Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Recreational Tennis and Having "Fun"

When we play tennis for recreation, we tell ourselves that we are playing for exercise and "fun".  But if your tennis buddies are like mine, sometimes they can be a little too competitive for their own good.

Now I believe that if we are playing for league practice or for an upcoming tournament, I can see being serious and really trying to focus on being competitive.  But when I am out on the courts truly for recreation and fun, I expect to have some laughs and truly enjoy myself.

I hope you have had the pleasure of playing with friends and really hitting a "buffo ball" and having a great belly laugh on the court.  There is simply nothing like it!  For me, when playing with my tennis girls, we know that having a great time and relaxing during the game is great preparation for future competition.

According to Tennis Daily News, there are 8 great tennis relaxation techniques, and number 4 is "Think positively", always a great technique for tennis!

Another way to stay relax and stay confident on the court is to be aware of the score which can be a challenge if the point is long.  Thankfully Score At Hand the tennis racquet score keeper can help you with the tennis score, especially when you are in a competitive match and do not want to make a mistake.

Good luck in your future matches, and I hope you have some tennis where you can really relax and have fun.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tennis Shots - The Serve

Shots, shots, shots….How are they called?
What are the different shots in tennis?  In this article we will help you understand tennis shots by enriching your tennis vocabulary.
First let’s start with what forms the basis of a tennis game: the shots.   In tennis there are seven basic shots: the serve, forehand, backhand, volley, slice, overhead smash and lob.
Today we will take a good look at the serve.
A serve is the shot which starts a tennis game.  The most common type of serve preferred by the professional tennis players is called an overhead serve; though there had been few occasions in tennis history where even professional players like Martina Hingis commenced a game with an underhand serve (where the ball is struck below the shoulder level). The underhand serve, although may seem unprofessional in competitive tennis, is technically legal.
There are four types of overhead serves; and as you master each one of them and become more confident of your serving skills, you might want to use a mix of them in your competitive games to prevent your opponent from returning your serve.  The first type of overhead serve is called the flat serve and you can perform this serve by holding your racket with a Continental grip and swinging through the ball, which you toss forward and a little to your right (if you are right handed).  Although a flat serve is considered to be type of serve which you can control fully, it is also the type of serve which has a low margin for making errors.  It is said that professional players do not prefer to use this type of serve as a second serve due to such disadvantage.
The second type of overhead serve is called the slice serve where you toss the tennis ball slightly to your right hand side (if you are a right handed player) and your racket brushes the ball on the right side as you swing through it.  Just like an overhead serve, a slice serve has little room for errors; therefore it is generally preferred as a first serve.
The third type of overhead serve, namely the topspin serve, is one of the most preferred by the pro players as a second serve, due to its being an easy serve for the server with a good margin of error.  When performing this serve, you should position your right foot (if you are a right handed player) parallel to the baseline while your left foot should be positioned to point towards the right net post.  You should make sure to toss the ball high above your head and slightly to the left and to swing the ball in a sideways direction.
The fourth serve, namely the twist serve, is the other most preferred overhead serve due to its reliability.  This high margin error serve bounces higher and renders it more difficult for the opponent to return them.  The movements you should do before performing a twist serve are similar to that of the topspin serve though with the twist serve you should also arch your back for preparing yourself for the left to right swing.  Do not forget to toss the tennis ball high above your head before you swing it.
In this post we have covered the basics and the vocabulary pertaining to the overhead serve. While you are waiting for our next article on tennis terminology, make sure to watch the games of the professional tennis players and start imitating and practicing their serving techniques in your next tennis game. Remember that practice makes it perfect!
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tennis Vocabulary Grip Guide

Tennis Vocabulary Grip Guide
It is very important to hold your racket the right way when you are playing tennis because the grip you have on your racket has a huge impact on the spin and the pace of each and every tennis ball you hit. There are three most commonly used types of grips in tennis (and then there are others); namely the continental grip, eastern forehand grip and western forehand grip. Before we go on telling you in detail about each type of grip, we would like to add another word (yay!) to your tennis vocabulary by reminding you that each side of the octagonal handle is called a bevel and the bevels are numbered from 1 to 8. 
 The 8 Bevels of The Racket
Bevel #1 is the bevel facing up when you hold the blade of your racket perpendicular to the ground and bevel #2 is the one on the right to bevel #1 (for right handed players). When we talk about different types of grips we will refer to these bevel numbers a lot. Now let’s take a look at all different types of tennis grips we have outlined for you below.
You can obtain a continental grip on your tennis racket by placing the base knuckle of your index finger on bevel #2. Continental grip is the basic grip which was used to be taught to complete beginners as it can be used for a variety of shots. However. It went out of fashion after the 70s and now it is especially used for serves and volleys mainly because it is very difficult to put topspin on the ball with this kind of grip.
Continental Grip)
You can obtain an eastern forehand grip by placing the base knuckle of your index finger right on bevel #3. Eastern forehand grip is the basic grip that’s taught to the beginner tennis players. This is the kind of grip which allows fast shots and strong topspins and is also preferred by players who can quickly switch to continental grip for doing volleys before the net. Eastern forehand grip is said to be the preferred grip of Roger Federer.

