Tag Archives: online tennis instruction

SMT Daily Tip #5: Work on Your Sharp-Angled Shots!

If you want to take your defensive game – and even offensive game – to the next level, learning how to hit sharp angles is very valuable.

Being able to hit sharp-angled cross-court forehands and backhands gives you a major advantage against net players. With such a shot in your arsenal, you can pass them with ease and shatter their net-approach tactic.

(This video example may be a little extreme but gets the point across)

(Also check out the point starting at 2:00)


On top of that, being able to hit this shot enables you to hit winners that you’ve never been able to really hit before. Even if you end up not hitting a winner with this shot, you can pull your opponent way off the court which will give you absolute dominance over the point from then on.

(Check out the point at 1:36)

As you can see, being able to hit sharp angles will definitely up your whole game, so I highly encourage that everyone makes an effort to practice this shot and eventually have it be a part of your arsenal. Go out on the court and give it a go!

Feel free to leave any questions; I will be glad to answer them!

Why Rafael Nadal Struggles Against Novak Djokovic

Nadal’s nightmare is a man with an aggressive game(remember his matches with Soderling and Del Potro in ‘09). In fact, Nadal’s worst nightmare in recent time has become Djokovic because of how consistently he executes his aggressive game.

Djokovic spreads the court extremely well, and he is probably the best at this currently on tour. His ability to change direction off both sides is phenomenal and this does incredible amounts of damage to Nadal especially when Djokovic plays close to the baseline.

Nadal is known for playing rather far back so that means if his depth is off that day, Djokovic will be all over him baseline-wise since he plays close to the baseline and can comfortably take shots on the rise.

When talking groundstrokes, no question does Djokovic possess the better backhand

  • His backhand rarely ever breaks down and can easily produce winners, which Nadal is not used to because the backhand is usually where he attempts to draw errors.
  • He has a very solid high backhand shot which further puts Nadal at a disadvantage since this eliminates one of his go-to strategies (pounding the backhand with his heavy-spin forehand).
  • His ability to go down the line sets him up perfectly to avoid Nadal’s forehand. Doing this enables him to have the forehand vs backhand exchange. This is what Djokovic looks for because his forehand is a more solid stroke compared to Nadal’s backhand.

Although not as good as his backhand, Djokovic has a solid forehand

  • He handles Nadal’s heavy-spin forehand most of the times comfortably
  • His forehand is very versatile. Can spin and flatten with power as he pleases and does so intelligently.

What makes Djokovic even more difficult to defeat is that not only does he possess a strong aggressive game, but he has incredible defense as well. With that combo combined with his fitness, that means Djokovic can even go toe-to-toe with Nadal in lengthy and grueling rallies constantly shifting from offense to defense.

Although Djokovic has great defense, that’s not his main strategy against Nadal; it is to be as consistently aggressive as he can. Being able to execute his aggressive playing style against Nadal frequently – unless Nadal is stepping up and playing close to the baseline – Djokovic will be in control of most of the rallies pressuring Nadal. If you view the highlights of their match in the final of Monte Carlo in 2013, you will see how Djokovic always tries to position himself close to the baseline and why Nadal has such a difficult time effectively responding. Against each other, what seems to be a huge factor in who is going to win the match is court position. In the video, you will see that Djokovic is hugging the baseline while Nadal is a couple feet behind the baseline in most points. Because of this situation, the balls are coming back towards Nadal quicker, leaving him less time to load up his vicious forehand or run around his backhand. In addition, the effectiveness of his forehand along with his backhand decrease as well, which of course, gives more time to Djokovic to execute his shots. They both in fact spread the court beautifully; it is just the players’ court positions that gives Djokovic the upper edge.

So what is there left to do for Nadal at this point when

  1. His “go to the backhand” strategy does not work
  2. His court position is weak compared to Djokovic
  3. Djokovic has a consistent aggressive game along with his fine defense

In reality it is rather simple, Nadal either has to just be more aggressive by playing closer to the baseline (he does not really need to amp up his groundstrokes – especially the forehand – for they are penetrating enough) or he must laboriously grind out the points and out-rally Djokovic, which is definitely not the recommended tactic considering his knees. Ultimately, being passive against Djokovic will most of the time not work out, so the better and probably braver route is to definitely be aggressive against him.

Breakdown of Marcos Baghdatis Forehand (Modern Technique)

ANDRE AGASSI SAYS HE PRIMARILY USES HIS RIGHT HAND ON THE TWO-HANDED BACKHAND

From reading through many threads and videos on the two-handed backhand, the majority of people argue that the two-handed backhand is basically a lefty forehand.

However, tennis-legend, Andre Agassi, who possesses one of the best two-handed backhands in the game, says otherwise.

Andre Agassi: “I hit my backhand primarily with my right hand.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcZFVQCfOQg – He states this after the point at the 12 minute mark)

I initially did not believe Andre Agassi knew what he was talking about due to the fact that many people said otherwise, but after experimenting with the technique and observing a lot of slow motion footage, it seems after all, Agassi knows what he’s saying. How could I have ever doubted him?

It’s understandable that his statement will yield different interpretations. People will think that you lead with the right hand throughout the entire shot; however, this is not what he meant by primarily using his right hand.

The right hand is the key to produce leverage. Leverage is achieved when the buttcap of the racket is pointed at the ball and the right hand is what gets you into that position.

The use of the right hand happens during the forward swing phase. From the takeback, notice how the left hand is leveled higher than the right hand.

Left hand leveled higher than right hand

Now in the forward swing, the right hand will be dominant. When beginning the forward swing and uncoiling the body, the positions change; the right hand drops, causing the left hand to fall below it. Here, proper leverage has been achieved.

Right hand drops, left hand falls below the right.

