand, allowing you to focus on building this stroke with efficiency, power, and control.
Doug King will take you through a step-by-step process where you learn the key positions in the one-handed backhand stroke model, with particular focus on keys to contact. This DVD, which runs over 1 hour, also provides in-depth slow-motion analysis, showing you the subtle nuances of preparation, take-back, dropping into the slot, contact, and follow-through. Finally, there are a number of extremely innovative drills for you to practice so you can internalize everything you've learned.
Publisher's Note: TennisOne has many great tennis contributors who will change the way you think about the game of tennis, including Doug King. If you haven't
viewed any of Doug's videos lately, you owe it to yourself to see sa preview of his article this week, "WARNING! Racquet Head Speed May be Dangerous to Your Game." See preview (6 minutes.)
20% Discount for TennisOne Members
- "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin Backhand," by Doug King Public Members
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Lessons You Can Learn From the French Open
The French Open was a feast for tennis players, coaches, and fans eager to devour food for thought. Vital lessons abounded about strokes, strategy, footwork, the mental game, and other crucial areas of tournament competition.
Let’s analyze why favorite Rafael Nadal and overlooked Francesca Schiavone won singles titles, why Samantha Stosur reached the final, and why others fell short.
Win the Big Points and Big Games
“The players, we have the statistics, and I am the No. 1 on break points saved for the year,” Rafael Nadal smartly pointed out after the French Open final. Indeed, Nadal was rightly proud that Robin Soderling converted none of eight break-point chances against his serve.
Nadal is the master at saving
Throughout the Paris fortnight, his tenacity and concentration paid off because seven opponents won only 11 of 43 break points for a meager 25.6 percent. Put succinctly, Nadal bends but he seldom breaks, viz., gets his serve broken. Conversely, the 24-year-old Spaniard matador killed the bull about twice as often, converting 38 of 75 break-point chances for an impressive 50.7 percent.
For what would be a highly revealing statistic, 1980s doubles star Pam Shriver creatively proposes that the ATP and WTA Tours start recording “the percentage that players convert when they serve for the match, like a closer in baseball.” Therefore, try your utmost to play your best when it matters most.
Devise An Intelligent Game Plan
Praising Francesca Schiavone, TV analyst John McEnroe asserted, “She gets an A+ for game plan and an A for execution.” Schiavone heeded the sage advice of Corrado Barazzutti, the Italian Fed Cup captain and former top 10 player, who told Foxsports.com: “I told her you have to be brave. You have to take risks. You have to go out there and do something special. This is not a little tournament. This is Roland Garros. Something extraordinary is needed.”
Schiavone defused Samantha Stosur’s powerful game with a diverse repertoire of topspin, slice, touch shots, sharp angles, taking the ball early and on the rise, Federer-like defensive skills, and timely, near-perfect net-rushing. She won a terrific 14 of 15 points at net! The superb approaches and volleys shouldn’t have surprised Stosur, though, because the opportunistic Italian won 13 of 16 net approaches against No. 3 Wozniacki and 8 of 10 against No. 5 Elena Dementieva.
Schiavone revealed another effective tactic against the less agile Stosur: “When she was running to the backhand [corner], my second ball was shot to the other side.” Indeed, “The Lioness,” as she is called in Italy, was extraordinary.
“Always Change A Losing Game”
Italian Fed Cup captain and former top-10 player, Corrado Barazzutti, told Schiavone, "You have to
Bill Tilden wrote that timeless wisdom 85 years ago in Match Play and the Spin of the Ball. The flip side of Schiavone’s brilliant aggressive strategy was Stosur’s failure to counter it in any way.
What changes should Stosur – who had previously eliminated No. 1 Serena Williams, No. 4 Jelena Jankovic and four-time French titlist Justine Henin – have made? First, she should not have darted into the backhand corner to hit forehands so often. It put her out of position for the next shot against the speedy and clever Schiavone who often put Stosur on the defensive with down-the-line backhands and occasionally even volleys. For the same reason, Stosur erred tactically trying to run around to hit forehands against Schiavone’s wide kick serve in the ad court. It was unnecessary because her improved backhand is solid and strong. Second, Stosur’s kick serve, which is the best second serve in women’s tennis, became predictable and was used too often on first serves, which averaged only 167 kmh (103.8 mph), far less than her fastest first serve of 196 kmh (121.8 mph). The muscular Aussie should have belted bigger first serves to get much-needed aces (she had only three) and elicit service return errors.
Acknowledge Stroke Limitations
That means you, Justine Henin, seven-time Grand Slam singles champion. Henin should recognize and accept the truth: her elegant, much-praised, but clearly overrated one-handed backhand is sometimes overpowered and out-steadied. Serena Williams’ high-speed first serve and high-bouncing second serve exposed and exploited Henin’s weak link in the Australian Open final. Kim Clijsters’ relentlessly aggressive groundstrokes did the same in the Miami final. Stosur punished it in her 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over the undersized Belgian at Roland Garros.
