Want to Play Better Tennis? Find Your Balance
One of the most fundamental, yet often overlooked, qualities of successful tennis players is balance. In fact, having proper balance is critical to both achieving an effective swing and being in control of the ball.
According to former professional and current ATP Tour coach Rohan Williams, balance is the key to playing your best tennis. To Williams, having a strong foundation of balance allows athletes to be in control of their bodies, which makes it easier to be in control of what the racquet does and to be in control of the ball.
When it comes to balance flaws, Williams believes most issues stem from the fact that players’ priorities lie elsewhere when taking shots, whether those priorities be with the racquet, ball, or opponent. Therefore, athletes must make a conscious effort to make balance a priority in their day-to-day training.
“Tennis is a very complex game, so there’s a lot of different aspects of the sport that you can be working on at one time,” explained Williams. “I believe in a strong foundation of the athlete, which is why I constantly work on balance with my players.”
In order to enhance the balance of his athletes, Williams believes in performing a variety of drills on one leg, including hopping exercises to make the players more aware of their balance and where their weight is located. Hopping drills also allow players to recognize and control the location of their feet, as well as learn how the body both leaves and returns back to the ground.
However, the most important tool Williams employs to improve balance flaws is the medicine ball. The different drills he uses include throwing the ball, simulating shots, and working on hip rotation in an effort to properly teach the kinetic chain.
Another key to effective balance on the court is assuming an athletic stance, which is particularly useful during rallies because players are able to change direction, as well as accelerate and decelerate while maintaining their stability.
“When a tennis player is not utilizing a stable athletic position, they are hindering their ability to move quickly and efficiently on the court,” said WTCA CEO Sarah Stone. “By being in an athletic stance, players are able to get to the ball without compromising the swing.”
While balance may seem like a no-brainer, it is certainly an area where players can differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive sport. “Make balance a priority,” said Williams. “All shots start from the ground up. Be aware of where your weight is, what stance you’re using, and how those two affect each other, and then you’ll achieve balance.”