Dynamic Balance

Here are ten areas of focus and tips to improve dynamic balance and athletic, centered movement on the tennis court.

  1. Lower your center of gravity for better stability. Maintain a low center of gravity with the position of your head approximately one foot lower in height when in the ready (or ideal athletic) position.
  2. Maintain a wide stance to better support the weight of your upper body.
  3. Bend with your knees to load and get down as necessary for each shot. Approach each shot with your legs as if you’re preparing (or bracing) to strike (or resist) a heavy object.  Do not bend from the waist.  Good things happen when you bend your knees.
  4. Keep your head as still as possible and centered over your hips (belly button). At the same time, maintain a level, horizontal position with the shoulders.  Minimize any bobbing and side to side rotation of your head.  Maintain your eyes on the point of contact through the follow through and completion of your stroke.
  5. Use your non-dominant hand and arm to maintain balance and coordination in tracking and moving to the ball and to facilitate proper weight transfer and trunk (or hip) rotation.
  6. Be active with your feet. Use short adjustment steps to establish an ideal centered hitting position.  Be careful not to compensate for poor footwork (lazy feet) by overextending and reaching out with your hands and racquet.
  7. Be fluid and relaxed with your stroke patterns particularly with the follow through. Hit with “soft” hands.
  8. Include core stability exercises to strengthen your abdominal and lower back muscles in your training regime. Core strength and stability are critical to maintaining proper balance and posture.
  9. There are a number of on-court hitting exercises to improve balance. Examples include hitting while balancing an object such as a towel on your head, holding the finish of each shot for a “one thousand”, “two thousand” count, hitting open-stance groundstrokes (in response to balls fed to your strike zone) with planted feet (no lifting of the heels), hitting groundstrokes and volleys while balancing on one foot and running around your forehand (backhand) groundstroke to hit a backhand (forehand).
  10. It’s also important to focus on balance for the serve. Similar to the groundstroke exercise mentioned above, a great training exercise (and the first step in a progression to establish proper balance and weight distribution for the serve) is to hit serves with both feet planted on the ground (without lifting the heel of either foot off the court).

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