This may seem like the most bizarre piece of information you’ve ever heard, but let’s just back things up a little bit.
Let’s think about what happens when you playing a game.
You get yourself into the point with a great return off a good wide serve by your opponent. You are moving (each other) all over the court building the point nicely when all of a sudden your opponent attacks by deciding to come to the net. You attempt a pass which they volley into the opposite corner and you head off to play a stunning running single-handed backhand pass down the line that a certain Mr Federer would be proud of.
Let’s think about what just happened there.
You may have hit the ball maybe 6 or 7 times but what did you do for the majority of the point?
You moved to all of your tennis shots and you moved to recover.
The fact remains that the time spent hitting shots, never mind the actual time the ball spends on the strings is only a tiny fraction of the time spent moving to and away from your shots.
If this is the case, why do people spend so little time working on their tennis footwork and movement if it is the one thing you spend the most time doing?
FACT! The ATP tour stats on unforced errors are that over 70% of them are down to poor footwork.
If you really want to improve your game, it’s very simple – you need to improve your movement and therefore your footwork.
And here is what you need to do!
When we look at footwork in tennis, the first thing you need to do is stop running so much on the court.
You should only run if you are a long way from the ball and it is the only way to get there quickly. Apart from that most of your movements around the court should be made using side shuffles and cross over steps (basically short step movements).
By having good footwork you get the flexibility of choice. You get to choose open or closed stance, cross court or down the line, backhand or inside out forehand, deep or short, passing shot or lob to name but a few. Without it you will have fewer choices available and the choices you do have may well suffer from poor execution.
You improve your agility, balance and co-ordination which are all vital components for high level play.
The type of footwork drills you should be using include cone drills like zig zags and drills that use ladders as a training aid.
My recommendation is that you start incorporating footwork drills into every one of your lesson/practice times. If your coach is not up to speed with all of this then do it on your own or find another coach!
You know that saying – what came first the chicken or the egg?
Well in the case of tennis it is without doubt the movement before the shot ‘ so try leaving your racket in the bag, work on your footwork and movement and discover how well you hit the ball when you finally do pull your racket out.
I have put together a special report on tennis footwork which goes into a bit more detail and includes 10 pages of drills to be used.