Let’s look at a typical Rafael Nadal situation in this video analysis. He serves to the outside, runs around the backhand and plays a Forehand winner inside in. The ball comes up just behind the T-line, clearly next to the sideline (i.e. within a safety zone) but bounces far away to the back. The distance between the two impact points (ball impacts) is over 13 m.
Practicing with the second ball bounce is an effective way to develop tactical and strategic thinking in tennis. Even without an opponent, e.g. during a basket drill with the coach, the player can be shown the effects of his spin by marking a second ball.
In this basket drill we transform this for club training (here exemplary for right-handers) and focus once on this Forehand winner, without the Serve. The learning objective control consists first of all of the target area. We mark this on the court with lines or marker cones. The coach feeds from the middle, the player starts from the middle, goes around the backhand and plays a Forehand Winner along the line, i.e. inside in. The focus is that the ball should land inside the safety zone and the two points of contact should be as far apart as possible.
Rallye at the Madrid Open, with players Kyrgios and Nishikori. We measured the height of the ball (net height and distance to the ground). It is noticeable that both players clearly overplay the net (net clearance) and thus avoid net errors.
The observation of the top players on “net freedom” leads us directly to the implementation in training practice. The players place a mini-net behind the T-line and play over it.
From a tactical point of view, it is very interesting to observe how much or how little risk the top players take with their strokes and where the impact points (ball impacts) are.
So when the best in the world stay “away from the lines”, the consequence in training is: simply make the court area smaller.
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