Tennis: Underspin doesn't mean underperformance

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Andrea, Tennis coach

DESCRIPTION

2 players rally together in cross court direction. Player A hits all the balls offensively. Player B hits consistent slice shots to keep the ball low after the bounce.

Drill specifications:

5-10 min per side

With more players on the court coach can use different approaches according to the goals he wants to achieve. If players need repetitions coach can switch both hitting players after particular number of shots (3 each) to make this drill more dynamic. If players lack of physical preparation better solution is to make 2 players work for a 1 minute while others can perform specific fitness drills. At one time 4 players can work on this aspect (2 playing forehands and 2 playing backhands)

COACHING POINTS

Tennis is a strategical game so players have to constantly adjust to different responses from the opponent. Hitting offensive shots is a great way to dominate the rival but it also can be an easy move to quickly lose the match. To achieve good results while playing more powerful strokes player has to consider what kind of ball he is receiving (spin, depth, power, height) and what the best answer is. The best defensive players in the world understand that slice is an enormous weapon in defense because it keeps the ball low after the bounce as also it takes the pace off the ball so the rival has to generate the power over again. Fabrice Santoro in the past and Monica Niculescu these days are examples of players who used slice shots to beat much more skilled players than they are.

In this drill player works on hitting aggressively of slice shots. Low bounce of the ball forces the player to lower the point of contact so coach should teach players to effectively use legs to generate the power for the next shots. Sometimes this kind of balls require going almost to the ground with the back knee to effectively hit another offensive shot. Additionally slice is an underspin shot so player has to recognize this specification and make proper decision. To clear the net with a lot of power and still make it inside the court players have to use much more spin in comparison to regular shots. Using the wrist in the last phase of the shot is a helpful tip to deal with low slice shots and still keep the rival in defense.

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