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JAK'S MONTHLY ESSAY SERIES: Achieving Your Personal Best

Movement Enhancement to Stay Better In-Point Connected

November 2022

Are you the mover, court defender, shot maker you want to be?

If not, regardless of your skill level, age, or fitness, maintaining a continuous rhythmic body movement all the time during the action, with its vital in-sync connection to the point dynamic, including when in between shots – your inner dance – is a key component in staying physically (and mentally too) wired to the action. Momentary physical shut downs at your shot's finish, so prevalent among club players, is an ongoing challenge, one often unrealized by many…stop start, start stop, stop start, start stop.

Digital drawing of advanced viusalization practices in Tennis

Failing to stay energized to the best of your ability - keeping your body in motion - is pulling the plug on your own game.

Players just stop playing in the middle of a point. Just standing there. Camped out. Not recovering. Not a muscle is stirring. Shut down, especially in Clubland doubles – possibly influenced by less court to defend vs singles along with sleepy partners? ("I thought you had that") –alarmingly even after deep, penetrating shots creating opportunities to move forward to ultimately control the net to pressure opponents and make them uncomfortable.

This undermining habit, also applicable when serving, was once both verbalized and demonstrated by former Davis Cup Captain and Wimbledon doubles finalist, Tom Gullikson, as "serve and survey" to much relatable laughter at a public clinic at the Vivante- Punta Gorda tennis center grand opening years ago (Anyone remember? Were you there?). Physically going from being in the shot making moment to then immediately tuning out of it is a rhythm buster, resulting in guaranteed inconsistent shot making.

This is universal stuff. Consider the recent, succinct post-game comment by Dallas Cowboy's coach, Mike McCarthy, on their impotent offense that could muster only one field goal in their recent 19-3 NFL 2022 season opening game loss to the Tom Brady led Tampa Bay Buccaneers, "Offensively, our rhythm was up and down."

Back on court, a timely, rhythmic recovery back to an appropriate defending position, after striking one's own shot, is key in staying plugged-into the point.

Most clubbers, when asked specifically how quickly they should recover to that position most often respond: "As fast as possible." Not necessarily.

Although at times that certainly can be a yes when, for example, scrambling hurriedly back to shut down a wide open court after being pushed way out on the wing. But, in a typical double's back court cross court dueling exchange, it's really only as fast as necessary in order to arrive – along with that important accompanying split step – to wherever you think you should be positioned at the opponent's next ball strike, to defend that shot.

On your way back into a defending position in those rally ball situations, get rhythmic and stay rhythmic. That is, maintain a full body athletic fluidity - that inner dance again – in working your way back with a whole body approach versus going post shot still "tin man."

Always seek to move with a purposeful fluidity, including when without the ball to better strike your next ball with that continued liquidity of movement fully engaged. Recently anointed Saint Serena (US Open), who was always an exemplary practitioner of this rhythmic dance when at her best, was especially cognizant of it to try and offset her obvious fitness and weight issue woes in her last New York hurrah.

It's a flow.

Digital drawing of advanced viusalization practices in Tennis

That's what being a good mover is about. That's what good movers embrace to make it look so easy. Roger Federer always come to mind as the all-time poster boy for that smooth flowing brand of movement, although right now I'm also conjuring up Miroslav Mecir, aka The Big Cat, from an earlier era as well. Oh, and don't forget Martina Navratolova.

After Fed's announcement of his retirement from competition post Laver Cup in September, the accolades started pouring in. "Baryshnikov in sneakers" according to the McEnroe brothers John and Patrick. Christopher Clarey, the always insightful NY Times lead tennis writer, put it this way, "None covered the courts of the globe with the grace of Federer. He did not move so much as flow."

Get your flow on.

