Footwork: The Foundation for Success

Great tennis footwork is the key to great tennis, which is a fact too many players overlook.

I see far too many coaches and club players concentrating -- and in fact wasting too much time and energy -- on one or two particular shots.

It doesn't matter how good the shot potentially is if you never get yourself into a good position to hit it.

Before you read on, just back up for a minute and think about this: What exactly happens when you play?

  • You hit a great return off a good wide serve by your opponent.
  • You are moving him all over the court when all of a sudden your opponent attacks by deciding to come to the net.
  • You attempt a passing shot, but he makes a volley into the opposite corner and you head off to play a stunning running single-handed backhand pass down the line that a certain Mr. Federer would be proud of.

Stop pumping your fist for a moment and let's go over what just happened. You have just hit the ball eight times, but what did you do for the majority of the point? Move!

You moved to the ball to hit every shot and you moved to recover after hitting every shot.

The time spent hitting shots (never mind the actual time the ball spends on the strings) is only a fraction of the time spent moving to and away from your shots.

Is this reflected in the way you practice?

Every tennis shot starts from the ground up, so your feet are engaged long before the racket gets anyway near the ball.

Here are the top five reasons why improving your tennis footwork improves your game:

Greater Shot Power

Developing your footwork skills results in greater power in your shots for one very important reason: When you get to the ball and get set in a good position, you give youself the chance to hit the ball using as many body parts as you can.

If you don't, you end up hitting the ball off-balance or just using your arm.

Think about it like this, a boxer doesn't land a knockout punch by flicking out a jab. The knockout blow is always made by getting the feet in the right position so that all the bodyweight can go into the punch.

The same is true in tennis.

More Shot Options

Improving your tennis footwork gives you greater flexibility of shot choice because you get there earlier and in a better position.

You get to choose what stance you use to play the shot (open stance, closed stance, neutral etc).

You also get to choose where you play the shot and with what stroke -- crosscourt, down the line, backhand, forehand, deep or short, passing shot or lob, to name a few.

Without it, you will have fewer choices available and the choices you do have may well end up suffering from poor execution.

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