The Big Tennis Myth keeping you from playing better tennis

Hopefully, through the tennis instruction presented on this website, you may be able to cleanse yourself of the biggest tennis myth that is not only detrimental to your tennis game, but also preventing you from improving your tennis.

Many of these tennis myths are so widespread, that they had made themselves into mainstream tennis instruction. You’ve probably heard of some of these, but I’d like to define the facts versus the opinions.

Most tennis myths are passed down from one person to another. A lot of tennis myths originate due to the limitations of the human eye. A human eye can only observe a certain tennis movement (tennis stroke) at around 30 frames per second or less, whereas a high speed camera can capture a tennis movement in much greater frames per second. The result is, the human eye misses alot of key movements within the movement or tennis stroke.

Most tennis instruction is based on observation, but because the human eyes only sees speeds up to 30fps, the end result was traditional instruction was based on the human eyes of others. In the past, tennis instruction was relied upon by the naked eye of the observer, who would then pass on the perception that he or she had about a certain tennis technique.

With the invent of recent technology, high speed cameras are now able to see a tennis stroke in much clearer detail; and when slowed down, alot of tennis myths of the past can be proven false.

Most tennis myths are passed down from tennis coach to student, and doesn’t change.

The game of tennis is constantly evolving. From one era to another, the top champions of the game have different looking strokes and even different game styles. The problem with most tennis instruction taught to club tennis and recreational players is that it doesn’t evolve with the game. Most traditional tennis instruction is outdated and based on what players use to do in the past, rather than the present.

Tennis Myth #1 Always move forward and step in when hitting your forehand and backhand

Now here is an interesting tennis myth that is widespread in the tennis community. You’ll often hear teaching pros teach this to their students (mostly derived of club tennis players). You’ll read about this in tennis books, tennis magazines, online tennis discussion communities and message boards and even from TV media tennis commentators.

Let’s examine this more carefully. Though it’s ideal to be on the “attacking mode” and being able to step into ball implies the ability to be on the “offence” rather than the “defence”, it is not always possible nor ideal to step into every shot and move forward.

The reality is, top tennis professionals learn to play “offence” and also adept in “defence.” Different situations warrant different footwork – meaning that it’s physically impossible to always be moving forward on every tennis shot.

This instruction implies that there is only one direction you should always move, and that’s forward. But it’s incorrect because top pros learn to move in all different directions. Forward, backward, sideways, sideways and back, sideways and forward, etc… Trying to build your game around only moving forward is impossible.

Tennis myths

You can’t always move forward and step in.

Imagine trying to force yourself to move forward on every ball – how unnatural it will be. Doing so can vastly throw off your timing and cause tennis to become a much more complicated game than it needs to be.

Did you know that the majority of the time, pros move “backwards” rather than forwards? In other words, pros spend most of their time stepping back, rather than stepping in.

Tennis Myth #2 You should take your racket back right away

Everyone who has taken tennis lessons before have heard this one. The idea of this tennis myth is to take your racket back fast, and the faster the better. This commonly taught advice encourages a tennis player to abruptly and immediately take their racket back, resulting in an awkward and rushed movement. The end result is the student still feels rushed and a lack of power. Once again, this throws off the natural timing that is concerned with all the top tennis pros in the world: Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova – Each one of these professional players have smooth and efficient games. Had they taken this “tennis myth” to heart, they likely would not be able to hit as well as they do.

Top professional players have a smooth rhythm in their strokes, and the preparation and takeback is no exception. Top pros take their rackets back in a smooth, efficient and dynamic manner. They actually establish what is called a “unit turn.”

Tennis Myth #3 Technique should come naturally to people, and you shouldn’t think about it

False. This tennis myth implies that a tennis player should not think about tennis technique, but that good technique will come on it’s own. But this is not true. Optimal technique is based on a very defined set of movements that seperate higher level players from average tennis players. There are important fundamentals and checkpoints in tennis technique that often has to be taught and consciously ingrained in practice to have in your own game.

Tennis Myth #4 Genetics and “natural born-talent” are what is responsible for having the skills to be a good player

False. This tennis myth implies that you either have the “game” or you don’t. Although top pros, such as Roger Federer, Nadal, Roddick have characteristics to their game that seem almost godly, this is due to nothing else but technically perfect technique.

Ofcourse, they may have an advantage over the rest of us, due to their training, resources and coaching, this doesn’t mean you can’t atleast improve your own tennis game to tournament level ability.

Often times, this is used as an excuse or rationale.

Tennis Myth #5 Make contact with the tennis ball further in front of the body to improve your power

This tennis advice improperly teaches a tennis player to constantly “tweak” their contact zone during the split moments prior to contact. The idea of this myth is that the further in front of your body you contact the ball, that this would somehow translate into a better shot. Many tennis students in turn, take this advice and to no avail continue to try to contact the ball further and further in front of the body, although this seldom leads to improvements in the actual shot.

The problem that many teaching pros observe is “late contact” where the arm and racket was behind the body at the critical contact point. So, is the cure is simply to force contact more out in front? No.

Many times, late contact of the tennis ball is a result of a problem in tennis strokes or footwork and not the actual contact itself. This is actually a symptom of a much deeper problem in the tennis technique.

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