Chapter 4: If You Already Play, Solutions To Problems

Groundstrokes 
Lacking ball controlLearn to find the ball first, then hit. Hard to fathom, but it is as if touching it first, then releasing your power (in a special way you can learn through this book)
Feel rushed and lostTake your time and notice how the ball loses, from baseline to baseline, close to 60% of the speed. Track the ball really well AFTER the bounce. There is more time than you think
I am thinking too muchSlow things down and focus on the ball exclusively. Tennis is best played shutting off the mind and just observing and reacting accordingly. Too early a preparation and you’ll be out of “present time”
Hitting the ball in the net when wanting to hit it hardAim the ball two to three feet over the net, with plenty of topspin, so you can still hit it hard and get the ball in
Groundstrokes land too shortHit the ball higher, or harder, or both
Hitting well but ball seems to sail outHit the ball lower on the string bed, below the center, and a bit more topspin
Having trouble handling hard ballsTake a smaller backswing and use the incoming force across the racquet face
Rushing the shotsCount silently to five, one at the bounce, five when hitting
Not controlling the direction of the shot
           
Pay more attention to the racquet angle than to your body or to your stroke
Hitting too wildlyFind the ball slowly, then accelerate your stroke. Keeping the eye at contact, including on the serve, is a good habit to learn.
Playing better against a hard hitter than against a slow hitterWait longer for the ball and use more topspin, so you can hit hard without risking as much
Can’t hit topspin consistentlyGet your racquet well under the ball at some point in your swing
Having a hard time timing and controlling the ballTrack the ball longer, especially after the 
bounce
Forehand 
The ball comes out too flatUse the “windshield-wiper” swing, bending the arm, and lifting the elbow for more topspin
Feeling the ball gets too close to the bodyUse the open stance, keep your racquet longer in front, and hit in front. Let your body pull across
The wrist breaks forwardPractice your windshield-wiper forehand against a fence, brushing it
No power         Combine open stance with forceful bending of the arm
Wild powerBring the arm closer to you in the follow-through, not further away
Forehand feels stiffLower your body and then lift it as you hit
Racquet tends to turnHit the topspin forehand below the center of the strings
Can’t hit inside-out
                  
Lead the forehand with your hand, dragging the racquet behind it
Two-Handed Backhand 
Stroke feels stiffLet the left hand power the shot, with the right hand looser
Shot is too flat  Approach the ball from below, bend your arms and finish over the shoulder
Too many backhands into the netAim two to three feet over the net, using topspin to get the ball to go down
Ball sails out
                
