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Last call for the gotta play tennis podcast

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Episode 11: If it's French, then it must be good

The French Open has history, drama, and some spectacular tennis.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

REFLECTIONS...3D vision without the glasses

Sometimes people have revelations in their game while they are playing or just afterwards. My hitting partner Freddie had just such an epiphany after a particularly rocky-to-incredible tennis session this week. I describe it this way because neither of us were hitting the ball particularly well when we began hitting, but we had both reached a plateau later that had us both scratching our heads as to where these shots were coming from. Basic shots were missed early on, and now we were hitting winners from all positions on the court.

Afterwards, Freddie mentioned an observation in his own game. He said that sometimes he only saw the ball, other times only the court, and then only me. But when he felt that he was seeing the bigger picture, and putting all of these things in perspective, his shots reflected the best he could hit. When he said this, it immediately struck me as to how profound these statements were about the game of tennis and our ability to control it in our own personal space. 

Seeing the ball relates to technique and our ability to use our unit turn, shoulders as power and direction generator, and forehand or backhand routine. Seeing the court is tied to movement and our approach to the ball using long strides to get there and short adjustment steps to position ourselves in the right striking zone. And seeing only me–his opponent–in his sights, means that he is mentally aware of strategic shotmaking and ball placement relative to my position on the court.

If your game is firing on all cylinders, then this 3-D vision is working FOR you and AGAINST your challenger. I'm getting a vision now myself. I see these concepts being verbalized in a podcast in the near future.

Thanks out to Freddie for his insight.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Episode 10: Deep in the backcourt and no place to go but forward

High, deep backcourt shots are tough to handle. Here are some ways to fight back.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Episode 9: Be CAREFUL what you watch for...

We can learn great things from watching the pros if we know what to look for.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

HOW TO…single or double-handed backhand

There are some very good reasons to consider a double-handed backhand. It provides more stability on a less-comfortable side of your body, and it also eliminates strength as a factor since two hands, arms and shoulders provide a very solid connection to the body core. Many also believe that the two-hander becomes more of a weapon and thus provides a greater dilemma for the opponent. High balls in the backcourt tend to be easier to handle when hitting flat or with topspin, and some believe that the nature of this shot helps mask the players’ directional intent of cross court or down-the-line. Although these are realistic arguments, one can find both strengths and flaws in both single and double handed shots.

Single vs. two-handed backhand:

Body Mechanics

  • More connections to the body core create a stronger foundation
  • Hitting hard for a one hander is a product of more shoulder rotation and less arm and therefore eliminates strength as an issue
  • The additional support of two arms probably provides more protection from injury
  • A one hander never needs to change his grip in order to grasp the racket with two hands
  • All two-handed players will need to let go with the opposite hand for the very wide balls that just cannot be reached when the second hand holds onto the grip

Shot making

  • The amount of shoulder rotation determines placement on the court on both shots
  • The same preparation for down-the-line or cross-court keeps the opponent guessing on the one hander; similar for the two hander
  • Low balls are more difficult to handle with two-handed shots
  • The slice shot is easy with one hand but challenging with two
  • Topspin is easier to generate with a two-hander, but no better in quality than a good one-handed topspin (just watch Roger Federer)
  • Volleying is usually always done with only one hand on the grip


  • Deep, high balls are easier with two hands if you insist on returning the ball flat or with topspin
  • A high ball to a one hander is easily handled by using the slice or underspin, but it carries less  power than flat or topspin (but usually great control)
  • Since the racket is pulled closer to the body while holding with two hands, the reach of the player is shortened

One of the greatest players of all time, Roger Federer, hits one handed. And even better, Federer is chasing the record of six-year world #1 champion who began his career as a two hander but gained prominence only after switching to a one handed backhand in his late teens. His name? Pete Sampras.

But one could counter with the incredible records of two-handed backhand champions Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg, Andre Agassi and todays Raphael Nadal.

You should try both types of shots with all their variations of flat, topspin, underspin and sidespin and see which works best for you.

(Note: I may add more to this at a later date)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Episode 8: A hand, or two, with backhand grips

Debating between a one-handed and two-handed backhand? Lets review some facts and opinions.