Modern Tennis – The Evolution of Modern Tennis Technique and Footwork

Modern tennis is the new evolution of tennis players. Discover the key concepts of modern tennis and the biggest change in the tennis forehand technique on tour in modern tennis.

Modern tennis is the new evolution of tennis players. With each new generation of tennis champions, big changes in the tennis technique, footwork and fitness of players are now adapting to the new fast paced game of tennis. The game of tennis is constantly changing as in all other facets of life.

Modern Tennis is a High Speed Game

Today, in modern tennis we see players hitting the tennis ball harder than ever before with tons of topspin. At the pro levels, top pros like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal hit their tennis forehands with extreme topspin, along with incredible speeds. They are able to produce wicked topspin angle passes. These shots in modern tennis were never seen before in the past.

Evolution of Modern Tennis

One of the reasons why modern tennis has evolved so rapidly is because of the equipment. Tennis strings and tennis rackets are now made of different material than they were in the past. These advances in the equipment allow players to increase the racket head speed to maximum levels and still keep the ball in play.

In addition, the players themselves have made rapid advancements to tennis technique. The pros are now swinging the racket faster than ever before, producing greater racket head speed. These crushing new speeds were previously unmatched by the tennis champions that preceded them. The tennis technique of the pros have also changed in modern tennis.

Changes in the tennis technique of the forehand, backhand and serve technique. Clearly, the pros today are hitting the ball differently than they were in the past. This is partially due to advancements in the equipment such as the tennis rackets, tennis strings and even the tennis balls.

Modern Tennis Footwork

Nearly every high level tennis player today also has fast and explosive tennis footwork. Modern tennis footwork is also a high paced movement. On TV, we see the pros cover the court with amazing agility and precision. Even balls landing in the opposite corner of the court are covered well, and players are rapidly able to turn defence into offence in a blink of an eye. The modern tennis footwork is now made up of quick sprints and high speed movement.

In the past, the tennis footwork was not of vital importance. The champions of the past rarely played at the baseline, and most rallys ended up at the net. The person who was able to dictate the point at the net usually finished the point. Everything was predominantly serve and volley.

Modern tennis footwork today includes side to side baseline movement. Players today in modern tennis must be able to quickly move laterally as well as side to side. Quick recognition of the incoming ball and anticipation is key.

In today’s game, the modern tennis is based around having a solid all court game. Players should be adept in all areas of the game. We see top pros in modern tennis have few weaknesses in their game, but one or two strong weapons. In order to suceed at the highest levels of the game, modern tennis includes having a weapon. A weapon is simply a tennis stroke that is dependable and powerful – a tennis stroke that can finish most points quickly and reliably. Having a strength in today’s modern game is an essential and mandatory element for success in today’s powerful modern tennis game.

The modern tennis game - footwork

Footwork has now become a staple of modern tennis.

Today, players are isolating tennis footwork movement patterns by training exclusively on their movement. Every top pro on tour recognizes the importance of performing tennis footwork drills regularly as part of their training regimen. They are also incorporating the fitness training element which allows them to have the powerful and explosive modern tennis footwork we see in tennis today.

Top pros on tour almost always have personal trainers. These trainers specifically design the player’s training schedule. It often includes specific tennis footwork drills, plyometrics and even a comprehensive weight training program.

The modern tennis forehand

The biggest change in modern tennis undoubtly is in the tennis forehand technique. Top pros on tour in modern tennis have learned to incorporate tennis technique that allows them to maximize the power, topspin and accuracy of their forehand without jeopardizing any control. The pros today are not only hitting the ball harder, but they are even more accurate and penetrating then in the past.

Rotational Element

The pros on tour are combining the tennis forehand stroke with rotational element. In the past, players had very little upper body rotation and hence had much less topspin on their shots. In today’s modern tennis, players are rotating through their shots, and this rotation permits them to accentuate the racket head speed. The modern forehand is now a rotational “twist” movement with the upper body.

Increase Levers of the Stroke

Today’s tennis forehand technique is very explosive. Players are now increasing their racket head speed so much and introducing the maximum amount of levers in the stroke.

The kinetic chain of the forehand stroke involves utilizing the entire body to hit the stroke, and each “link” seamlessly flows into the next until the final course where the energy is transferred into the shot.

Watch Roger Federer’s Forehand in Slow Motion and Bjorn Borg. Although Bjorn Borg was a classical player, even he utilized modern tennis mechanics on rare occasion. However, the wooden rackets were stiff and modern tennis mechanics of hitting topspin were limited by the constraints of the grass courts along with the rackets themselves.

Notice how remarkably similar the tennis forehand technique is between Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg. In the old days, this was the exception and not the norm. Most of the old school players relied mostly on more traditional closed stance hitting.

Modern tennis technique could not be combined with wooden rackets.

During that era, if you were to hit the forehand with the same technique as many of the players today, it woud likely be impossible to make clean contact on every shot. I’d venture to say even the sweet spot of the rackets back then were smaller, hence you had to be more stable and precise with your racket. Therefore, a slower moving racket would be more stable and easier to manage, rather than the fast high paced racket speed of today’s modern tennis.

Modern Tennis Lessons

Many of the same old school traditional tennis lessons and technique are still being taught to tennis players today at the recreational and club levels. A tennis beginner should certainly learn the most basic elements of the forehand first, which may include learning the traditional “classical” methods first before they begin to experiment with the advanced tennis elements to which the pros today are using in modern tennis.

Modern tennis lessons should only be taught to a player once they have grasped the basic fundamentals of tennis technique on the strokes. Once they have mastered the basic principles of the technique, they may benefit from experimenting with some of modern tennis mechanics that top pros on tour are using.

By developing a solid foundation with good tennis technique before trying to learn modern tennis principles, allow a player to develop in the most suitable and ideal way before adding additional building blocks to their tennis game.

Modern Tennis: Coachable?

One of the biggest arguments in the tennis circle is whether modern tennis technique and the mechanics associated with the top pros and whether they are suitable for amateur and club tennis players.

The answer depends upon the individual player’s need. For a tennis beginner, the answer is a clear no. For a tennis player that has been playing for years, stuck at the same level with a strong desire to improve – the answer is maybe. Dependent upon the tennis player’s willingness to make changes to his or her game. In order to improve tennis technique, and modify the technique it will take many hours of practice.

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