Practice Swings

batterBatters in baseball, golfers on the tee or fairway, and even basketball players on the free throw line do it; but hardly any tennis players do it. The “it” is taking practice swings.

Picture that baseball player in the on-deck circle swinging a bat … Even in time with the opposing pitcher on the mound taking his warm-up pitches. Almost every golfer will take at least one practice swing on most every shot — even on putts — until they just the right feel for what they want to do.

Is Tennis Different?

But tennis players just walk up there and either serve or return serve. One notable exception to that rule was France’s Madeline Bartoli … She was forever swinging her raquet before service returns and even doing shadow service motions.

I believe we should do more of it to create the muscle memory we need as we visualize the proper stroke before the point starts. Many coaches also suggest that after MISSING a shot you do a shadow swing of the PROPER form — instead of mimicking the errant swing you made to miss that last shot.

My senior doubles partner Tom McCune has even gone so far as to create his own training tool of an old raquet with nuts in bolts in the head to strengthen and reinforce the swing pattern.


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3 thoughts on “Practice Swings

  1. I agree with what Tom is doing. It is great for muscle memory. Even if I am not playing I practice my swing for mechanical corrections. I use an older heavy frame with the racquet cover still on to help with the speed of swing, especially on the serve. I learned that from when I played at Rider, our #1 singles player Don Zae would practice hitting volleys against a wall with the cover on the frame.

    Doug – another good idea! Thanks …george

  2. The bounce hit training technique is one of the most useful training tools for players of all levels. For years, I likened it to going to a golf driving range to practice the golf swing technique. The key is to use the correct stroke mechanics on both the forehand and backhand. I find one of the biggest errors is that players tend hurry the stroke from the ready position to the finish. Take a lesson from the golfers, they take their time setting up the shot prior to addressing the ball, stroke the ball and finish in a pose.

    Chuck, could you explain how does bounce-hit relate to the practice swing concept? Thanks. George

  3. George,
    As you know, I was out for quite a while with Rotator cuff injury. Part of my therapy was a theraband to strengthen my shoulder muscles. My regiment included repetitions of forehand and backhand strokes. I am building muscle while taking practice swings. I think this may help any tennis player to improve their strokes. Of course, I recommend watching videos to make sure your stroke is at the highest level .
    Happy turkey day!

    Ken, stay well and get back on the court! george

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