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Footwork is the foundation of tennis technique

The tennis player, like a wolf, is “fed” by his legs. And if without an allegory, then the work of a tennis player’s feet is the most important component of his actions. The point is that most hitting mistakes are the result of poor footwork. Many believe that if they run fast and a lot, i.e. they move well around the court, which means they should not pay attention to footwork and shoes wear for tennis. However, a tennis player (especially a beginner) must understand that the eye is able to fix the beginning of the opponent’s racket movement and the direction of flight given to the ball, but it is impossible to visually accurately determine the trajectory (height and length) of the ball’s movement in advance. 

And in order to take the necessary position to meet the ball, the legs must correct the mistakes made by the eye. As a result, footwork involves not only the speed and activity of movement, but also the method of movement, and the approach to the ball (going out on the ball), and the setting of the legs when receiving the ball, and movement after hitting a new position. One of the famous American trainers, Jack W. Broudy, writes in his popular book The Real Spin on Tennis: “ Everyone wants to work on their arm movement and their style. and that’s about 75% of the players, both good and bad . 

” Another, no less famous American specialist Jack L. Groppel ( Jack L. Groppel), in his book High Tech Tennis, states that over 70% of tennis players’ mistakes are caused by poor footwork. Indeed, it is often possible to observe how a tennis player effectively performs a variety of strikes during the pre-match warm-up, but as soon as the game begins and he has to hit the ball in motion, these beautiful strikes immediately “fall apart”. Correct leg work ultimately allows you to execute an effective blow, otherwise our body, and especially our arms, will be bent in order to compensate for the wrong position. This is a fact, and the reasons may be different: lack of knowledge, poor physical fitness, or just laziness. Therefore, let’s start with theory and end with training exercises. Laziness – we will not discuss.

Footwork includes: 

  • ready position (starting stance); 
  • splitting; 
  • movement to the ball; 
  • execution of a blow; 
  • exit from the blow; 
  • moving to a tactically expedient position on the court.

Ready position When I ask my students to demonstrate a ready position, they casually show the following: both arms are bent at the elbows and hold the racket in front of them, the legs are slightly bent at the knee and hip joints and are approximately shoulder width apart, and the heels are firmly “glued” to the court. Oh, I also forgot to mention the smile on their face, indicating that this is an easy task for them. But it might be a good position to pose in front of the camera. The correct readiness position is all of the above (including a smile), but with one important addition – the support should be on the pads of the feet and the heels should not touch the court, and the body should move from side to side or up and down due to the legs. The point is that when the feet are firmly in contact with the surface of the court, the force between the shoe and the court is equal to the weight of the body. In other words, all the weight pulls the player down. 

This way, when your opponent kicks the ball, your first move will not be a reaction to the flying ball, but you will have to lift yourself up and move first. This movement is called “releasing the weight” and, if performed after your opponent has thrown the punch, you will lose a significant portion of the time devoted to preparing for the punch. Moving well from side to side or bouncing up and down between beats, tennis players already largely “get rid of the weight,” and once the opponent starts to stroke motion, it performs one of the most important elements of tennis equipment – split.

Split 

What is this element? A run is a balanced movement that represents a low bounce (with one or two kicks, depending on the previous movement), distributed in time in such a way as to be in an unsupported state (in the flight phase) at the moment when the opponent kicks the ball. If you want to make a bet, please, use Bet9ja login to get it. This makes it possible to change the position of the body in the direction of the upcoming strike or take a position for the strike (if there is no need to start moving around the court). If you foresee that the ball will fly in a lateral direction, then you should slightly turn the foot of the leg closest to the upcoming movement. Landing is carried out on toes, which allows you to instantly start a sharp movement towards the flying ball. The ability to start quickly is explained by the fact that the muscles of the legs of the player in the unsupported phase are relaxed, which allows, when interacting with the support, to perform a push of an “explosive” nature. This is facilitated by the increased kinetic energy of the body by the time of landing. When landing, the first one interacts with the support leg, opposite to the direction of movement, which transfers the body weight to the other leg (of the same name). The video shows Roger Federer’s kicks and footwork (slow motion).

The most important thing in timing is timing , in other words, timing. You need to start doing the splitting a split second before the contact of the opponent’s racket with the ball (before the sound from the impact). It takes 0.1-0.2 seconds to predict the opponent’s strike. And as soon as the direction of the blow is determined, a quick turn of the shoulders and hips begins in the direction of the flight of the ball. Within the time required for forecasting and the beginning of the reversal, the player is just outside the pivot. Undoubtedly, a well-timed cut is the most important factor in achieving the desired position on the court.

Moving to the ball 

When moving, there are ways to move the legs, based on: normal, side and cross steps. The choice of steps, their length and frequency depends on the specific game situation. For example, when moving sideways for a short distance, an additional step is used (lateral displacement is 60-80% of all movements on the court), it is also used when approaching most of the balls during the exchange of blows from the back line, and retreating to a deeply sent ball, in including with a candle, as a rule, it is carried out in cross steps, if you need to quickly change the direction of movement to the opposite, then the cross step is also done first. In the latter case, it is very important to make a strong kick with your foot before performing the cross step.

Combined modes of movement are often used. For example, first a side step, and then a normal step. The use of certain methods of movement in each individual case is unique for a tennis player due to the uniqueness of the game situation itself. The main thing during the movement is to maintain a low center of gravity. Typically, the further the ball is, the wider the stride, and the closer the ball, the shorter the stride. In addition, as soon as a player begins to approach the ball, his steps should become shallower and more frequent. Small, “regulating” steps, firstly, slow down the movement so as not to overshoot the optimal place of impact and, secondly, allow you to choose the right position of the legs for the execution of the blow, and therefore to take the correct impact position.

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