TennisOne Membership Drive
If you have ever thought about joining TennisOne then now is the perfect time, but you will have to wait until tomorrow. I will be announcing a special limited-time-offer promotion with a bonus 1 hour video series from Jim McLennan, "Building Your Ground Game." This product features the keys to making a breakthrough in your forehand and backhand and alone is valued at $47 but you will get it at no cost to you. (Don't worry existing members will have access to this as well.)
However, It is probably a very good idea to be sitting at your computer and ready to go right when we launch which will be at 8:00 am Pacific time tomorrow.
There is a reason for this...I am going to give away an additional bonus for the first 100 members...Stay tuned – Kim Shanley, Publisher
"What's New" Product Video
- from Tennis Warehouse - Becker and Head Microgel racquets; Nike Air Oscillate (Sampras), Fila Alfa, and Reebok shoes
"Wow Factor" versus "How Factor"
When I attend professional tennis matches, I usually spend time observing the fans as much as the players themselves.
What I notice it that most spectators, being tennis players themselves to some degree, watch matches for what I call the “wow” factor as opposed to the “how” factor.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with going to a sporting event to simply take in the beauty and athleticism, or, just appreciate a good battle between opponents.
However, since most of us constantly work to improve our own games, I would point out that there is a lot ot learn from the pros regarding commonalities. In other words, try focusing more on the commonalities among pros: things you can incorporate into your own game.
The problem, of course, is that seeing the game live eliminates “slo-mo” replay factor (unless you are in the stadium and can see one of the jumbo screens, but they offer only limited replays!), and the human eye can’t catch the subtle elements within the gross motor movements that encompass a particular stroke.
This is why the advent of video, and more applicable—the Internet—has become such a resource for those who seek to emulate the pros as a means to improvement. The Internet has made observation, dissection, discussion and, application wide spread and universally accessible.
Who to Emulate?
The question now is not how do we capture and study the players’ games that represent the current “best of show,” but which players offer optimal benefit to those who wish to take advantage of this technological advancement and visual understanding?
While this question is subjective at best, I look for players who possess optimal stroke “Foundations” to emulate. Something in which we can build our own games from. Remember, copying a particular player’s game is just a starting point; it will not make you a clone of that player. I have taught thousands of players the same, exact foundation, yet no two players have ever played exactly alike. Human conditions, from personality to athleticism, from character to perception of strengths and weaknesses, all combine to “evolve” players into developing their own personal ‘inscription’ on their strokes, strategies, footwork and mechanics.
Of the players who went the distance at this year’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, Novak Djokovic is one of my favorites when it comes to stroke production. Though he was man-handled by Federer in the first set (and who isn't man-handled by Federer now and again), losing 6-1, Novak came back and made a match out of the second, going down 7-5.
Click photo: Djokovic uses a compact unit turn, nearly full western grip, and a classic “wiper” finish on the forehand side.
Djokovic is not know for his mental prowess, having many situations that exposed his tendency to fold, withdraw, or simply not play his best tennis in championship moments. However, from a stroke technique standpoint, Novak possesses a very sound game and a great model to emulate.
Forehand: The forehand is fairly straight forward, a page right out of the “Modern Forehand” manual. Djokovic uses a compact “unit turn,” using his off hand to assist in creating the turn – a must for any player looking to develop a solid forehand.
His nearly full western grip is not mandatory in the modern game, but combined with his stroke pattern, it provides a high level of ball rotation for that “heavy ball” forehand so many top players hit. His classic “wiper” finish is the way it should be done: he keeps the “plane the same” and doesn’t roll the racquet over the ball like so many club players try to do. Instead, Djokovic drives forward, up and across the ball.
Click photo: On the backhand side, Djokovic uses a very short backswing with only a small loop and drops well below the ball.
