Good form in tennis, as in swimming, golf, or other sports activities, is a variable quality which defies definition. It appears in various shapes according to the personality and physique of the individual player. The terms that apply to good form tennis stroke production are ease, rhythm, balance, efficiency, power.
ACCURACY and SPEED are essential in the good stroke. Players achieve these qualities in their strokes by devious methods. The types of strokes that seem most natural and suit their physiques and personalities are best. An example of variation in a “good form” tennis stroke is the use of the circular and the straight backswing. It is more natural for some players to lift their racquets back, as in preparation for batting or throwing a baseball.
For others, the natural back-swing will be a straight throw-back of the racquet, at the height at which they intend to hit the ball. We see national champions of both varieties, although the majority of the top notch players use the circular backswing. Another variation is the amount of wrist action used in a stroke. Some players use a great deal of wrist snap with rather a short arm swing. Others use a long arm sweep with less wrist action. The important thing is to have a swift, low drive that lands deep in the backcourt.
As long as the strokes are accurate and forceful, and the player is well balanced, untiring and efficient, we may say “good form” is present in his tennis game.
Learning to “stroke” the ball is the chief objective for a beginner. It can be aimed more accurately and sent more forcefully if it is carried forward on the racquet strings in the desired direction.
A momentary impact of ball on racquet, which results when the racquet jabs at the ball, gives neither an accurate nor a forceful ball flight. Players who have formed the habit of “hitting” at the ball — if they continue to “jab” — they fail to improve with practise. The “stroke” must be used if such students wish to emerge from the mire of inaccurate and ineffectual play.
The beginner’s strokes should be the embryonic form of the advanced strokes. The concentration is on the principles of good form with expectations of increased accuracy and speed as the student masters the stroke. Patience is the watchword.
Accuracy in a tennis stroke depends primarily upon the racquet face angle at the time of contact with the ball. If the racquet faces upward, the ball goes upward, etc. The adjustment of the racquet face angle, to the ball is learned unconsciously. The more times the player hits the ball, the more accurate he should become. However, if a player learns strokes with which accuracy is difficult to achieve, he may show little improvement.
Very few beginners who use “jabbing” strokes ever develop into good tennis players. This type of stroke is characterized by elbow action, and the ball position in front of the head or shoulders. The racquet swings in a downward direction, and many netted balls result. The best stroke is the horizontal arm swing, involving shoulder joint action, so that the racquet is facing the desired ball flight during the forward swing. In this stroke the same muscular action may be used in stroking a shoulder, waist, or knee high ball. Continue reading