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One Bounce To The Fence


The great coach Harry Hopman was a firm believer in telling you where he wanted the ball to land and how it should travel there. (Harry was also a firm believer in putting 50 boys at the top of the building and the first one down was your "man"). He strayed away from technique whenever possible because he understood there were many different ways to hit the ball. Throughout tennis history, players have consistently demonstrated slight variations in their technique, but what always remains true is where the ball lands and how it travels there for the type of shot you are trying to execute.

If Andre Agassi asked you to practice tomorrow, would you be able to give him a solid practice? Any top level junior, college player, or minor league professional would give him a great practice. In the warmup, Andre shouldn't be moving too far too the right or left, or front or back. A common issue that arises with aspiring players is the lack of control. Often times, the ball you hit will bounce twice before it reaches the opposing baseline. If Andre were hitting with you, he would have to move into no-man's land and scoop this ball at his ankles.

A good habit to get into is to be aware of this issue and try to get the ball in one bounce to your practice partner (If you are hitting the ball short on purpose, that's another story). One way to develop a deeper, heavier rally ball is to try to get the ball in one bounce to the fence. It takes more height and/or power to have the ball travel in one bounce to the fence.

Another simple equation to consider:

HEIGHT (over the net) + SPIN = DEPTH

There is nothing more frustrating to a good player than having to run into no-man's land to scoop balls from his ankles in the warmup. A ball should never bounce twice before the baseline in the warmup. In addition, there is nothing more frustrating than working on your volleys from the baseline. Although good players should be able to handle ankle scrapers in no-man's land, on the run forehands, and volleys at shoulder height from the baseline- but this isn't an "ideal" practice for a world class player in warmup, let alone anyone at the local club.

Go practice your control, Harry Hopman style, and get the ball to the fence after one bounce.

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