Over and over again, she pounds the ball from the point, drilling it into the far corner, a near corner, just beyond the net, and everywhere else that might represent a real shot in an upcoming match.
Power. If every tennis player magically increased their power, then the game wouldn’t really change. It’s the discrepancies in power from player to player that makes tennis so compelling to watch and difficult to master.
The problem is that many tennis power hitters rely exclusively on their ability to overpower their opponents. When they’re matched up with quicker players who play a patient, organized game, it can often spell trouble if their power game can’t handle the adversity all on its own.
Here are five areas of skill even the most powerful of power hitters should address this summer.
There’s no substitute for speed. Even though it’s impossible to compare speed to power, let’s try anyways: possessed in equal parts, speed is more valuable than power. If a player can combine both assets, that’s when the truly special athlete is created. This summer, perform drills that require movement before setting up a big shot.
How to we achieve faster feet? It starts in the middle of the body, in your core. Every muscle is attached to your core, this is the centre from which all movement originates. With a strong core, you can adapt more quickly on your feet and your arms will have more energy to move and commit to your power game. Develop your hips, lower back and quads and not only will you move faster, the velocity on your shots will improve as well.
As we work our way out from the core to the perimeter, improving the strength in your chest, shoulders and arms will give you the final boost you need to destroy the ball with each shot. It’s important to perform exercises that not only add strength, but add mobility, as well, in order to avoid injury. The smoother your joints operate when under stress, the easier the difficult shots will become. Neat, right?
Now that we’ve got fast feet and rock solid strength throughout the entire body, it’s time to push ourselves. I recently spoke with the North Shore Winter Club’s own Angie Walker, and she told me that part of reaching the next level in her game was taking risks, like attacking the net. Playing a volley game at the net will reduce the amount of time you have to make decisions, but it will force the same upon your opponent. You might get beat a few times, but it’s part of adjusting to a faster, more aggressive style to compliment your power game.
When you’re not attacking the net, you’ll have more time to focus on clean, efficient groundstrokes. This style of game will let you slowly dismantle your opponent and set you up for the powerful shots you know and love so much. It’s all part of becoming a well rounded tennis player - if you can master both topspin and backspin shots while you dictate the movement of your opponent, then you’ll constantly keep them guessing as to what you’re going to do next.
Whether you stick to a power game or a technical one, commanding the game and commanding your opponent are one and the same. It’s great to have a strong power component to your style of play, but if you can add other dangerous weapons to your arsenal, then you’ll simply have more tools with which you can beat your opponent.
And hey, the scoresheet doesn’t remember how you won, just that you won, right?