Tennis groundstrokes are the foundation of any player’s game. Whether you’re a newbie or an advanced player, improving your consistency on groundstrokes can make a massive difference in your performance and enjoyment of the sport. Consistent groundstrokes allow you to dictate the pace and direction of the rally, control the court, and pressure your opponent.
To improve the consistency of your groundstrokes, here are tips to help you achieve your goal. Whether you’re looking to improve your forehand, backhand, or both, these tips can help you take your game to the next level.
FOCUS ON YOUR FOOTWORK
Footwork is generally considered the foundation of tennis and for a good reason. Your footwork sets up your entire shot, allowing you to move efficiently to the ball, get into the proper position, and transfer your weight smoothly as you hit the ball. Without proper footwork, your groundstrokes can become inconsistent and erratic, lacking power and control.
One of the most critical aspects of footwork for groundstrokes is getting into a balanced and stable position before hitting the ball. This means positioning your body so that your feet are shoulder-width apart, your weight is evenly distributed, and your knees are slightly bent. This allows you to generate power from the ground up, using your legs to drive through the ball and maintain your balance throughout the stroke.
USE THE RIGHT GRIP
Like your footwork, the grip you use on your tennis racquet can significantly impact your groundstrokes, particularly your ability to generate spin and control. The most common grip used on groundstrokes is the semi-western grip, a variation of the western grip that is slightly less extreme. This grip allows you to hit with more topspin, which can help you clear the net and keep the ball in play, even when you’re hitting with a lot of power.
The semi-western grip allows you to brush up on the ball more easily, which creates more spin and arc on your shots. It also allows you to hit with more margin for error, as the topspin helps to pull the ball down onto the court and keep it in play.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL
Among the most common coaching advice in tennis is to watch the ball or keep your head still in contact. Moving your head abruptly in a single direction can throw off your balance, reducing the power of your shot and making it simpler for your opponent to return the ball.
In addition, it has been found that the highest level of motion blur occurs slightly after impact for groundstrokes when the ball’s trajectory is viewed perpendicularly. However, by maintaining a continuous focus on the ball, it is possible to minimize the amount of motion blur, effectively tracking the ball’s movement and improving your ability to anticipate and prepare for your subsequent shot.
Tension in your body can lead to inconsistent shots. When tense, your muscles won’t be able to move freely. Tension can also cause you to grip the racquet too tightly, affecting your swing and causing your shots to be inconsistent. Thus, aim to stay loose as you hit your groundstrokes. That way, you can allow your wrist to move more freely, generating more power and spin on your shots and reducing the risk of injury.
Additionally, staying relaxed can help you avoid fatigue. Tennis matches can be long and grueling, and staying relaxed can help conserve your energy and ensure you’re mentally prepared for the game.