Names like Roger Federer, Justine Henin and Andre Agassi not only define what it means to play aggressive tennis, but they also reveal to us what one of the main ingredients is to their recipe of success: offensive footwork.
And when focusing on your strategy, there's one important offensive every player must know.
If you spend some time with me on court you might hear me refer to one of the offensive moves as the "hop-and-skip" step. This is my choice of footwork when players need to move forward on a low and short ball.
The hop step allows players to hit topspin on a ball they may surrender to with a defensive slice. In addition to being able to get underneath the ball and hit the topspin, players can also use it as a movement for transitioning into the net.
From world-class professional athletes to beginners, the hop step is an athletic move that everyone can learn and benefit from. Below are some key points to remember when using this footwork technique.
The Hop-and-Skip Step
1. The first steps to the ball are referred to as "power steps." These are the initial explosive, powerful movements toward the ball. Often the player makes the mistake of initially shuffling to the ball, which takes away time from preparation.
2. Prior to exploding forward with the hop, the player uses small adjustment steps, rhythm steps, to accurately establish their set position for the shot.
3. In a neutral stance, the player then rolls off the front foot with a little hop and steps down.
Being able to get in the right position and chose the optimal footwork allows you to strategically play aggressive tennis.
First Step Reaction
Another important technique that allows you to achieve explosive speed is to improve your first-step reaction. This allows you to cover the court in the time you have to work by utilizing a wider stance and appropriate footwork to quickly go from rest into motion. By establishing upper body momentum in the direction of movement, you allow your upper body to propel you into motion.
If you work on your first-step reaction, you're going to be able to create a lot more offensive opportunities to strike the ball you want to.
Nick Bollettieri has coached 10 players who have reached No. 1 in the world, including Andre Agassi, Boris Becker and Martina Hingis. To learn more, visit IMGAcademies.com.