Backhand: Like Lleyton Hewitt, Novak uses a very short backswing, only a small loop, as the racquet drops well below the ball in a fluid, dynamic movement. He uses a classic, driving closed-stance step for most backhands and maintains very quiet hands within the backswing. He prepares early, his racquet back nearly fully at the bounce, and his grip is a classic continental/soft semi-western forehand combination. His contact path brings the racquet center line parallel with his dominant forearm. His left hand drives up and through the ball, maintaining integrity in the swing plane and generating significant topspin. His finish is a bit stronger on the left hand than many, but I like the finish of his backhand for the compact, explosive power he generates.
Serve: I really like several parts of Novak’s serve: Instead of both arms going up together like Roddick, (which can create a hitch as well as a tendency to rush the serve), Djokovic takes a more classic approach. He keeps a very inverted wrist position and a loose grip. This position allows for optimal racquet head acceleration in the desired swing path.
Click photo: Djokovic uses a classic takeback, keeps a very inverted wrist position, and a loose grip. This position allows for optimal racquet head acceleration in the desired swing path.
While a some instructors advise a low toss, very few pros actually use a low toss. Novak uses a medium high toss, a pattern that allows him to coil slowly and then accelerate into the serve.
Most recreational players who use a low toss end up with a lower than optimal contact point and rush to hit the ball. There are other detrimental aspects I see to a low toss (though, it is noted that some very great servers use such a toss) that I won’t elaborate here...only to say that if we are going to emulate the pros (those who make a living at winning tennis matches), then we should identify with the 90% (or more) who toss fairly high.
As the ball continues up, Djokovic's knees bend in a very calm, natural movement. His acceleration phase demonstrates an explosive upward thrust from the legs, the classic “cartwheel” movement of his shoulders rotating over one another, his body relatively sideways right up to contact, and the identifiable “edge on” position of the racquet (as if he were going to hit the ball with the leading edge of his frame). This is followed by the internal rotation of the forearm creating the huge amount of brush combined with forward velocity which provides his serve with good net clearance, hop, and speed. His significant “kick back” of the back leg before it comes forward is one of the components of any good server.
Obviously, there are far more strokes than just forehands, backhands, and serves that define a player. But, since a large percentage of shots include these three, it is a good place to start your foundation. Study the slow-motion strokes of Novak Djokovic in the TennisOne ProStrokes Gallery and explore all other stroke patterns including slices, volleys, overheads, and drop shots that make his game so effective.
And along the way...improve your own game.
See Dave Smith's new Disney action book just out, "Hidden Mickey."
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.
How to Become a Smart Tennis Player
Andy Murray is considered by many to be one of the smarter players in the game, and coaches and commentators often laud the qualities that make certain players smart and others...well, not so smart. But, what does it mean to be a smart tennis player? Happy Bhalla thinks the ability to adapt to constantly changing circumstances is the key to being a smart player. But what are the skills that allow us to adapt and how we develop them is the really interesting part?
The Effortless Swing – Catching
Watching the pros play tennis one can't help but notice how smoothly and fluidly they swing through the ball; at times it seems almost effortless. And these days we hear a lot from teaching pros about the effortless swing. In the first of his two part series on the effortless swing, Doug King talks about catching the ball with the racquet and the role it plays in developing a smoother, more dynamic approach to the stroking process.
Being Effective at Net When Playing Doubles
Good doubles teams have the ability to cover the court effectively. They always seem to be in the right place at the right time, balanced and expecting the next shot. Their positioning and movements are in sync with each other, and also with their opponents' movements. Here, Alan Margot explains the concept of mirroring your opponent's movement, and how to cut off the return, neutralize those obnoxious lobbers, and maintain an aggressive position at net.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Philipp Kohlschreiber's Serve
This big-serving German has quietly broke into the top 50 on the ATP Tour this year, with a career high ranking of 27 last month. Kohlschreiber is one of few one-handed backhand players, using a strong eastern grip and nearly a full western grip on his forehands. Mixing in slice backhands and occasional migration to the net, Philipp has a well-rounded game, similar in style to that of Roger Federer. Check out Philipp Kohlschreiber's game in the all new TennisOne ProStrokes Gallery 2.0. New this issue – Philipp Kohlschreiber's serve.
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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