What are the main skills a tennis player should have? As this question focused on skills, other requirements like fitness, agility and speed, which are basic in almost all sports, shall be excluded. Our focus is on important skills a tennis player should have. This are four (4) main skills that a tennis player should have. Read on.
1 – Eyes On The Ball
Tennis is actually a difficult game mainly due to the requirement to negotiate and “tame” a 100 km/hr yellow projectile coming towards a player from across the court in varying flight form and speed, continuously. So, the most important skill a tennis player should have is a good eyes-on-the-ball skill or some say a good hand-eye coordination. With this skill, a players timing is highly developed and easily polished. Eyes-on-the-ball skill is the ability to follow and track the movement of the yellow projectile at 100 km/hr plus speed, from all directions. In detail, it is the ability to see the ball and instantly know its velocity and path through the court as it is being struck by the opponent. The eyes should be on the ball the moment the ball touches the opponent’s racket. The eyes must be on the ball for the whole duration of incoming and outgoing balls. It is a skill largely developed over time but a daily practice of throwing the ball off a wall and catching it helps in the anticipation and preparation aspects of a hit or shot.
2 – Good Serve
The ability to execute a good serve to start points on offense. This will give an edge over the opponent and minimize the chances of them breaking the player’s serve. Having a formidable and consistent high-percentage, in serve, is a good advantage to counter other weaknesses a player may have, in a game. If a player can hold majority of their service games, they have won 50 percent of the game. However, of all the serve, the first serve must be a good one. A second serve among amateurs or club-level players, are usually slower and controlled. A weak second serve is almost like a lost serve as the opponent can attack a slow serve easier. So, a good first serve will be an important skill and a huge winning point.
3 – Game Plan
One of the most important skill to becoming a good tennis player is to have a game plan and the ability to play intuitively. The player can actively change the game plan and shot selections multiple times through out a match. The ability to change a game plan and shot selections continuously in a game, that can stretch beyond an hour, requires a strong mental ability. Tennis is a setting to show that a player can make quick decisions and adapt in order to outsmart the opponent. To do this, besides mental, is the consistency and accuracy of shots made. Another important skill is to quickly deploy the right strategy and shot selection to win the big points.
4 – Mastering Fundamental Strokes
There are five fundamental strokes all tennis players should have.
The serve is important because all points begin with a serve.
To execute a serve, the player stand at the baseline with the tennis ball in the non-dominant hand and the racket in the dominant hand. The standing posture should be turned predominately sideways with the front foot at approximately a 45 degree-angle pointing towards the net post. The key to a serve is continuous flow of the racket swing, rotation, and use of the entire body to “snap upward” into the shot. Initially, both racket and ball are in front of the body. When the ball is tossed, the racket is brought backward in sync with the toss. The ball is tossed slightly to the left and in-front of the body (for right-handed players). The player should reach a point in the complete motion or loop where the tossing hand is extended upwards and the racket head is pointed up and behind the head. From there, the swing is completed downwards, into the ball and follow through.
The forehand is a player’s strongest shot because it uses the dominant hand.
To execute a forehand, the player must get into position, bend the knees, and stay turned with the hips and torso coiled before striking the ball. The non-dominant hand points to the ball while the dominant hand loads the racket before the strike. The key to a great forehand is footwork to get into position in time after the ball bounces, racket opening during the stroke preparation, the complete swing of the racket from the most backward position, forward to the correct point of impact between the racket and the ball plus the overall body balance.
The backhand, is like the forehand, is executed on the side of the non-dominant hand. There are two types of backhands, a one-handed or two-handed backhand. A one-handed backhand will provide a longer reach and is better-suited to handling shots coming into the body than the two-handed backhand. The two-handed backhand provides more stability and control. Players generally have less trouble hitting high balls with a two-handed backhand than with one-hand. Children is suitable for the two-handed backhand because of the added strength it provides.
To execute a volley, the player must be approaching the net or in a forward-moving motion and make contact with the ball while the ball is in the air, before the bounce. The key to the volley is a compact, short back swing, making contact with the ball in front of the body and footwork. To execute a great volley, the player must be in a good and ready position, early while the ball is still in-front of the body and not close to the body.
The overhead is basically a tennis serve that does not involve a ball toss. It happens when the opponent tries to pass the player by lobbing the ball up and above the player. As an overhead is an in-play situation, the player must constantly make footwork adjustment to get into position so that he can hit the overhead in an ideal strike zone or in a same place as the serve. In any overheads, footwork, timing and focusing on the position of the ball is important so as to be under the ball, like in the serve. Once the position is ideal, the player should then plant the feet and hit the ball. The racket head and arm should both be up and ready in time to strike the ball.