Tip of the Week Archive

   The touring tennis pros make it look so easy. They get to most every ball and hit  it back
with explosive power. They can hit great shots from anywhere on the court. The reason it
looks so easy is because of balance.
   I think Roger Federer has become the number one player in the world because of his
balance. He stands above most players because of his ability to be in a “balanced�
position to hit most every shot. He is smooth and graceful to watch.
   Balance in tennis is important because of three important reasons.
   First a player in balance has minimal head movement which means his or her eyes are
steady and can focus on the ball better. Try hitting a tennis ball with your head bouncing
around and you’ll be lucky just to make contact. Since your eyes are in your head it is
imperative that the head remains as still as possible so your eyes can read the ball’s
spin, speed and direction. Likewise, keeping your head upright is also important for the eyes
to do their job. Have you ever tried to drive your car or catch a ball with your head tilted? Your
depth perception is impaired which can make you miss calculate the tennis balls speed and
distance. So keep your head upright and still as possible right before contact.
   Secondly, balance is important for power. In order for a tennis player to be able to hit a
tennis ball with velocity and even control, the body must be ready to transfer body weight and
use body rotational force. A balanced body is better prepared to utilize it’s strength. Iâ
€™ve always said that power in tennis comes from the ground-up. This means the primary
source of power is the legs. If your legs are not underneath your body (off balance!), your
sacrificing a lot of power. Also note here that a lowered center of gravity produces better
balance, so “bend your knees!�
   Thirdly, I see balance as an important part of recovery after a shot is made. The more
balanced you are after your shot the better you’ll be at changing direction to recover for
the next shot. Keeping your “head between your toes� is an expression that literally
means, balance. Your body must be balanced in order to move.
  Balance is a practiced habit so concentrate on keeping a “still headâ€� and your  â
€œhead between your toes.â€� Maybe we can see more Roger Federer’s on the tour.

Doug Hofer, USPTA      March 8, 2004