Finding one’s Balance on court, is Key!
In one weeks time, during a tennis program with adults I repeat the word “Balance & Left Hand out” (right handers) 100’s of times.
Why? Because your balance is key and using that non-dominant left hand to help facilitate it is GOLD.
We all come at this game with varying degrees of athleticism and technical prowess. Some players are naturally balanced on court, while others need to work at it a little more.
For this reason I go mad when I hear some coaches teaching beginner – intermediate players – only open stance shots!! Especially those not hyper gifted in the athleticism department.
Open stance requires a good degree of timing – rotation – and balanced recovery. The beginning years of the game should be used to get the player to move the body forwards on the shot learning balance with a moving ball, preferably in neutral stance.
- The feet
- The non-dominant hand
- Static & dynamic balance
- The head
1# The Feet
Let’s start with the feet. Players should understand that tennis is dominated by small steps or ‘adjusting steps’ right up until we strike the ball.
If you are too far or too close to the ball you are off balance.
When you are off balance you won’t connect with the sweet spot and will have no control over the ball.
If you’re off balance, you’re opponent may take this opportunity to close the point or take control. I would 🙂
Your feet should put you into a somewhat lower playing height in preparation for the ball.
When players aren’t focused on balance, many times they’re unable to feel or see the ball well and miss that nice solid center of gravity position on contact.
I see players running all over the place without focusing on balance. You must recognize & start moving towards the ball as soon as the ball leaves your opponent’s racquet, then position yourself with adjusting steps and try to stop just before hitting the ball.
Many players hit the ball on the run when there is no need, losing balance and not being able to recover well.
2# The importance of the non-dominant hand
Next is using the non-dominant hand for forehand shots to get you balanced on court. This is Super important and every time I advise players and they actually do it, they find great success!
This left hand plays a huge role! It helps to load up a forehand, balance out a one handed backhand, balance volleys & set up an overheads and of course, serve. It also helps create space between you and the ball while you track the incoming ball (on your forehand) keeping you hyper focused on it.
There isn’t one professional player on tour not using it so it shouldn’t be the first time you’ve seen it.
Think about it – if a racquet in one hand is positioned on one side of the body something needs to counter the balance on the other side. This is it!
I talk about this in detail in my post about “What to do with the other hand”.
Download the Balance Cheat Sheet below:
3# Static & Dynamic Balance
Static balance is when a player is naturally balanced while hitting. And at the beginning levels of the game, this is your goal! Getting to the ball & using adjustment steps as your final positioning steps – just before contact.
For instance hitting in neutral stance, stepping in and swinging through a shot bringing your right foot from back to front? Great idea! It’s basically saving you a lot of work using a ‘recovery step’.
Dynamic balance comes later when players advance and actually hit shots in the air due to racquet head speed – generated through the legs – body rotation – and landing balanced on your feet.
4# Lastly the head. Keep it Still!
Whether you’re a fan of Roger Federer or not we love to watch this guy do what he does with a tennis ball. He’s like a ballet dancer with a racquet in hand. Ever notice how still and long he keeps his head & eyes on contact with the ball? His eyes are perfectly poised on the ball keeping his body and racquet face still & solid through contact. Cameras capture it perfectly!
Ever wondered why you’re hitting the frame so often instead of the sweet spot?
Work on keeping the head still on contact and it will help enhance your balance on court.
Sounds simple enough right? Yet again, this game tests us even on little things like balance, which happens to be massively important on contact with a tennis ball.
So as balance is key in our lives it’s also gold on court~