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Understanding The Basics Of Tennis

Aug 18, 2007
The basics of the great game of tennis are few, yet require many hours of practice.

The purpose of tennis is to send the ball over the net to land within the boundaries of the opposite court in such a way that the opponent will have difficulty returning it. Ninety percent of tennis points are won on errors, i.e., balls hit into the net or out of court. A beginner must have faith that "good form" will pay dividends, once he gains control of his shots. A good-form stroke sends the ball more swiftly and accurately to spots on the court where the opponent will have the most difficulty in returning it.

Beginners are warned that they must be content with a goal of "getting the ball over the net" and not expect to hit special areas very often. Likewise the beginner will dwell in "Dubland" more often than he wants to. He must practise patiently, first to conquer the net and boundary lines so that his balls land somewhere within the court.

Later he will learn to control his shots. Although many of his shots will miss the target, it is better to try for them during practise than to be content with "Dubland" shots. It takes time to achieve tennis placement shots just as in the case of a 200-yard golf drive or bowling strike.

Your first assignment in learning good tennis strokes is to find out what they look like. Watch good players to get the mental image of the stroke, footwork, and body action. Next you must learn what the stroke feels like. This muscle-picture comes through imitating the form of good players.

Because it is very hard to watch oneself perform, the advice of a coach or good player is invaluable. However, it is important to imitate the strokes of a player who has the same body build as yours. Thus if you have long arms and legs, with a flexible trunk, don't try to imitate a short, heavy player.

The beginner should not be deceived by freak methods of stroking. There is sufficient freedom possible within a range of sound techniques. The reader is expected to use his common sense in working out the type of strokes which suits him best. Tennis is an individual game and skill is dependent upon the type of physique, mental, and emotional make-up of the player.

The big difference between men and women players is degree of strength. Naturally men players can hit the ball harder. Often women players make up for their lack of strength by greater accuracy. Court strategy differs only in the amount of net play used. Many women players cannot hit the ball hard enough to follow it to the net. Thus women's tennis is often characterized by being a baseline game with net trimmings, while men's tennis becomes a net game with baseline trimmings. The best women players are at the top because they play a man's game.

When you can make your opponent hit the ball into the net or out of court, you have a winning game. There is a limit to the force which can be placed on the ball, if it is to be accurately placed. Each learner must decide on a happy combination of force and accuracy, although good force must be used in good-form strokes. Good force does not mean trying to hit the cover off the ball, and home runs pay no dividends in tennis.

Research studies have shown that beginners frequently fail to hit the ball squarely in the center of the racquet because they do not watch the ball, or do not get the racquet behind the ball in time to aim it accurately. This is just one of the many basics which must be practised.

Tennis is a wonderful game and well worth all the hours you can spend to increase your skill. Good luck!
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