Leg drive initiate the kinetic chain, the flow of energy from the ground up to the wrist. Leg drive is used for the player to push against the ground, to create the energy needed to initiate trunk rotation to enhance the power. Leg drive together with the hips is the creator of the kinetic chain and its first link – the power link. The legs initiate the trunk rotation and drive the trunk upwards and front which enable the trunk and arm to build the racket speed.
In the serve, the importance of the leg drive increases as the player becomes better and starts to understand tennis at the higher level. The drive from the back leg elevates the back hip to create the hip over hip rotation which creates the shoulder over shoulder trunk rotation that plays a key role in developing high speed serve.
So the key point is that the leg drive is pushing the hips forward at the ground strokes, and elevate the hips upwards at serve. So the leg drive initates the hip rotation and in that way generate greater velocity in the stroke.
Legs and feet positioning
For legs to create a drive, initiate the hip rotations, feet should be at the proper distance from each other (wider stance), as otherwise there would not be enough time and space for the hip rotation. Eventually the player would be out of balance during the stroke and in the follow through phase.
For the player to create the optimum energy to initiate any stroke, he has to maintain the most stable position possible, starting with the legs position. By placing the feet wider then the shoulders, the players center of mass is lower and ready to push against the ground with the legs. In this way, a player is at the split step ready position, position to create the energy from ground up and to use the leg drive efficiently while keeping the balance of the lower and upper body part before, during and after the stroke.
How is this happening and why it is so important?
- The leg drive begins from the back foot. For a back foot to push the hips forward there has to be a wide feet positioning, no matter from which stance is the player hitting the ball.
- Position of the back foot is very important as it has to be behind the ball and behind the front foot. This is the only way the leg drive can push the hips forward while keeping the body balance at the same time.
- Leg drive is the first link of the kinetic chain, the power link. It’s the most natural way for the player to create power and velocity in their strokes without using too much muscle energy. In this way, the player has a safe, injury free stroke technique (no more shoulder, low back and tennis elbow injuries).