Lift for Power and Spin
“Watch the ball, bend your knees, that will be $50 please.”
Although we’ve always told tennis players to bend their knees when hitting groundstrokes, quite often, we forget to tell them why.
Bending your knees doesn’t exactly give you much on your strokes or serves…but pushing up, back off the ground, really does.
As we discussed in previous articles, using the larger parts of your body accelerates the racquet faster and gives you more force. Using your hips and trunk to hit a tennis ball is much more efficient, reduces stress on the body and provides more “power” on shots.
Athletes always want to break the kinetic chain prior the final link in order to accelerate the racquet more, and on grounds strokes, this means opening up the hips slightly before hitting the ball. Uncoiling the upper and lower body in one motion, or the old “unit turn” does not allow players to release their full power into a tennis, baseball, golf or hockey swing.
Have your players experiment opening or “throwing” their hips at the ball slightly before they strike the ball. They should notice the racquet collapse into the body (on a serve or groundstroke) and accelerate faster into the shot. This will seem awkward at first, so have players try this at half speed, at first.
Once they have this hip rotation, have them try bending low and pushing off the ground to get reactive power, creating even more racquet acceleration. To really demonstrate the feeling of this, have players sit in a chair while you feed hand toss them balls, getting up out of the chair to hit a groundstroke. They will instantly feel the leg muscles used during the shot.
As we learned in the article More Legs = More Power + More Spin, the legs, hips and trunks, not the arm or wrist, are key components to adding racquet acceleration for power and spin.
Work with your players to get them to bend their knees — and push off the ground — to explode into their strokes.