To play and enjoy the game of tennis to it's optimal level is a complex discussion that is influenced not only by your sporting talent levels, your fitness or your desire or attitude.
It requires an in depth and thorough knowledge of the game and its key principles and an understanding of how these principles apply to the game. Of critical importance is how well you can perform and apply these principles in the heat of battle.
A snapshot of the factors involved in each and every shot include:- Readiness/Preparation/Execution and Recovery.
READINESS - Being in the correct tactical court position, having the correct grip, stance and core readiness position, anticipation, seeing and reading the ball from your opponents racket and being ready to perform a correctly timed and dynamic split-step.
PREPARATION - The ability to perform a dynamic and power first step in the direction of the ideal contact area. The ability to know and decide upon the correct tactical shot option for the on coming shot. The ability to commence the body/core and racket preparation for the selected shot option as the initial power step is taken and importantly the ability to have your preparation for the shot and racket face lined up with the intended contact point completed before your opponents shot enters your hitting area. the use of the correct footwork patterns to arrive at the optional contact point with your dynamic energy and body weight balanced loaded and waiting to transfer into the contact point and through to the direction of your intended shot. Additionally, it is critical to maintain perfect eye and mind connection to the flightpath of the oncoming ball.
EXECUTION - The use of the correct footwork patterns to allow turned bodyweight transference into the contact point creating linear core and racket head acceleration into impact and through to the intended target. The swing pattern needs to be technically sound creating the desired ball flight shape required whilst maintaining body balance and an elongated contact/hitting zone. The eyes/mind must track the ball precisely into the contact zone and remain fixed and focused (Federer Eyes) at this point until the ball has left the racket face and contact area. It is critical that both racket head acceleration and body weight transference are maintained until the completion of the stroke production, your footwork patterns have been completed and body balance achieved.
RECOVERY - Recovery for the next shot should not be initiated until the completion of your stroke production. Your first recovery footwork pattern must be powerful, dynamic and balanced allowing player to recover their optimal tactical court position before their shot enters their opponents hitting area. During this time the player must focus and pay attention to what is occurring on the opposite side of the net so as to see, read and anticipate all cues indicating the type and direction of their opponents next shot. Optimal recovery leads into and creates perfect readiness for the next shot and the above sequence is repeated until the completion of the point.
OVERVIEW OF THE GAME OF TENNIS
In subsequent articles we will go into a more in depth discussion on key/critical factors that will influence and determine how well you play and important areas of development such as:-
1 Watching the ball
2 Seeing/reading and anticipating play
3 Optimal court positioning for both single and doubles
4 Pre match/training warm up/ post match/training warm down routines
5 In between point/game routines
6 Key factors in the technical performance of every stroke
7 Getting into/being in and staying in the zone
8 Control over emotional/physical intensity levels including mistake management and control of nerves
9 Discussion of game types and respective modes of point construction/tactics
10 Key concepts determining the performance of your game
11 Game momentum - achieving it and maintaining and stopping it when its going against you.
12 Off court physical and mental training
13 Discussion on playing against players weaker than you, better than you or of equal standard and the benefits and frequency of playing against these standards
14 Biomechanics of the Game
15 Injury preparation and rehabilitation
18 The influence of financially backing, career path options and the varying roles and responsibilities of the player, their parents, their coaches and mentors