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Footwork
By: Andrew S. Rosz

South Florida Professional Tennis Instruction
Hollywood, Florida
, USA
(954) 922-8040

FOOTWORK BASICS

When several steps are required in chasing down a ball, two general rules can be applied.

  1. When moving toward the ball: The first step is made with the leg closest to the ball. That is, if you are about to move toward a forehand, move the right leg first.
  2. When moving away from the ball: The first step is made with the leg closest to the ball but this is where sideways and backward stepping is commonly required. Since this is more difficult than moving toward the ball, react quickly and move SLOWLY to maintain your sense of balance. If you balance is lost, not only do you loose control of your shot, but you also risk personal injury due to a fall and/or a twisted ankle.

When not having to move at all to chase down a ball, that is, when only a TM2 sideways rotation is required, only two steps are necessary. Step one is to move the leg on the same side of the hitting side first. Specifically, move this leg (and foot) behind the other foot when beginning the body rotation. Step two is to move the other leg so that it's knee is facing four o'clock on forehands (or eight o'clock on backhands). In this position, both knees should be slightly bent. This concept is the TM2 compliment for the two-step stroke technique of TM1. In summary, step backward first, then step to the side. NEVER step forward into your shots unless more than two steps are necessary.


GENERAL CONCEPTS OF FOOTWORK

  1. Footwork and the forward stroke: This concept was covered in the "Form and Balance" lesson.
  2. Which leg to move first: As a general rule, move the leg closest to the ball first.
  3. When to begin to move: As soon as humanly possible. This means react quickly so you can get to the ball with plenty of time to spare.
  4. How to move: Move smoothly without forceful steps. When moving sideways or backward, crouch down slightly to lower your center of gravity.
  5. Heel-toe vs. toe-only stepping: Most steps are done with the body weight on the front of the feet (toe-only stepping). This allows for efficient pivoting and proper positioning of the feet. Heel-toe stepping is appropriate only in extreme running situations.
  6. The quantity of steps: As a general rule, the fewer the better. Minimizing your steps will help you to conserve energy.
  7. The size of the step: Whatever is comfortable for you. Keep in mind however that smaller steps are generally more controllable than larger steps.
  8. Accelerating the body: Do so smoothly. Begin with short steps, then make the steps longer.
  9. Slowing down the body: Do so gradually. Always end with a sequence of at least two or three very small steps to "fine tune" proper position and balance.
  10. Tennis shoes: Wear the shoes out, don't wear your feet out. This means play tennis without concern over soiling your pretty new shoes. Tennis is demanding on both shoes and rackets.

Note: Each of the tennis tips outlined above are more fully discussed in a series of expertly-written tennis instruction training manuals and book publications for players who prefer to be "self-taught."  For more information on our world-renowned SFPTI tennis instruction training manuals and book publications CLICK HERE.

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