February 5, 2010

Taking "Steps" To Improve Your Tennis

Here's a statistic I came across somewhere (since I can't remember where, it must be true):

* A tennis pro averages about 10 to 12 steps between each ball they hit.

* A 4.0 club player averages about 6 to 8 steps between hits.

* A 3.5 player takes about 4 to 6 steps between shots.

* A 3.0 player averages about 2 to 4 steps between shots.

You know footwork is important.  But did you realize it was THAT important?

The reality is when you move more between your shots, you hit better shots. Why?
  1. You achieve better court position. Taking many small steps allows you to make adjustments to your location on the court as the ball is still moving towards you. Big, wide steps often result in you being in the wrong place when the ball finally gets to you.
  2. You are lighter on your feet and therefore can achieve better body position or form when hitting the ball. In other words, you can turn your upper body and shoulders more easily with smaller steps.
  3. Your weight is more appropriately distributed and you have better control of your momentum. Heavy, lunging steps often result in your momentum moving in the wrong direction (or at least not in the best direction) and continuing to move in that direction as you're hitting.
So how do you get yourself to take more and better steps on the court?  Improving your footwork is accomplished by simply becoming more conscious of what your feet are doing.  At first, it will be very awkward for you to force yourself to think about how many and what size of steps you are taking.  But if you can become more aware of your feet and can practice taking smaller, quicker steps, this improved footwork will soon become a part of your game.  Just keep moving and you will experience footwork success.

FYI - I like the photo I have added to this post because this girl is taking such a HUGE step as she goes to hit her forehand.  Maybe its the camera angle, but I'm guessing she's more of a tennis model and less of a tennis player.


© Kim Selzman 2010
All Rights Reserved

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