Tennis Lessons Takeaways

Dec 18, 2021
Tennis Lessons Takeaways
As I wrote about earlier, I’ve been taking beginner tennis lessons. Today was the last lesson of the season, though I signed up for the next 2 months in the new year.
Here are my notes and takeaways of things I learned and practiced:
  • There are two main grips
    • Forehand grip (semi-western grip)
      • like you’re holding a pan
      • used for strong hand swings
    • Continental grip (”everything else” grip
      • like you’re holding a hammer
      • used for serving, volleying, and backhand swings, and everything else
  • Don't hold the racket with a death grip. Treat it like you're holding a bird: secure enough so it won't get away, but loose enough that you don't crush it.
  • Swings can be practiced with ball tosses
    • Normal swings by holding a cone and tossing a ball from out of the cone - the key is a low-to-high motion to get the ball over the net
    • Serving is like pitching a baseball, but instead of straight, you’re throwing upwards
    • Volleying is like catching a ball one-handed
  • Volleys (hitting the ball without it bouncing on your side of the court)
    • step with opposite leg
    • for power, just step into it, don't swing
    • look at opponent's racket to get idea of where ball will go. Not enough time to think while at the net
  • Practiced swings and serves by trapping ball with racket against tarp to get a sense of where to hit it
    • windshield wipe motion for swings
    • backhand swing uses left hand to push, but keep both hands on racket
    • trophy and backpack positions for serves
      • can be practiced with a towel with a knot on one end. Swing it around without letting it fall slack. Start in front of you, to trophy, then backpack, then trophy, then “pitch”
      • you’d need to be 6'7" to hit down on a serve
  • Hitting the ball too long is a better mistake than too short into the net.
    • Hitting long can be fixed with fine-tuning.
    • Hitting short is a problem with fundamentals.
  • It's natural when focusing on technique to do worst at first. You have to think about stance, positioning, etc. instead of focusing on the ball, until the technique becomes natural
  • Cross-court shots are easier than down-the-line shots
    • can hit 4-5 ft further without going out of court
    • the net is inches lower where it sags in the middle
    • for down the line, push forward more with the racket before swinging through
  • Visualization
    • Visualize hitting the ball 2ft above net
    • Best to visualize aiming for the blue line (between the baseline and halfway line) because if the ball lands 2ft too long or short, you're good
    • When you make a mistake, that's the image in your head, and you'll keep making messing up, setting a pattern
      • best advice my coach received was to reset the visualization to what you want after a mistake, so that you don't keep making mistakes
    • when you see athletes sitting on bench with eyes closed, they're probably visualizing
  • Types of focus in the game
    • Unproductive focus - thinking about your technique
    • Productive focus - keep eye on ball, focus on the target where you plan to hit