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Swing Up and Out
Using our new Video Network Pro Comparison Channel
So much of the game is visual, not only in our appreciation of the form of others, but equally, if not more importantly, in the way we can learn the game without language, jargon, or instruction but simply by watching a stroke repeatedly until it becomes an indelible part of our imagination. Interestingly, as a young boy learning the game of tennis, Pancho Gonzalez had a mentor at Exposition Park in Los Angeles who directed him to watch particularly fluid strokes (might be forehands, backhands or serves, but always the mentor chose the best examples of these) and after much study, Pancho would dedicate the rest of the afternoon to mimicking that stroke.
On this score, one of the exciting things about TennisOne for me as an editor (as well as a continuing student of the game) is the opportunity to work in video and still media in order to draw your eyes to particular elements of balance, rhythm, and form.
So the following article compares the service deliveries of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. The comparison was created effortlessly within the Pro Comparison channel in our new Video Network. And, before we go much further, I encourage you to experiment with this feature – choose first from a wide assortment of players, then a particular shot, and finally a particular camera angle. As an example, I created the following comparison of Hingis and Sharapova in less than two minutes.
Click photo: Martina Hingis and Maria Sharapova in front view – both start quickly, hesitate ever so slightly in the “trophy pose” then hurl their body forward and into the hit.
Though we will look closely at the action of the serve when comparing Andre and Pete, it may be instructive to look at the similarities in rhythm between Martina and Maria. Both start somewhat quickly, and both hesitate ever so slightly, before launching up and into the hit. This pause or hesitation, looks vaguely similar to the so called “trophy pose,” but to my eye their hesitation disrupts the flow, and looks different than the more fluid versions of Pete and Andre.
Within the service delivery, we can distinguish between the motion or “macro” and the action or “micro.” The motion of both men appears fluid, balanced; neither moves their feet during the delivery, both move up and into the hit. And when building your own serve, either model is totally recommended. Simple, effortless, controlled power.
But in the action, or “micro” these two guys diverge, and though this may be a small difference, I believe it leads to wildly divergent results. Andre swings up and snaps the racquet over the ball, the classic “wrist snap.” In fact, in the still we see the tip of the racquet leading down just after the hit. No real problem here and those of you using the wrist snap certainly develop both spin and power. But the contrast occurs with Pete where the forearm has turned “in” which snaps the racquet “out” and the still at a similar point in this delivery looks quite a bit different.
Click photo: Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras in right side view – note continuous motion as the racquet swings through the “trophy pose” then they throw their body up (rather than forward) and into the hit.
Interestingly (at least to me) this nuance cannot be seen by the naked eye when watching servers in action because the racquet head is moving so darn fast. But the following two video tips within our extensive library might provide additional insight.
In the first example I demonstrate how a change in the alignment of the racquet with the forearm will magnify the force and speed of the racquet head at the top of the swing. And the drill of snapping the racquet against the fence may show you in a wordless way how hitting up and out actually feels.
In another of our past video tips (looking younger and with a different stick) I demonstrate a drill that unlocks the feel of snapping up and out, which also explains that the wrist-snap isn't really a wrist-snap, but rather a forearm roll. The tip involves putting a watch on your wrist and trying to "tell time" on the watch face just after contact. Give it a try.
Don Kerr helped me so much with this material years ago in New Orleans; his tips were to throw a dart in the ceiling (meaning swing up) and then unscrew a light bulb at the top of the swing (meaning snap out) and in combination those two phrases aptly describe Pete’s serve.
Take a few moments on court to experiment, and see if you can get the feel of throwing the dart, unscrewing the light bulb, snapping the racquet head against the fence, or telling time at the top of the swing. And also, take a few moments within our Video Network to create your own Pro Comparison files.
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.
Improve Your Forehand with Medicine Ball Training
One of the greatest areas of improvement in the modern era of tennis is in the physical domain. The players are bigger, stronger, and faster then ever before. To enhance performance players are relying on breakthrough strength and conditioning methods. One of the most common forms of training the pro players are using is medicine ball training. Medicine (Med) ball training is a form of plyometric training for the whole body it can really help you become a more powerful player. WTA coach Ian Barstow along with tour player Melinda Czink show you how it works.
The Balance Between Practice and Competition
There seems to be a constant debate between tennis teaching professionals; those who stress competition and match play experience, and those who stress the constant development of strokes and technique through practice sessions, lessons, and drills. Equally divergent are players themselves, many choosing one activity in lieu of the other. In reality, most legitimate pros know that there is a need for balance between these two tennis philosophies. Dave Smith addresses this issue.
ProStrokes 2.0 - Rafael Nadal's Forehand
The Rafael Nadal Juggernaut cruised into the semifinals at the Beijing Olympics with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Jurgen Melzer and on Monday he is set to become the 24th player in ATP history to hold the No. 1 ranking, displacing Roger Federer who, prior to the French Open final, was on track to be the greatest player of all time. So much of this game is about confidence and momentum and about belief. At this point Rafa has all that in spades. Check out his strokes in the all new super slow-mo ProStrokes 2.0. Only on TennisOne.
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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