All of this is what Agassi meant by him “primarily using his right hand.”

Though, in the end, as a result of the uncoiling, the left-hand will propel forward naturally and strike through the ball.

It makes sense for people to say that the two-handed backhand is similar to a lefty forehand because the left-hand is what really strikes the ball, but the forward swing phase and use of the right hand is what makes it not exactly like a lefty forehand. The right hand plays a key role in creating leverage and that is why Agassi says that the best backhanders in the world  use their right hand in the shot.

Also check out my video talking about the key to leverage on the two-handed backhand:

Feel free to leave questions and suggestions for future videos and articles!

NOVAK DJOKOVIC’S VERSATILE FOREHAND

 

Being able to control topspin and trajectory on the forehand is crucial in today’s game. A great forehand is a versatile forehand!

The amount of spin on the ball is determined by the amount of upward motion you apply with your racket to the ball.

 

 

Which player will impart more spin? The player with the buttcap pointing diagonally upwards to the ball. The straighter the buttcap is to the ball, the flatter the shot will be.

Though, people argue that it is a hassle to constantly think how diagonally they have to point the buttcap so here’s an easier alternative: the type of follow through.

Djokovic is a prime example. He uses three follow-throughs on his forehands: by the shoulder, over the shoulder, and the reverse follow-through. He is probably the player on tour who employs three different follow-throughs on his forehand during a match the most.

By the shoulder

Djokovic’s by the shoulder follow through is normally used for more aggressive flat trajectory shots. He will often use this forehand on sitters, high balls, and balls he deems worth punishing.

Over the shoulder

Djokovic’s over the shoulder follow-through is typically used for a safer and more-spin net clearance shot. He tends to use this follow-through a lot when grinding out points. You will often see him go cross-court with this forehand. He can also create good angles with this shot.

 

Reverse

Djokovic’s reverse follow-through is often used when he is late with the ball and/or when he is going for a lot of spin. This shot is very effective in creating sharp angles/heavy bouncing balls and is a very safe shot. However, this should not be your standard forehand rally ball because this shot is not as penetrating and will tend to give short balls to your opponent.

Each of these follow-throughs produces different effects on the ball. The ability to use all three will give you a variety of options with your forehand, allowing you to better construct points. Djokovic has improved a lot in this aspect of the forehand which is one of the things that has greatly attributed to his success in recent years.

Check out Djokovic’s matches:

ONE THING THAT REALLY MAKES KEI NISHIKORI A DANGEROUS TENNIS PLAYER?

Besides Nishikori’s great mental fortitude, what attributes mostly to his success is the style by which he plays. There are many aspects of his game that are good, but the one that stands out the most is this…

His ability to play close to the baseline

The reason why this style is so effective because tennis is really a game of cutting time away from your opponent.

Say you are hitting your shots at a constant pace and you are five feet behind the baseline. What difference would it make if you were two feet behind the baseline? The amount of time you are cutting away from your opponent: his time to load and time to get to the ball. He will be running from corner to corner more if you were two feet behind the baseline versus five feet behind the baseline.

If you were five feet behind the baseline, the way  to equal the amount of effect you apply when two feet behind the baseline is by upping your pace enough to match that effect. For example, Robin Soderling has crushing ground strokes, but he does not as play close to the baseline as does Novak Djokovic. However, because of his power, he is able to keep up with Djokovic being close to the baseline.

But what if you upped your pace and played closer to the baseline? You will  be adding even more pressure to your opponent now.

One thing to note though; to play close to the baseline, you must be quick on your feet and Kei Nishikori is a perfect example.

Nishikori plays this style remarkably well, which is one of the reasons why he has respectfully earned his way into the top 10.

Nishikori is able to accomplish this ability because of his compact AND powerful strokes on both wings, forehand and backhand. His compact strokes allows him to take less time to load which makes it easier for him to play closer to the baseline. Also, the fact that he can produce firepower in his groundstrokes is a major plus for his style of play. With his power, he is putting tremendous pressure on his opponents, blowing them from corner to corner and greatly taking their precious time away to load properly.

Similar to his ground game, Nishikori will always try to take time away from his opponent when returning his serve, especially the second serve. If the shot is placed with good depth and placement as well, this will put more pressure on your opponent and give you control over the point in the very beginning. With his great returns, he is able to break his opponents more often than most players.

Nishikori, being a specialist at taking time away, is a difficult player to beat. You will see him often times effortlessly hitting winners past you and behind you. In addition, because of the tremendous pressure he applies, you will see him many times following up with a volley to end the point knowing that you will float him one. With his swiftness and aggressive playing style, he is a force to be reckoned with on the ATP world tour.

Check out his style in play by looking him up on youtube! Or check out these links here:

[Tennis] Start Winning More #1

One of the most important things in tennis that will allow you to win more matches is depth on your ground strokes. Tennis is a game of taking advantage of openings and a huge opening indicator is the infamous short ball that lands on the service land. Once such a shot is noticed and taken advantage of, you are in a disadvantage. You gave your opponent the opportunity to change the momentum of the point and put it in his favor. You are now on the run and defense.

Hitting all your shorts with as much depth as consistently possible is what separates the great from the good. With depth, you give your opponent less room to attack, keeping the rally neutral until someone finally falls their ball short or goes for an aggressive shot from behind the baseline.

If you think about it, watch the matches that Rafael Nadal loses and wins against Djokovic. Whenever Nadal loses to Djokovic, he is usually outplayed in the depth game. The matches that Djokovic wins are those he was able to consistently put depth into his shots compared to Nadal. And when Nadal is getting his depth on his shots, he is an almost unstoppable force with the topspin he generates off his forehand.

Usually, the matches that Nadal loses are when he is unable to keep proper depth on his shots.