Jumping groundstrokes, back leg moving through the air, say it isn’t so, right? Perhaps I’m a tad liberal, but I absolutely encourage talented tennis players to buck the odds and ‘go for broke.
It’s my line of reasoning that the great game of tennis never really appealed to the masses from the first exposure to the game to about 1975 because of the conservative coaching methods. In particular, I firmly believe that coaches stifled the then new players with either the Continental or Eastern grips; as it was not comfortable for many beginners.
Whereas in today’s world, we offer a Semi-Western or Western grip which is user-friendly for the masses and thus the player may taste early success. When a beginner is able to jumpstart his or her progress, he or she will often find the desire to play more. As a result, he or she will likely improve rapidly.
Not only did coaches limit our then new players with grip choices but they also wantedthe player’s follow-through to stop at a given point and control the player’s stance during the stroke. If we break it down, the player had a confining handle on the racket, a fixed finish with both their racket and their feet. In other words, players appeared almost robotic, limiting their natural athletic ability.
This antiquated approach did not allow enough flexibility to truly develop outstanding, unique tennis players.
Nowadays, innovative coaches continue to incorporate new methods which enhance the game for both the beginner and the experienced competitor.
When I’m coaching well coordinated youngsters to hit their approach shots, I urge the athlete to drive through the stroke and shoot the back pivot leg forward.
In other words, instead of slowing down the hard-charging tennis player so he or she can retain his or her balance and finish in normal fashion, I encourage the competitor to pick up the back foot and let it come through. So, if I have a right-handed tennis player, he or she is allowedto finish on his or her right leg – – it will be preferable to highly ranked participants.
Additionally, I strongly support my rising stars to jump and accelerate for their forehand blast.
All things considered, we have to make the game as fun as possible. In this fast paced world where kids learn information with one quick click, it’s imperative to be creative, entertaining, and emotionally exciting to keep their interest.
On the whole, my coaching style is to allow players to express themselves with their distinctive athletic ability. I am a believer that there is often more than one way to do something, so why not let rising tennis stars explore their creative minds?
Since 2000, Doug Browne was the Collier County Pro of the Year three times, and has been a USPTA pro in the area for 28 years. Doug was also honored in the International Hall of Fame (Newport, Rhode Island) as Tennis Director during the 2010 summer season. Doug has been writing about tennis for the last 19 years.