Overcoming the time puzzle...

'She has so much time!...'

So often a comment I hear around the club when club players are watching some some of our coaches or top juniors play.

How can we develop more 'time on the ball' and look calm and un-hurried as we play our shots?  Well, good anticipation and reading of the oncoming ball (particularly direction and depth), great movement initiated by a well-timed split step (see the last few posts) and good tactical understanding of how to control time and space (hit higher and slower when out of position for example and reposition well to bisect the angle of your opponent's best two replies) are good places to start.

These are important parts in solving the 'time' puzzle, but let's get down to looking at the 'P' in R.E.S.P.E.C.T shall we? 

The one thing I'll see time and time again (no pun intended) is late Preparation, particularly in beginner and intermediate standard players but also at higher levels where players just develop better coping mechanisms to hide this flaw in their games.  There is of course is a natural tendency to want to 'get to the ball' as quickly as possible but doing so without preparing and readying the racket as we move can have catastrophic effects on the outcome of the shot. 

So, work on 'move and prepare' whereby we learn to turn our shoulders and torso (know as a 'unit turn') to set the racket in place as we move, rather than 'move then prepare'.  A good measure is to ensure your racket head is behind your hitting shoulder as the ball bounces on your side of the court.  The speed of the oncoming ball of course will determine adaptations to this, but not a bad general rule to follow to 'set up well and in time' for your next shot.

Here's a nice example of Felix Auger Aliassime that I took at Wimbledon's practice courts a couple of years ago showing his early preparation on two different forehands.

I begin to explore this in today's one-minute video that you may want to check out.