One of the biggest cause of errors in tennis is poor and non adequate balance. Player’s body should be in a state of balance all the time, state of controlling the stability. There should be a balance between the dominant and non dominant side and at the same time balance between the upper and lower body parts.
Important factors of balance are:
1. Optimal balance in the ready position for the quick reaction
2. Have a perfect balance before hitting the ball
3. Keep the balance while hitting the ball
4. Regain the perfect balance after hitting the ball
1. First important factor of the optimal balance in a ready position is a proper posture. Having the tailbone out, shoulders facing front and knees slightly flexed makes placing the weight forwards automatically.
Important aspect of the balance is to have the weight forward while positioning, hitting or recovery stage. Feet should be place wide getting the player to have a low gravity position (low center of gravity). Wider the feet the gravity position is lower, gravity position lower creates a bigger chance for the quicker reaction and in time positioning to the ball.
Note: the knees bent shouldn’t be more then 90c.
2. Find your balance for the perfect stroke. The perfect preparation balance would be the one that when you hit the ball you can transfer the weight from the back leg to the forward leg keeping the upper body in the perfect balance. Feet positioning is a key aspect for the proper balance (in the previous blog was mentioned about the ankle balance sensors). The feet shouldn’t be leveled even in the open stance position. Forehand open stance position should have the left foot always a bit in front of the right foot(right handers) in the preparation phase. But the best position for the optimal balance is the more a closed stance. Backhand is mostly performed with the closed stance but forehand allow us to change the stance from closed to semi and open stance.
Whichever stance is used the key is to have the front foot very strong and stable on the ground (anchor step) as to transfer the body weight through the ball. Shoulders should be leveled, and the front shoulder facing the incoming ball before the stroke, no matter the stance.
3. During the hitting phase it’s very important to keep the balance while having the follow through.
Firstly, try to land on the anchor foot as more as you can as the follow through will be more flowing, having the upper body part very much in balance and in control. Shoulders strong and in sync.
Secondly it’s important to control the head movement while hitting the ball. The center for the balance in the human body is in the inner ear. Every time a player moves a head before the stroke the body balance is influenced as the center of balanced is moved right before the most important moment of the stroke, impact. If you move your head pretty fast in any direction, the body is occupied to continue having a balance and the focus is away from the stroke itself.
4. Regain the perfect balance after the stroke. With the shots that do not need a difficult positioning, the regaining the balance should be easier as the legs and upper body part are in balance through the follow through phase. When it’s about hit and run strokes (majority), the focus in on having a balance while hitting so that the reigning the proper balance after the shot is easier. These strokes are usually side to side so it’s very important to have a strong leg drive before the stroke and then a strong recovery cross step after the stroke so the body stays in the perfect balance. Strong anchor step, hips opening and strong forward swing.