Teaching Footwork, Balance and Movement in Tennis
In tennis, there is one part of the game you MUST have control of and that is – having a solid foundation and complete control of your body when you make contact with the ball….which means, you have to know how to
- Move to the ball,
- Make contact…and then
- Recover in order to repeat that process over and over…
The following series of blogs that will be sequentially written and presents a complete conceptual framework. It is a real attempt to figure out the baffling array of movement patterns in tennis. It introduces a method of teaching around the concept of the contact move that encompasses all the elements of movement to the hit, during the hit and after the hit.
The 5 R’s
Without a doubt tennis is an extremely athletic sport. Roger Federer in 2006 said ‘My game is all about footwork. If I move well I play well!’ To move well or when analysing movement there are 5 areas that I like to address. I call them the 5R’s. That is-
1. Getting Ready by being up on your toes and then creating a strong foundation with your legs when the opponent strikes the ball,
2. Reading the opponents approaching ball into a specific “Contact Zone” on the court,
3. Reacting out to this ball with “Out Steps” into a “Footwork Zone” and setting up the feet into a “Hitting Stance”,
4. Responding with a “Contact Move” and its corresponding “Balance Move” and corresponding braking step, then finally
5. Recovering with “Brake then Recovery Steps” to (IDEALLY) the “Mid-point Recovery Position” of your opponent’s next shot.
When you put the 5 R’s together you get this ’Completing of the Circle’ with your footwork and this should happen time and time again with the hitting of every ball.
Many footwork chapters concentrate on the importance of first step quickness, split stepping and moving to and from the ball but very few target the missing link i.e. the athletic movement and balance needed when making contact with the ball i.e. the Contact Move.
Across the tennis community a COMMON language has not been addressed in this crucial area of the game where a common communication method needs to be used for consistent education, learning and recognition.
The following series of blogs will explain the concept of the 5 R’s in great detail particularly isolating “the Golden 12” contact moves then the approach, volley and finally smash contact moves