At every ITF event at the Rafa Nadal Academy, there is always a coaching session and it is always one of the highlights of the week (pictured below, the class of 2019!). The coaches are extremely friendly and approachable and also great teachers. Here is what we learned this week (when not distracted by the European Hot Air Balloon Championships which sailed overhead!).
Technique in general
- Whatever your level, you can always improve your technique and therefore your performance
- Keep it simple and fluid. No strange movements!
- Your racket follows the line of the ball
- Rotate your shoulders!
- Make sure your stance is stable
- Prepare! As soon as the ball is over the net, prepare for the appropriate stroke
- Hit the ball with the top third of the racket, not the middle; you will get more power and can hit deeper
- Bend your knees. Don’t drop your head and your chest which will compromise the stroke. You need a very strong lower back in tennis
- Lower the racket before you hit, so you hit under the ball
- Rotate, rotate, rotate!
- Whatever the stroke, you always use two hands in tennis. For a (righthanded) forehand, point towards the ball with your left hand, as if you were going to catch it
- The contact point is in front of your body
- Transfer your weight as you hit the ball
- The most important – and the most difficult - things are the toss and the timing
- Your left foot (for right handers) points at the net post on your right. This remains the same whichever side you are serving to
- Practise the toss without your racket. Throw the ball up with a straight arm and release at eye level. It should land in front of your left foot. Repeat until it does!
- Do the same thing, then catch the ball with your right hand. You should not have to move!
- Keep your left arm up and extended as long as possible. If you bring it down too soon, your body will be pulled forewards and you won't be able to complete the stroke properly
- As you take the racket back, the face that will hit the ball should face your body the whole time
- Hit the ball with a fully extended arm, never a bent one
- Hit the ball just as it is beginning to fall
- Build up the elements of the serve in stages; when you can, start bending the knees as you toss the ball
- When ball at its highest, you are at your lowest, with bent knees; this is the trophy position
- Then use your legs to jump up to the ball and hit it.