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Coaches Corner - tip of the month


Tips by Jak BeardsworthRELAX – IT’S JUST A RALLY BALL

Far too often club players find themselves uncomfortable and apprehensive when locked in a backcourt cross court exchange in doubles – for no good reason. RELAX! It’s just a “rally ball.” Don’t sweat it. There’s nothing wrong with being willing to stalemate an opponent from the back of the court. Stalemating isn’t losing, as so many wrongly seem to perceive in the heat of battle, it’s actually a winning strategy! A message is sent that you do not give away points through panicked, unforced, unnecessary errors by trying to force square pegs into the first round hole in sight as quickly as possible.

Demonstrating to opponents that you are unflappable, and not prone to impatience and impulsiveness at the 3rd or 4th ball, puts tremendous pressure on them, an invitation if you will, to come up with the goods prematurely. Temp them to make the first move. Let them play. Let them get antsy. Believe me, it’s as satisfying as hitting a winner to hang tough and keep pushing their self-destruct button. What fun!

An ideal variation on this theme is to recognize when the approaching ball is a particularly inviting opportunity for you, a ball that’s going to be right in your strong side wheelhouse. By increasing your racket speed through the ball ever so slightly – 10-15% max – you’ll be able to strike a more penetrating ball, delivered with stealth, hopefully deep or at an opportune angle. Since they will absolutely fail to recognize the subtle change in your swing rate, they will be completely surprised by the extra “gas” off the bounce.

In addition, your partner at the net, cognizant of what is transpiring – that the opponent is about to have their hands full, is now free to roam unencumbered and poach aggressively. Another message sent. Double whammy!

Go ahead and observe almost any match, anywhere in clubland – these matches are not won with brilliant shot making, they are lost through impatience and over the top, unrealistic shot selection that always goes along with it.

This is so easy to achieve once committed, you could even hum along the Simon & Garfunkel lyric simultaneously, “Slow down, you're movin' too fast, ...cruisn’ along and feelin’ groovy.”

Jan 09 HarborStyle Article

For more tips, check out the November 2009 issue of Harbor Style Magazine.
Jak's Harbor Fitness article discusses how important proper footwork is to the game of tennis.
(PDF Reader needed to open this file. Click here to get the free download.)

Questions and comments are welcome at anytime for all tips present and past via email.

This Tip of the Month is copyright© by Jak Beardsworth Tennis. All rights reserved. Copies may be made only with the permission of and by Jak Beardsworth. Contact him here.

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