Anyone who steps on a tennis court will face two direct obstacles; the net and your opponent. The net should be the first to worry about, but should not be your nemesis.
What is above the net? The sky is the limit. It might be easy for some players to hit over the net, but for others it might be a nightmare, especially during a match. Obviously people are going to make mistakes and will put the ball in the net no matter what. You might know by now that tennis is a game of errors and the less you make those errors, the more chances you have to win the match.
Unforced errors can be divided into two categories; the net unforced errors and the out long, or alo known as wide errors.
As a tennis player you need to estimate how many shots you’ve made long or into the net in a game. Ask a friend or family to log your errors or players will be able to use the Babolat Play and Connect interface that will be released in the near future. This will help a great deal if you are struggling with making too many mistakes.
Once you have analyzed your errors, the next step is to try to minimize the net errors which could be caused by various mistakes during play.
First, analyze your game and figure out where you made the most errors. This can be also logged during the match.
Let’s say you’ve made more net errors from your backhand than your forehand. Now you have isolated the problem and can work on your stroke.
Higher balls can be very problematic especially for a one handed backhand, therefore you have two choices; either you hit the ball on the rise or you need to let the ball come down to your preferred hitting zone.
Remember to always finish high on your follow through. Most players tend to shorten their follow troughs which forces a downward motion and therefore making a net mistake.
Low balls are also a major problem when making a net error. Generally low balls have a sliced effect or under spin effect. Consequently, the player needs to understand that his knees need to be lower than usual. This will also give the ball a little more topspin. Another option is to hit back a slice and stay low.
A lot of players will do exactly what needs to be done during a match; get low, get under the ball and they still put the ball in the net. That is because they stood up to fast instead of holding their position a little bit longer.. The other important aspect of the stroke is to finish high. Just take a look a Roger Federer’s or Richard Gasquet’s backhands; they ALWAYS FINISH HIGH.
Now that you know how fix these problems, you need to practice. Reading about it and learning something new is great but it will not matter if you don’t put it into action. There are a couple of drills out there that can help you with your stroke.
If you can, ask your hitting partner to feed you high balls by hand on the same side of the court. Try to find your hitting zone or the most comfortable height for you to hit. The racquet head should be slightly under the ball at the contact point. Don’t over hit it! Simply apply some top spin and finish towards the area you want to hit and aim high. This will give you a higher tennis net
Once you get a hang of it, take it up a notch. Place a cone in the middle of the baseline and do the same exercise by hitting the high ball and getting back in the middle of the court. This will allow you to hit a backhand
on the run and recover.
Do the same drill, but now you need to get lower on the ball. Make sure you bend your knees, not your torso, and get below the ball. At the contact point, you should give it a little flick of the wrist for top spin enabling the ball to rise faster. Your movement, however, should be the same; finish nice and high.
Always have an agenda when practicing. If it’s just a hitting session with your buddy, try to practice one thing each time. Never be afraid to try different things during practice, especially practice matches. Most people do not like to lose, it’s a normal behavior but the ultimate goal is to get better. So even if you lose a set with someone you usually beat, it’s okay, you will beat him or her again.
Lastly, remember to give yourself a chance, it’s better to miss long or wide then hitting the ball to the net.
Malik Benyebka is a tennis pro with 25 years competitive experience around the world, has a Masters in marketing, is passionate about the game and dedicates all his efforts into coaching, writing, sharing experiences, giving tips and opinions concerning tennis, products and fitness.
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