If your tennis shots seem to be lacking “oomph,” you may be arming your shots -- only using your arm. While arm power is successful to a point, you’re also putting undue stress on your muscles and joints. A better way to get power behind your shots is to use proper shoulder rotation. When you practice hitting your ground stokes and serves, over exaggerate the shoulder turn so it will become second nature.
Forehand Ground Stroke Tips
Hold your racket with your preferred grip. The basic grip is the eastern; however, a semi-western or western can also be used. Place your nonhitting hand on the throat of the racket and keep it there as long as possible as you turn and take your racket back. This rotates your nonhitting shoulder to the right. Rotate your nonhitting shoulder far enough so an opponent would be able to see the back of this shoulder.
Release your nonhitting hand and take your racket farther into the backswing. Keep your nonhitting shoulder turned and point your elbow toward the incoming ball.
Uncoil your body as you swing your racket forward to contact the ball. Uncoiling involves the kinetic chain, key body segments -- knees, hips, torso, shoulders and arms. Uncoiling your body segments in this order helps put power into your shots, suggests tennis researcher Vic Braden. After you hit the ball, follow through and catch the throat of the racket with your nonhitting hand to get the full rotation of your shoulders.
Backhand Ground Stroke Tips
Hold your racket with your preferred grip -- a one- or two-handed backhand grip. The most common one-handed grip is the eastern. The most common two-handed grip is a continental with your hitting hand and an eastern with your nonhitting hand.
Place your nonhitting hand on the throat of the racket if you have a one-handed backhand. Use this hand to pull your racket back into position and help rotate your upper body and shoulders away from the ball. Rotate enough so an opponent would be able to see the back of your hitting shoulder. Uncoil your body with your knees, hips, torso, and shoulders as you swing your racket forward to contact the ball. Release your nonhitting hand and extend this arm backward. Follow through with your racket high, in the direction you've hit the ball.
Practice shoulder rotation with a two-handed backhand. Grip your racket, pivot your feet to the left and take your racket back as a unit with your arms. Rotate your shoulders so an opponent would be able to see the back of the front shoulder. Uncoil your body and pull with your front shoulder to rotate your shoulders toward the net. Use your left hand to push through the point of contact and follow through to get a full shoulder rotation.
Practice throwing tennis balls over the net to get the feel of rotating your shoulders away from and then toward the net as you release the ball. Hold the ball, rotate your hips and shoulders to the right, away from the net. Take the ball back and cock your arm with your back shoulder pointing toward the back fence. Uncoil your body, bring your back arm forward and release the ball.
Grab your racket and without a ball, practice the service motion once you've gotten the hang of rotating your shoulders while throwing a ball. Stand behind the baseline and rotate your hips and shoulders away from the net.
Toss an imaginary ball with your nonhitting hand and take your racket and hitting arm back into the classic trophy pose position. Keep your tossing arm up and tilt your torso slightly so instead of your shoulders being horizontal, the front shoulder is higher than the back shoulder.
Practice the shoulder-over-shoulder rotation. As your hitting arm moves forward to contact the imaginary ball, rotate your shoulders in a more vertical line, the front shoulder drops and the back shoulder moves up and over the front shoulder. Practice this movement many times before using a real ball.
- Vic Braden's Quick Fixes; Vic Braden and Bill Bruns
- If you're a lefty, reverse the positional directions.