Take little steps to make big improvements in your tennis game

Last month's article, "The Kinetic Chain," cited the transfer of energy starting at your feet and ending with contacting the ball to make the perfect shot.

But, in order to make that perfect shot, you have to get to the ball on time and in balance.

Tennis, being a game of much spontaneity, requires constant adjustments to get your body out of the way of the ball while being balanced and moving your weight forward. Since all tennis strokes start from the ground up, it's important to learn and understand how to get positioned to make solid contact.

Here's how that's done ... by using little steps. Small steps win over long strides most of the time. Using long strides when hitting the ball can cause you to stretch out, throwing you off balance and making it more difficult to adjust to the ball.

Taking small steps to get your feet to the ball will keep you balanced and improve your consistency.

Sometimes there's not enough time to take small steps and you'll need to take that extra stride to reach the ball. But, if you have the time, use smaller steps to adjust to the ball's spin and bounce.

The small steps will put you in a better position and, ultimately, help you to hit a better shot by controlling your balance.

More benefits to taking small steps:

• Effectively playing in windy conditions. The wind can do crazy, unexpected things to the ball and its location. Keep your feet moving to better help you get in position.

• When a ball is hit right to you. When the ball is hit within reach, we tend to not move our feet. When this happens, don't become lazy!

• Take a few small steps to move to the side of the ball and get in the best possible position. Most mistakes are made by not moving to hit the ball.

• Using small steps helps you be ready for a ball that takes a funny bounce or is hit with different types of spin.

• By taking several small steps as the ball gets closer, you can avoid getting jammed or the ball getting too far away from you. If the ball is too close or too far away from you, it makes it difficult to hit the ball in your strike zone and your shot will be less effective than it could be.

It's the little things that count. So, keep your feet moving in small steps and you'll make big improvements in your tennis game.

Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides custom-hybrid racquet service in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area. lwmarino@hotmail.com


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