Estern Forehand Grip
And finally there is the western forehand grip which you can use to apply more topspin. With this grip both the base of your index knuckle and your heel pad rest on bevel #5. This grip works best on high bouncing balls therefore it’s mostly preferred while playing on clay courts where the balls bounce higher. It is difficult to maintain this grip for longer rallies.

 Semi-Western Forehand Grip

Remember that one grip is not necessarily better than the other; the important thing for you to do is to master your own style which you feel yourself the most comfortable with. Another thing to consider if you want to have full control over your shot is to keep your head motionless when the ball hits the string. Now, take a look at the videos below to see different grip strokes; and, practice, practice and practice.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tennis Equipment - The Racket

It is essential to use the right equipment for Tennis. While increasing your overall performance, you will also protect yourself from potential injuries by making the right choices.
The great thing about tennis is all you really need is a tennis racket, a ball; and a pair of tennis shoes! Let’s take a look at suggestions for choosing the right type of equipment for you.
In this post we will start with the tennis racket. When you consider your tennis racket, you will consider it’s weight; unless you want to suffer from tennis elbow. Female players generally like to choose a tennis racket which is comfortable and most likely weighs less than 9 oz when they first start playing tennis. Less expensive tennis rackets are usually made of aluminum and work great for beginning players. Once you play regularly, you can consider paying more for a racket. No doubt you will have friends that play and see many types of rackets you can consider.
There are many brands; Wilson, Prince, Head, Babolat, Yonex to name just a few. Score At Hand, the tennis racket scorekeeper fits on all of these tennis rackets. You can put Score At Hand on the inside of the “Y” of your racket or on the outside. The stickers will keep it in place and are built to withstand weather conditions. If you have not yet seen Score At Hand in action, you can see the video here.
Also important is grip size. Grips range from around size 4 to 5 in 1/4 increments. In other words, 4, 4 1/4, 4 1/2, 4 3/4, and 5. Generally it’s better to go small on your grip as you can always add more layers of grip tape to make it larger, but once you get a larger grip, you can’t go smaller. One of the grips I have found most effective is KLIPPER as this brand is tacky yet works well if you sweat. They also make leather grips and cushion grips which increase size. Grips are replaced sporadically as needed.
Also consider the head size of your racket, the strings, string tension, and a vibration dampener. String tension is very personal. Some people like tighter strings for power, but that sacrifices control. There will be later posts for details about stringing your racket. Using a dampener is a personal choice; but you can feel the change in your racket when the ball hits the string bed.
Keep in mind that you cannot just place the dampener randomly; tennis rules only allow dampeners to be placed outside the pattern of the crossed strings.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tennis Warm Up and Stretch Those Muscles!

Doing a few stretching exercises before playing tennis is very important. Although a simple sport, playing tennis requires strenuous effort. On TV, you may have seen that the first thing the professional players do when they step onto the tennis court is to warm up for ten minutes by performing services and hits. What you do not see on TV is that they had already done extensive stretching before they greet their fans on the court.

As recreational players we do not have to dedicate a long time to pre-tennis exercises. However, we should definitely spend at least fifteen minutes to prepare our muscles before involving ourselves in vigorous tennis activity. Warming up before playing tennis will not only protect you from potential sports injuries, but will also improve your performance in the game as well. In this post we will talk about a few easy stretching exercises.

You can start your warm up exercises with a light jog around the court. Jogging is very important for tennis for there is a lot of running going on in a tennis game. Speaking from experience I can say that you will notice a great deal of difference in your tennis performance if you only dedicate at least half an hour of your time twice a week to jogging. You will build up more strength as you go along. You can also skip ropes instead of jogging. Roger Federer said in one of his interviews that he does intense rope skipping, like most of the athletes, as an exercise. Remember the better you move the more points you will win on the tennis court!

After having jogging or skipping rope, you can do basic trunk and neck twisting exercises. Make sure to also stretch your arms and loosen your shoulders. Forward and backward circles with your arms will help take the tension off of your shoulders before you start playing. Here's a link to some arm stretches
If you are playing on a hard court, it will help to so some spine flexing exercises. Some sumo squats and hamstring stretches will loosen up the back and legs. You can do this by spreading your feet wide and squatting down while ensuring that your knees are aligned with your little toes. Once you feel the stretch in your inner thighs you can come out of the squat and lift your arms over your head to feel also a little bit of stretch in the arms.

Finally, before hitting the tennis balls with your opponent; do some shadowing. Shadowing is simply mimicking the movements that you will be doing on the tennis court; only without the tennis ball. It is a warm up every professional tennis player displays on the tennis court before the actual match begins. Shadow your backhand swing; shadow your service. And of course, practice, practice and practice.

Here’s Maria Sharapova doing some warm ups:

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