Many junior tennis players don’t feel in control of their game. On bad days, players will try magic to make their shots go where they want it to land. I’ve seen kids pray, wear lucky shirts, sit only on the left side of the court, and eat the same thing at the same time every day during the tournament to not jinx their luck. In junior tennis, superstition is as common as it was in the Dark Ages because they lack the control that professional players have.
Controlling your shots is the only way to win consistently. You may win a match here and there because your opponent helped you more than you hurt them. But to become a champion, you need to learn to dictate your points. Doing so reduces your mistakes and forces your opponent to work harder.
On the technical level, control boils down to your contact point and follow-through. Your contact point is where your racquet hits the ball in relation to your body. If you have a good contact point you can decide where the ball goes. But you also must transfer your body weight (or at the very least, keep it stable) and swing through the ball in the direction you want it to go. The contact point must be in front of your body. You need to feel like you can swing forward easily without having to move your body to the side or back.
Here are the few things you can do to improve our contact point next time you’re on the court:
(1) Pay attention to the ball
(2) Prepare early: Split-step before your practice partner makes contact, and take your racquet back before the ball reaches your side of the court.
(3) Stay on your toes and keep moving your feet
(4) Be aware of your distance from the ball. Many players tend to move in position to where the ball is about to land. That is incorrect because it brings them too close to the ball. Instead, anticipate where the ball will go after it lands and position yourself to make contact at that spot.
The player that can hit every ball at the right contact point for every shot, for many hours each day, no matter who they play, is the best player in the world. That’s the importance of your contact point—it gives you ultimate control over your shots.
High Performance Advisor