Move like Federer with this 5-step strategy
1. Leave your racquet in your bag
When learning or working on a footwork pattern you need to start off slowly and without a racquet to help you program the movement into your brain and muscles. Follow the progression enough and you will be soon be able to recall the movements at warp speed.
Move in a slow and controlled manner to play a shadow shot before returning (again slowly and controlled) to your start position. Use a couple of cones or something similar for the start and ball strike positions to give you an added focus. Repeat 20 times
2. Racquet, No ball
Repeat step 1 but this time have a racquet in your hand. Again, focus on keeping your movements controlled and rhythmic both to the imaginary ball and back to your start position. With the racquet in your hand you can focus a touch more on the actual shot. Repeat 20 times
3. Introduce the Ball
Repeat step two. This time, have a partner drop a ball for you to hit. If you don't have a partner, then drop a ball for yourself out of your non-dominant/racquet hand. Hit the ball to a pre-determined target across the net and return to the start position, making sure to focus on your tennis footwork. Repeat 20 times
4. Pick Up the Pace
Repeat steps two and three. This time have a partner feed you balls from across the net at a comfortable pace. Again, hit each ball to a pre-determined target across the net and return to the start position. Repeat 20 times
5. Full Speed Ahead
Here is where you put yourself to the test. This time you need to try and play at "normal" rally speed. Don't try to hit winners. Try not to think too much about what you need to do with your footwork. If you've followed steps one through four, your feet will know what to do. (it will slow you down).....just let it happen!!
This progression will work for any shot you decide to improve (with a couple of possible modifications) and it's a footwork drill that you can do almost entirely on your own. Start working more tennis footwork routines into your schedule and see how quickly your game and fitness improves.
One final note: During the next big professional tennis match, don't watch the ball. Instead, try watching and listening to their feet.
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