Recreational  Players Tend to Reach for the Ball Instead of Getting Close Enough for An Optimal Swing
Recreational Players Tend to Reach for the Ball Instead of Getting Close Enough for An Optimal Swing

Tennis: Recreational Players Should Take More Steps Per Shot

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education Update

One of the biggest differences between professional tennis players and their recreational counterparts is that pros take 10-12 steps between each shot, while the typical recreational player takes only 3-4 steps.

The best players use their feet more.

Why Do Pros Take More Steps?
Why do pros take more steps? While it is partly a matter of pros being able to hit and chase shots that recreational players wouldn't attempt, there is another, more important factor. It takes more steps to get into the ideal position to swing at the ball.

Recreational players tend to take as few steps as possible then reach for the ball. It's human nature to do things as economically as possible, and these players have probably experienced situations in which they have reached for the ball and made a decent shot. So they feel that using less energy by taking fewer steps, then reaching, is acceptable.

However players who reach for the ball are not in position to make an optimal swing. That requires them to get close enough so they are balanced, can use a normal backswing, and employ a back-to-front weight shift and body rotation.

Coaching Cue
You may be able to use your players' own feedback to convince them that they should take extra steps when approaching the ball. Many players who have had lessons - perhaps even the students in your physical education class - will tell you that the swings they take in practice feel different from the ones they take in games.

That's because they are often fed balls to the ideal spot when practising, so their practice swings are from an ideal position. In games, they must chase the ball, and don't take the extra steps needed to assume that ideal swing position. They ARE swinging differently, and that's why it feels different.

A good coaching cue is to tell your players to "reach with the feet not their hands." This will remind them to take the extra steps they need to get into good position for the shot...even if it does take extra energy to do so.

1. Ace McCloud,Tennis: Tennis Strategies: The Top 100 Best Things That You Can Do To Greatly Improve Your Tennis Game (Tennis Tactics, Tennis Strategy, Tennis Tips, Tennis Coaching, Playing Tennis, Pro Mastery Publishing, 2015.

2. Dave Smith (Senior Editor), Reach With Your Feet, Not With Your Hands, TennisOne Newsletter, February 22, 2008.


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