There Is No Ball

Thanks to Ian Westerman, of for this idea. One of the biggest power robbers on any tennis stroke is physical body tension. When your muscles tense up, you are not fluid and lose significant power.

When you anticipate a collision, your body naturally tenses up. Like the drunk driver who survives the car accident with very little injury because he was “totally loose” when the collision took place. But the sober one who was all tensed up in an accident has many injuries.

There Is No Ball

Ian feels that is the same in tennis. Many players hit with their muscles too tightly tensed and lose the power that fluidity provides.

He suggests practicing with just shadow swings and no ball. Just slowly go through the proper swing motion three or four times; and then try to have that same loose and fluid motion when you drop and hit the ball.

When you are playing, you want to focus on having a loose and fluid motion and “the ball just happens to get in the way.”

Thanks Ian!

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4 thoughts on “There Is No Ball

  1. So true about the need to stay relaxed. The teacher I’m working with, Steve Stefanki, has shown me how even something as simple as the ready position can get us in the right place to be appropriately relaxed. Add to that factors such as swing shape, managing energy in between points and so on. Alas, easier said than done, eh? Yesterday all was going fine in a league match, me about to serve out a doubles match at 5-3 in the second. Then, next — tight, tight, tight. Fortunately after losing four straight games we readjusted and won a super TB. But still, I so know the difference between all those many points and the way blood and body get when the finish line appears near. Keep ’em coming, George.

    Joel – Honestly, i really am much less tight (concerned?) since my prostate cancer surgery in ’07. I may play poorly — and i may “muscle” the ball too much — but probably more from poor skills than any thing else. Tks, george

  2. So, once again, it seems the Aussies have it right. Have a few Fosters (or Shiners or Buds, whatever your preference) before playing or even between points (a la Mark Woodforde at TF) and you get all loose and hit the ball better. I like it. Gonna try it out during my singles league next Sunday. I will let you know, George, if the hypothesis is proven correct.

    Marty – Hoist one for me! tks, george

  3. We incorporate shadow stroking into the training of our Juniors because it removes all pressure and tension and allows the focus to be on relaxed sound mechanics free from the threat of error. I remember Vijay Amritraj telling me that in India, months were spent shadow stroking before a ball was even introduced. Sadly, such a concept wouldn’t fly in this country, but I believe it’s a good one.
    Best, Jim

    Jim – Thanks for the insight (we missed you this year at Newk’s). george

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