This seems like a minor detail, but it’s very important and can make or break your next shot.
Many players do not assume the correct ready position when they are waiting to hit the ball. The racquet should be directly in front of you with the racquet head above the height of your hands. If you have a two-handed backhand, both hands should be together on the grip. Most players have their dominant hand in the forehand grip position and the other hand in the backhand grip position. Your feet should be on the ground with your weight slightly on the balls of your feet. Try to keep your knees slightly bent and your balance neutral so you can react in any direction that the ball may end up.
Using a split-step just before the opponent swings at the ball will help with your balance. Try to get into the ready position just before your opponent strikes the ball. Hit your shot and return to that position again before your opponent's next shot. Do not let your racquet head drop or let your racquet drift towards your forehand or backhand side before your opponent hits.
Keep repeating these ideas and you will be amazed at how much better your reaction to the opponent's shot will be.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com in East Hampton, NY . Steve is also a tennis professional at Ventana Golf and Country Club in Tucson, AZ. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org