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In the third part of the mini-series, Ana’s coach David Taylor outlines some basic drills that are suitable for club players and professionals alike
A good drill that everyone probably knows is just hitting across the longest part of the court – cross court. It’s an easy drill to do and a good way to control the ball and isolate one stroke at a time: you can go forehand to forehand or backhand to backhand (assuming you’re both right-handed). A progression from this simple drill is to go line-to-line, so that it’s one player’s backhand to another’s forehand and vice versa. A further progression is for one player to hit two consecutive shots cross-court while the other hits one cross-court and one down-the-line – that equates to two forehands and two backhands each, but one player is having to change the direction of the ball. That’s a very good drill.
Again there are many simple drills I would recommend. You can do volley-to-volley where you’re both standing at the net. You can do baseline to volley. Again there’s the possibility for progression: you can do a mix where one person is at the net and the other at the baseline. The player at the net has to hit back two volleys, then the baseliner attempts a lob on the third shot. You can make up your own patterns depending on what you what to practise.
A great volley drill that’s really simple but might even help some professionals is to have the player that’s being coached stand right against a wall or the fence of the court and to throw balls at them. They’re not able to swing the racket back, which teaches them what the volley is about.
Targets are a very good tool to use when practising your serve. What I will say about practising your serve is always practice the serve and first shot, unless you’re on your own of course. This is something I do with Ana. Very rarely will we just practice the serve. I think that unless you’re Boris Becker or Andy Roddick, you’re not going to win a heap of free points on your serve, so you’re better off working on your tactics, what you’re going to do on that first shot. For example, you can serve to a certain spot as part of a plan, like serving out wide then playing the first shot into the open court, so you’re leading the rally. Don’t just think about the serve alone, think about the next shot too.
One way of looking at the different types of serve is to imagine someone’s face. A flat serve would be hitting someone’s nose, a slice serve hitting their ear and a kick serve hitting their forehead. That’s an easy visualisation that might help. If a person’s learning top spin you might want to put a piece of string that runs across and above the net, that you have to clear it while still landing it in the service box. The Spanish professionals use that drill and they certainly get a good trajectory that way.
Interview by Gavin Versi
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