Hit with more topspin to bring the ball down
No powerUse an open stance and bring your arms across the body
Racquet tends to turnKeep racquet near the navel, separating the elbows. Hit the ball below the center of the strings
Ball tends to go too far crosscourtDrag the racquet head behind the hands longer, but still hit across your body
Sharp-angled crosscourt shots go slightly outPut more topspin on those shots than on your down-the-line
Hitting the ball too shortPractice with a string three feet above the net, and hit over it
One-Handed Backhand 
No grip control on the topspin shotPut your thumb behind the grip
No powerTurn sideways, get your arm to your right for the hit, and add force to the ball by squeezing your shoulder blades together
Stroke feels stiff  Lift your body as you hit
You feel too close to the line of the ballPull upwards and backwards to accelerate your stroke
Too many shots into the netSwing up, ending with your arm extended and your hand well above the shoulder
Cannot meet the ball in the right placeTrack the ball with the butt of the racquet
Have trouble directing the ballExtend both arms, with the hitting arm going up and the other arm going backwards and down
The racquet seems to collapseStay sideways and keep the racquet perpendicular to your arm
Having trouble finding the backhand gripChange the grip as you turn to your left, pointing the butt of the racquet to the incoming ball as if squeezing a bicycle’s handlebar
Backhand Slice 
The ball has too much spinOpen the racquet initially, but flatten it as you hit
No powerPoint to the ball with the butt of the racquet, then hit your slice across to your right
Losing balanceOpen both arms while hitting
Trouble timing the ballLet the ball slide over your hand and into your racquet before powering it
Trouble with the follow-throughStay sideways and get your shoulder blades closer together at the end of the swing
Slice approach floats  Hit down with a slightly open racquet
Slice keeps going into the netAim at least a foot over the net
Slice is too shortAim two feet over the net
Slice is not consistentTrack the ball until it is near your hand. Don’t rush
The racquet is wobblyKeep the throat of the racquet in your left hand until you are ready to hit, releasing it like a sling shot
The Serve 
The toss is too lowPractice under a 12ft ceiling until you consistently toss the ball barely touching the ceiling
The toss is not consistentPractice against a tall wall or fence until the ball stays close to the wall or fence surface all the way
Having no powerGo to a field and practice hitting a few balls as far as you can
Having no spinPractice spinning the ball above a fence, from outside the court some 30 ft
No pronation on the serveApproach the ball with the racquet’s edge in a hammer like fashion, letting it turn when you hit (pronation)
Keep hitting the legs at the end of the serveHit across the ball and to the right, turning the racquet before coming down in front with the left edge towards the left hand
The first serve is not consistentPut some spin into the first serve too
Coordination is off on the serveRaise both arms together, and slow down or pause slightly before you hit
No controlApproach the ball slowly, then accelerate
Serve goes too longBend your wrist inwards as if looking inside the palm of your hand. That will close your racquet face above your head.
Serve goes too much into the netServe up more. Practice serving over a fence or a few feet over the net, with spin
Not enough spinLet the racquet drop behind you and swing up and across to your right
Not enough powerPoint at the ball with the butt of the racquet at some point before you hit it
The serve is too stiffBend your arm and then extend it
The body feels unbalanced while servingFind a slightly sideways position before you start the serve and then turn into the ball as you hit
The service feels too rushedStart your serve slow in the beginning, pause a bit and then swing at the ball
Not finding the ball wellImagine a small triangle between the tossing hand, the ball, and the racquet hand at the hit. Watch the ball touch the strings
Toss too erraticPractice close to the court fence, tossing the ball by the fence, and stopping it against the fence with your racquet, well above your head
Double faulting too muchYou are only as good as your second serve. Practice spinning it well above the net
Return of Serve 
Mistiming the returnTrack the ball as long as possible after the bounce, waiting longer!
Mistiming a spin serve returnKeep your racquet in front as long as possible after the bounce
Mistiming a hard serve returnPrevent yourself from taking your racquet back too soon and getting caught there. Cut your backswing to almost none
Weak return of serveThe follow-through is the key to strong returns. Hit up and across the ball
Having a hard time returning a wide serveIntercept the ball diagonally to cut off the angle and the distance to the ball
Having a hard time switching grips to return serveWait with the backhand grip, if this is your weakest, or vice-versa.
Volleys 
Netting too many forehand volleysKeep elbow close to your stomach so as to open the racquet face
Netting too many backhand volleysKeep your elbow away from the body so as to open the racquet face
Mis-hitting volleysWait til the ball is near before you punch
Feel rushedCount silently to five, starting when your opponent hits the ball and hitting at five
Having a hard time with low ballsOpen the racquet face, and hit down and forward firmly
Volley game not strongPractice stopping the hand firmly right at or immediately after contact
Hitting high volleys outPoint the butt of the racquet towards the ball, then move the racquet butt down and away, closing the racquet face
Not controlling the placementPay more attention to the racquet angle, regardless of the position of your body
Feel stiff at the netVolley with your hands, not your body
Not knowing where to go at netFollow the line of your shot, moving a bit to the right or left of the center as needed
Forgetting to split stepIt is not necessary to split step. Just let your body be ready to move forward or laterally on a diagonal to intercept the shot
Having trouble switching grips at netPractice a hammer grip, with minimal changes as you take your racquet to either side
Racquet too wobblyKeep your non-playing hand on the throat of the racquet, pointing it slightly up, and use it to get your racquet to either side
Getting hit when at netUsing the racquet to protect yourself is faster than trying to move the entire body
Smash 
Not finding the ball wellPlace yourself under the ball, as if you were going to catch it with your left hand, then hit
Mis-hitting the smashGet your racquet up slowly, timing it with the lob, then hit firmly but not too hard
Can’t place it accuratelyThe accuracy of the placement depends more on the racquet angle than on the swing
No power on the smashApproach the ball with the edge of the racquet, as if going to hammer it, then turn the racquet when you hit
Losing balance on the smash when leaning backUse the scissors kick
Hitting the legs with the racquetAs with the serve, bring the racquet down and across your front into the left hand
Having trouble timing the smashRaise your arms slowly, holding onto the throat of the racquet with your non-playing hand while positioning yourself under the ball
Having too many variations on the smashPractice pointing the butt of the racquet to the incoming lob until the ball is near and you are ready to hit
Not knowing whether to hit the smash forward or downAlways hit the smash down, and control the height and distance of your shot with the opening or closing of the racquet face
Lobs 
Lobbing too shortGet under the ball more, and follow the ball up with a full finish
Lobbing too longPut more topspin in your lob
Not controlling a defensive lobFind the ball slowly before accelerating under it
Opponent reads the lob too wellDisguise the lob as a passing shot, changing it to a lob as late as possible
Not knowing how high to aim a lobThe highest point of your aim should be past your opponent, not above him
Not knowing where to go after hitting a lobMake small moves to keep your opponent guessing which side you will cover most
Not knowing whether to lob cross-court or down the lineLobbing over your opponent’s backhand side is preferable, but cross-court lobs are the safest of all
Not knowing when to lobIf your opponent is crowding the net, a lob is due. If he is farther back, a topspin passing shot will draw him closer to the net, where you can pass him above
Lobbing is weakIncrease your follow-through