 

 

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Past Essays

  • November 2022 - Movement Enhancement to Stay Better In-Point Connected
    [read more]
  • September 2022 - Advanced Visualization 301
    [read more]
  • August 2022 - Tennis' uniqueness: warming-up the enemy
    [read more]
  • July 2022 - Extracting Double Faults Through Receiving Positions... and more
    [read more]
  • June 2022 - Consider Serve and Volley
    [read more]
  • May 2022 - How the Toss Primes the Serve Relaxation Pump
    [read more]
  • April 2022 - Ball Watching and Science
    [read more]
  • March 2022 - Caving
    [read more]
  • February 2022 - Kenny G and Emmo
    [read more]
  • January 2022 - The Knees
    [read more]
  • December 2021 - The Match is with You
    [read more]
  • November 2021 - The Backup Racket in Your Bag
    [read more]
  • October 2021 - Every Tennis Player Can and Should Have a Weapon
    [read more]
  • September 2021 - LEARNING NEW SKILLS: First the Process, Then the Results
    [read more]
  • August 2021 - The Challenge of Visualizing… For Some
    [read more]
  • July 2021 - Playing with both your feet and your hands
    [read more]
  • June 2021 - Finding the Range
    [read more]
  • May 2021 - The Focus
    [read more]
  • April 2021 - About Your Butt Cap
    [read more]
  • March 2021 - The Essential Forehand and Backhand
    [read more]
  • February 2021 - On Being a Doubles All-Courter
    [read more]
  • January 2021 - Same Grip Volleying Myths
    [read more]

Essay Archives

Click a year to view more essays

2020

  • December 2020 - On mechanics and style
    [read more]
  • November 2020 - THE BIG 3: The Glue That Keeps Your Best Game Together
    [read more]
  • September 2020 - Protocol and Game Tradition Revisited
    [read more]
  • August 2020 - As Good as Your 2nd Serve
    [read more]
  • July 2020 - Shot Shaping
    [read more]
  • June 2020 - Getting a Point in Jeopardy Back to Neutral
    [read more]
  • May 2020 - A Positive Mind-Set: On and Off the Court in Today's C-19 Reality
    [read more]
  • April 2020 - The Zombie Tennis Creed – Top Ten
    [read more]
  • March 2020 - A Roadmap Into "The Zone"
    [read more]
  • February 2020 - The service toss: myths and realities
    [read more]
  • January 2020 - Shot Gazing
    [read more]

2019

  • December 2019 - The Dreaded High Bouncing Moonball Dilemma
    [read more]
  • November 2019 - Chalk Flew: Troublesome Line Calling without Hawkeye in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2019 - In the Spirit of Don't Drink and Drive… Don't Think and Hit [read more]
  • September 2019 - Old School vs New School [read more]
  • August 2019 - Getting the Ball Where You Want It [read more]
  • July 2019 - Taking Points Off…What? [read more]
  • June 2019 - Confidence Is Confidence: Take It Wherever You Can Get It [read more]
  • May 2019 - TENNIS INNOVATION IMPLODES [read more]
  • April 2019 - Defending the Court with Older Bones: A Club Player's Guide to Saying "Nice Shot" Less [read more]
  • March 2019 - Do You Have Doubles Rally Tolerance? [read more]
  • February 2019 - I Knew Jimy Van Alen: A Historical Look Back [read more]
  • January 2019 - The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Mental Toughness Skills [read more]

2018

  • December 2018 - Less Bling is the Thing [read more]
  • November 2018 - Anatomy of a Doubles Serve Return…from the Inside Out [read more]
  • October 2018 - Older Dogs and New Tricks: Still Improving at Any Age [read more]
  • September 2018 - The All-Important Dynamic of Gripping [read more]
  • August 2018 - The Cinemascope Syndrome: Undermining Your Ball Watching [read more]
  • June 2018 - Serving and Returning Better with a Quiet Eye [read more]
  • May 2018 - The Man Who Breathed for Two [read more]
  • January 2018 - Rituals Anyone? [read more]

2017

  • December 2017 - Why Serving is so Difficult in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2017 - Managing your body and mind in tennis space [read more]
  • August 2017 - Why Bother Breathing to Improve Your Game [read more]
  • May 2017 - The "Maintaining" One's Game as One Ages Fallacy [read more]
  • February 2017 - Punta Gorda Tennis Clubs: Setting the Bar [read more]
  • January 2017 - State of the Club Game: The Growing Death of Sportsmanship [read more]

Check back often for more essays.