The single most crucial factor for a good hit in tennis is contact. If you start with a goal of exactly where you would like to hit the ball in relation to your body, you may focus on efforts to get into this position.
While the preparation and finish for different players will vary, the contact is remarkably similar. Slightly in front of your body, knee to waist high, is the ultimate strike zone for groundstrokes -- with a two-handed backhand being stuck slightly later than the forehand. The same is true on volleys, overheads and serves. Getting too close to the ball is one of the most common errors for club players, often resulting in a condensed “chicken wing” finish and a short ball, shank or even arm pain.
The goal is to find your ideal contact point and strike zone to produce a firm hit. A simple drill to create a longer hitting zone and solid shot is to pose on your back toe after the shot. Work with a Coach, friend, or ball machine to toss balls to you on the baseline. Concentrate on aligning your body with the ball for the proper contact and visualize an exceptionally long swing where you carry the ball extending 24 to 30 inches on your racket. No chicken wings! Posing on your back toe will lengthen your hitting zone with the wonderful byproduct of properly transferring your weight for an effortless swing and solid result.
Try this drill even if you are an open stance player, to reinforce hitting out and through the ball. Posing on your toe is great for volleys as well. Strike the ball in front of your body with attention to your back foot, and you will be hitting solid deep shots in no time.
Mike Puc has been the Director of Tennis at Gleneagles Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla. since 1998. A winner of 15 national titles and an ATP world ranking, Mike directs 25 teams with 350 players in nine leagues, while offering the most extensive Calendar of Events in South Florida that includes tournaments, lectures and social round-robins.