Click photo: Henin's much praised one-handed backhand is a liability against high bouncing balls.
Henin’s vulnerable backhand couldn’t handle the vicious, high-bounding spin both from Stosur’s forehand and from her terrific kick service because A) of the inherent weakness of the one-handed backhand and B) she lacks the height, reach and strength of one-handed backhanders Boris Becker, Michael Stich, and Roger Federer.
Henin’s forehand is superior to her backhand, which is why she runs around some backhands to hit forehands. That is also why she slices some backhands in rallies but never slices forehands. And that is precisely why she should – to avoid unnecessary errors – slice backhand service returns against powerful first serves and high-bouncing second serves, exactly as Federer does. Unfortunately, this smart, high-percentage approach runs counter to Henin’s unwavering determination to be hyper-aggressive since her return to the pro circuit in January after a 19-month retirement.
Hit a Kick Service
It’s shocking that in 2010, more than 70 years after athletic U.S. champion Alice Marble mastered the American twist or kick serve, only a handful or so of top 100 women, most notably Stosur, Serena, and Svetlana Kuznetsova, can do it effectively and consistently. At its best, a powerful, wickedly spinning kick serve will force errors and weak returns and even produce a few aces. At a minimum, an accurate and deep kick serve will prevent opponents from blasting second serves back and will greatly reduce double-faults.
Click photo: The Stosur twist serve has a wicked kick and a long hang time in the air, both of which
Stosur’s superb kick serve was instrumental in her big wins over Serena, Henin, and Jankovic. When Stosur routed Jankovic 6-1, 6-2 in the French semis, TV analyst Darren Cahill noted, “That serve has a wicked kick, and it has [long] hang time in the air as well. It’s hanging, kicking and bouncing sharply to Jankovic’s left. That’s what’s really confusing the timing of Jankovic.”
Martina Navratilova, the greatest female serve-volleyer in history and now a garrulous but perceptive TV analyst, accurately touted the indispensable kick serve: “It’s effective against [backhand] two-handers because they don’t have that much reach and against one-handers because they have trouble with high-bouncing balls.”
Variety Is the Spice of Tennis
What happens when two heavyweights play each other? We found out in the much-awaited quarterfinal when Stosur survived a match point to oust Serena 6-2, 6-7, 8-6. Steadily improving Stosur reached the semis last year at Roland Garros, while Serena, the 2002 French champion, hadn’t advanced past the quarters since 2003. While the clay blunted Serena’s tremendous power, Stosur changed pace and spins to bring out the worst in Serena’s game. Stosur mixed in a one-handed slice backhand with her more powerful two-hander to ruin Serena’s rhythm so much for a set and a half – until Stosur served for the match at 6-2, 5-3 – that at one point befuddled and exasperated Serena muttered “Slice” to her player’s box.
Serena had trouble generating pace off the slice and sometimes failed to bend low enough to lift her return over the net. Stosur also cleverly varied the placement of her well-disguised serve and used heavy, moderate and slight overspin that confounded Serena who had problems “reading,” reaching, and timing it. The most telling statistic was Serena’s 46 unforced errors compared to Stosur’s stingy 24. On clay and in women’s tennis, Tilden’s aphorism that “Tennis matches are always lost on errors and never won by placements” often still holds true.
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.
Warning! Racquet Head Speed May be Dangerous to Your Game
Watching the recent French Open, Doug King took issue with the announcers and their use of the phrase, "racquet head speed." And it's not that the players don't produce great racquet head speed but, it's what happens when this phrase filters down to the club level and players try to emulate the pros. Because with out the proper technique, producing racquet head speed will invariably lead to a break down in form. In this extremely insightful video, Doug offers a better way.
Improving Your Mental Game: Nurturing Silence
Why is silence such an essential component of peak athletic performance? If we look carefully, we will discover that it is the constant conversation in our heads that is the chief culprit in preventing us from performing to our full athletic potential. It is this inner dialogue that fuels the emotional rollercoaster in individuals in general and athletes in particular. Happy Bhalla has some unique ideas that may help you quiet the mind and reach the ever elusive "zone state."
ProStrokes 2.0 – Marion Bartoli's Serve
Marion Bartoli had an outstanding 2007 Wimbledon reaching the finals and losing to the essentially unbeatable (at that moment) Venus Williams. She continues to make her mark on the WTA tour, but like so many other young players in their mid twenties, Bartoli is still looking for a break out performance in yet another Grand Slam event. With a two handed style reminiscent of Monica Seles, Marion hugs the baseline, drives the ball off both wings, and is one of the best ball strikers on the tour, but for better or worse, her serve and movement up to this point are average rather than exemplary. New this issue, Marion Bartoli's serve.
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
- "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 Backhand," by Doug King Public Members
- "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.
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- Click here to sign up for a risk-free, TennisOne 30 day free trial membership.
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