40 Years of Tennis Coaching Tips

by John H. Dudley

This is an anecdote from "How to Motivate Your Players"
Motivation through athletics brings many rewards. A young man named Billy gave me the best reward of any athlete with whom I have associated.
In Billy's ninth and tenth grade years he didn't pass many classes, he had all D's and F's. He came from a very poor, dysfunctional family. We had a 6th period athletic tennis class in which I had most of my tennis players. In that class was the only ranked player I have ever had, Jack, and he was considerably better than the other players. Billy did not have a class at that time so he would hang around the tennis courts. One day he asked Jack to rally with him as Jack was the only player who brought an extra racket to class. Soon Billy was a permanent visitor and player whenever he could borrow a racket.
When Billy was a junior he asked if he could come out for tennis. I knew about his low grades so I told him he had to pass all of his classes with at least a C if he wanted to play. When we came back to school after summer vacation there was Billy signed up for tennis with all A's and B's. He played on the varsity team, the league champions. He graduated, joined the army and every furlough he visited the Victor Valley High School tennis courts. That is motivation!

My Philosophy of Tennis
Keep the ball in play. 80% of points are won by a missed return. 72% of pros now play a baseline game. Learn a variety of shots - topspin, slice, soft, hard, drop shot and lob. You need all types of shots to vary the pace of the game and to "disrupt" a "hot" opponent. Look for an opponent's weak shots, usually it is the backhand. Serve to the backhand. In pressure situations concentrate on what you want to do - hit to the backhand, hit crosscourt, keep shots low when opponent is at the net. Concentrate on what to do - positive thoughts - not on what will happen if you lose this point - negative thinking.

These are great drills for the average tennis team who has no tournament players. They are excellent for bringing beginning players along to more advanced play as you work on form and placement. They emphasize steady play.
Follow the proceeding drills and you will cover all the basic shots as well as have your players lined-up at the end of practice each day by ability. You will need no decision making to identify your starting team. If you go by the end of the practice court positions your team ladder will be set for you. The drills cover the forehand, backhand, serve, volley, lob and overhead, with emphasis on consistency, control and then form.
Drill 1 - Hit from 10 feet as in forehand but with a Backhand Slice grip - tilt racket face slightly up. Use one hand for this as it is a lead-up to a backhand volley and a high slice shot. Hit 30 for one minute or catch 20 with a partner.
Backhand Topspin Preparation
Backhand Topspin
Follow Through

photos taken by Leiann Dudley Ramezany
Backhand Topspin:Leading foot steps out, racket starts to turn over for topspin, eyes are still on the spot where the ball is hit.

Drill 2 - Hit from 36 feet using a topspin grip. Reach out and into the ball pulling up just as contact with the ball is made. Hit for form, 30 shots or for one minute.

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