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Technique - Changing ball direction
Hi, I am a junior tennis player in Maryland, and I had a question concerning the contact point. I am wondering whether when hitting the ball crosscort (ie. changing the direction of the ball), should you do so more by swinging earlier, so you meet the ball later in the swing? Or, should you position your body so you are more or less facing crosscourt (when I say facing, I don't mean completely opening up your body to face crosscourt, I am still talking about turning, etc. to prepare for the shot...just lining up your body more crosscourt). I guess what I am trying to say is should you change the direction of the ball by varying where you strike the ball in your swing path, or should you adjust the position of your entire body (and therefore hit the ball always at the same moment in your swing) in order to hit the ball crosscourt or down the line? Does this also apply to angling volleys? I hope this makes some sense. Thanks.
i think it depends on your skill level and what you're comfortable with. it seems to me one of the reasons roger federer dominates so well is his ability to change direction without giving it away by turning his whole as body as you mentioned. his racquet head speed and control is so miraculous that he doesn't need to open his body more to change direction. but if you're not comfortable with that then it's probably not something you want to try. if anything though, you're best off asking a professional teacher or a coach.
It sounds as if you're thinking far too much about this. Just go for your shot.
On crosscourt or down the line, simply drive your body toward the target. Don't worry so much about the mechanics. Instead, drill the situation for at least 100 balls each way. You'll figure out your rhythm and contact point.
I like to teach players to position the wrist in a position that creates the direction they want to hit the ball. By bending the wrist by very small variations, one can change direction of the ball path without having to compromise their swing direction and speed.
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I would think that for the most part you would want to change the angle of your body so you can use your standard swing which should be your most consistent and most powerful. But, you may want to make your opponent think you are going down the line, in which case you would have to line up your body for a down the line shot and hit the ball earlier out in front and use more wrist to pull the ball cross court. Also, where you are in relation to the ball may not allow you to turn your body, so you would have to hit the ball with different timing and wrist snap to get the ball where you want it.
"I am wondering whether when hitting the ball crosscort (ie. changing the direction of the ball), should you do so more by swinging earlier, so you meet the ball later in the swing? Or, should you position your body so you are more or less facing crosscourt (when I say facing, I don't mean completely opening up your body to face crosscourt, I am still talking about turning, etc. to prepare for the shot...just lining up your body more crosscourt). "
In modern tennis you wait as long as possible before initiating your swing, tracking the ball with your racquet out in front of you; FIND the ball without thinking about your feet, FEEL the contact with the strings then pull across and FINISH over your shoulder. The direction of the ball is dictated by the position of your hand and, therefore, the angle of your racquet, not so much where your body is facing (you could be on the run, backing up, open stance or closed stance depending on the incoming ball). Swinging earlier robs you of time to make the appropriate choice in addressing the ball. The ball decelerates up to 60% from baseline to baseline, so you actually have plenty of time to react by waiting longer. Wait for the bounce (you can count to 5, starting with 1 at the bounce and 5 at contact - you wait, count to 5 THEN you go, pulling across the ball like in martiail arts, with acceleraltion from change of direction, not force). This is the way the pros play.
Last edited by Tennis Angel; 10-16-2008 at 12:40 PM.
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Well once again we have a situation where the original Poster is probably no longer amongst us however for the benefit of those who are, I recall my old Mentor's many words of Tennis Wisdom, which I've found were not that shabby.
He would say, "Put out the cigarette". Ah yeah alright sure thing I think I understand and next time I buy some, I'll do just that
But what he meant was a simple illustration of what you do with your feet. So I'm going to try and explain.
Assuming you're a right handed Player (as I), so you're waiting for the ball return and you take note that your opponent is hanging mid-court at the baseline. You can either attack (respond) with a Cross-Court (CC) Forehand (FH) or DTL FH (down-the-line forehand). Now try and picture this if you will, you have two options to choose from and I prefer the latter.
1. Step forward with your left foot upon ball contact and shift your weight forward as you make contact and take note of where your shoulder is facing, which will force compensation on where the ball with travel. If you step into the shot with your left shoulder facing DTL, your body will adjust itself to produce a DTL shot & subsequently if you allow your shoulder to face CC, then your ground-stroke return will produce a CC shot. <ez enuff>
2. Let's consider an approach that (dare I say is more modern?) ok this is what my old friend meant when he said 'put out the cigarette'. Again you're standing awaiting the Ball and at the point of contact & you've already decided whether it will be CC or DTL, it's all about what you do with your feet.
[Not your shoulders this time]
1st the DTL return - Right Arm pivots backwards - Right Leg remains somewhat stationary and your LEFT foot makes a motion similar to how you would mash out a cigarette by keeping the ball of Left Foot on the surface and rotating the heel clock-wise, this will also force your Left knee to pivot inwards. When make contact, the only part of your body that will produce an exaggerated motion is your LEFT FOOT again on the ball [not heel] turn counter-clockwise producing the DTL result.
In contrast, if you wish to produce a CC return, the same theory applies but this time upon contact, not only will your rotate on the ball of your left foot counter-clockwise but your right foot will slightly rotate counter-clockwise while the heel raises upward.
If you do this and you can actually practice this in front of a mirror, the result will be a CC forehand. On the BH side however, the mechanics are somewhat different be it conventional or not, which I'll leave for someone else to chime in on.
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