Snappy Snaps | The Concept of the Drive in Tennis | Since the forehand drive represents the beginning of each and every offensive in tennis, it is the shot that should be studied with the utmost care. There are specific guidelines for footwork that are applicable to each and every shot. To reach a ball that is only a small distance away, move the foot that is farthest away from the shot forward. This will allow you to swing into position to hit the ball. If the ball is too close to the body, step back with the foot that is closest to the shot and put your weight back on that foot. This will put you back in position for the stroke. When you are in a hurry and you are unable to shift the location of your feet, you should throw your weight onto the foot that is closest to the ball.
The receiver should always wait for the service with their back to the net; however, as soon as the service has begun on its way to the court, the receiver should immediately move into position to receive it with their body at a right angle to the net.
The forehand drive consists of a single, uninterrupted swing of the racquet, which, for the sake of analysis, can be broken down into the following three parts:
1. The section of the swing that occurs behind the body and is responsible for determining how fast the stroke is made.
2. The section of the body that is directly in front of the body and which, in conjunction with the transfer of weight from one foot to the other, defines the direction and, in turn, the tempo of the shot.
3. The portion of the swing that extends beyond the body, often known as the golfer’s “follow through,” is what defines the type of spin (top or slice) that is transferred to the ball.
It is recommended that all drives be topped off. The slice shot is an entirely distinct type of stroke.
Constructing a parallelogram with the side line and your shoulders as two of the sides, and the lines of your feet as the two ends of the parallelogram should allow you to drive in a straight line down the side line. If you were to extend the lines of your feet, they should form right angles with the sidelines. Meet the ball at a location around four to four and a half feet away from the body directly in front of the belt buckle, and shift the weight from the rear foot to the front foot at the MOMENT OF STRIKING THE BALL in order to hit the ball successfully. The motion of the racquet swing should be smooth and continuous all the way through. The head of the racquet should be in line with the hand or, if anything, slightly ahead of it. The entire arm as well as the racquet should turn slightly over the ball as it exits the racquet face, and the stroke should continue to the limit of the swing in order to give the ball topspin.
When playing groundstrokes, the optimal hitting plane should be between the knees and the shoulders. The plane that is perpendicular to the waist is the one that is most advantageous.
When driving cross-court, you should never step away from the ball. Always put your best foot forward and give it your all.
The forehand drive from the left court is performed in precisely the same manner as the straight shot down the forehand of your opponent. For the cross drive to his backhand, you need to imagine a diagonal line running from your backhand corner to his, and then make your stroke with the footwork as if this imagined line were the side-line. This will allow you to hit the ball into his backhand. In other words, align your body along the trajectory of the shot, and then proceed with your normal drive. Do not attempt to “spoon” the ball over by using a delayed wrist motion because this causes the ball to slide off of your racquet more often than not.
Every single drive ought to be executed with a rigid and locked wrist. In a proper drive, there is no movement of the wrist at all. The arm, and not the wrist, is responsible for imparting top spin.
The backhand drive adheres very closely to the principles of the forehand drive, with the exception that the weight shift occurs slightly earlier. Additionally, the right or front foot should always be advanced a trifle closer to the sideline than the left in order to bring the body clear of the swing. It is recommended that the ball be met in front of the right leg rather than at the belt buckle because the most common error made with backhand shots is to slice the ball out of the sideline. Meeting the ball in front of the right leg will cause the ball to pull across the court, eliminating this error. In order to help get the ball into the court, the head of the racquet needs to be somewhat in front of the hand holding it. Try not to put too much emphasis on top spin with your backhand shot.
I strongly encourage everyone to avoid ever favoring one aspect of their game over another in order to compensate for a deficiency. You should work on improving both your forehand and your backhand, and you should never “run around” your backhand, especially while returning serves. Doing so will just open the door to your court. If you choose to do so, you should provide your best effort to ace your returns because giving your opponent a weak effort will only result in them killing you.
Do not become overly dependent on a single shot and play only that shot every time. If you have a decent drive that goes across the court, you should avoid using it during practice and instead focus on improving your straight stroke instead.
It is important to keep in mind that the fastest shot is also the straight shot. Because of the increased angle and height of the net, the cross drive has to be played at a leisurely pace because there is not enough place for it. Your drive should be directed down the line, but your cross-court shot should be used to open up the court.
The depth of the drive should be sufficient. The typical driver should cross the finish line after the service line. If you hit the ball well, you should be within three feet of the baseline. It is recommended that a cross-court drive be played at a shorter distance than a straight drive in order to maximize the angle that can be achieved. Drive the ball at varying distances depending on your partner rather than sticking to one set length all the time. When playing against a baseliner, you should drive the ball deep, but when playing against a net player, you should drive the ball short and try to drop it at his feet as he comes in.
Never give your opponent the opportunity to play a shot that he enjoys if there is any chance that you can coerce him into playing a shot that he dislikes.
I must push you once more to engage in your drive:
1. With the body angled at a 45-degree angle to the net.
2. A flat swing with a longer follow-through.
3. A change in weight that occurs immediately before impact with the ball.
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