Let the Ball Bounce Twice!
The singles court is a rectangle 78 feet (23.77m) by 36 feet (10.97 m) dissected in half by a net that is 3 feet (0.91m) tall. The essence of the game is to hit the ball in the air or after one bounce and hit it over the net and between the lines on the other side.
Letting the ball bounce twice is not a good idea when you are playing. However, in a purely didactical way, letting the ball bounce twice can be extremely useful. Imagine for a moment letting every one of your shots bounce twice on the other side of the court and drawing a line between the first bounce and the second bounce. You will end up with many lines of different lengths and directions, which if observed closely will reveal essential information to you.
The length of the line will divulge the degree of power and spin on your shots and its angle will offer you an insight into your ability to pull the opponent off the court. Here are a few ideas on how to use this information: Next time you are practicing:
Instruct your partner to let some of your regular rally shots bounce twice and measure the distance to the second bounce. After a while come up with an average. This average measure is what we call the “weight of your ball.” When we talk about someone hitting a heavy ball, we are alluding to his/her ability to create space between his/her first and second bounce. The longer the distance the heavier the ball. The advantage of a heavy ball is the ability to push the opponent back, a skill that can most clearly understood by watching Nadal play. Many of Rafa’s balls may land short, but their weight makes is impossible for the opponent to attack. Of course, your goal is to work on increasing the length of the line between the first and second bounce of your shots by increasing top spin and racquet head speed.
This concept is also very useful when analyzing you crosscourt shots. By letting some of your crosscourt shots bounce twice you will get an idea of the position of the opponent when returning those shots. It will be somewhere between the first and the second bounce. Are you pulling the opponent off the court or mainly keeping him/her close to the sidelines?
The same idea is also ideal to evaluate your serve. Work on increasing your power by lengthening the distance between bounces. Work on improving your wide serve by generating more angle.
If you are an advanced player some of your shots may hit the fence before the second bounce but you can get an idea of the speed by the height of the contact with the fence and the angle can easily be measured from the fence to the bounce.
Next time that you are on the court, listen to the whispers of the second bounce!