The Drive And Service In Tennis
One of the best forerunners to going on the offensive in Tennis is the forehand drive, which should be learnt studiously. To get the best off an intended shot, it has to be perfectly synchronized with impeccable supportive footwork. In perfecting your footwork as much as possible, follow these cardinal rules: When reaching for a ball a little distance away from you, the first foot that should be advanced is the one that is further from the ball and not the one nearer to it, so that you can swing into correct position to meet the ball.
When the ball is too nearer to the body, withdraw the foot nearer to the ball so as to be in the correct position to make the appropriate stroke at the same time as transferring your weight back on to the same foot. There are situations that leave no time for any footwork to take place. The policy to be followed under such hurried circumstances is to throw your weight immediately on to the foot closer to the ball.
A receiver facing the net awaits the service; but just as the ball is leaving the server, the receiver should get to a position to meet it with his body forming a right angle with the net.
Although a forehand drive is a continuous swing with the racquet, we can imagine it as comprising of three parts for purposes of a detailed study in slow motion,
- The first part of the swing that is still emerging from behind the body is instrumental in building up the speed.
- The next stage is when the swinging motion is just passing the body and is still proceeding forward giving direction to the shot. Shifting the weight to one foot from the other simultaneously determines the pace in the shot.
- Finally, the swing continues to proceed beyond the body to its natural culmination. This part is comparable to the “follow through” in golf. This is the moment when the ball is imparted with spin, slice or top; whatever it may be called.
The Slice is a completely different stroke from all types of drives; that should be topped.
In order to learn the straight drive through the sideline, imagine a theoretical parallelogram in which your shoulders together with the sideline are represented by two sides, while the two ends and the lines of the two feet, if extended, form right angles with sidelines. In such a scenario, the ball should be met right in front of your belt buckle keeping a distance of around 4 – 4.5 ft. from your body while shifting your weight from your back foot to the front at the very moment of impact with the ball.
At this point, the racquet head keeping in line with or slightly ahead of your hand should be brought in a swinging motion with the racquet coming flat and straight. Just as the ball passes the racquet face, the racquet and arm now forming one elongated extension, should be turned very delicately over the ball giving it a slight slicing effect. To complete the stroke in giving the ball the topspin, the stroke would continue to its natural end after brushing past the ball.
The ideal horizontal plane on which the racquet meets the ball should be at a height from above the knees up to the shoulders for all groundstrokes, while striving to take it at waist level for optimal results.
Driving cross-court by stepping outside the path of the ball should never be attempted, as it does not allow you the option of throwing your weight behind the ball.
A left court originated forehand drive amounts to the same as a straight shot down the opponent’s forehand. For a cross drive to the opponent’s backhand, draw an imaginary diagonal from his backhand corner to yours. You execute your shot with appropriate footwork as if the imaginary line drawn were the sideline. To put it in a different way, you just do the regular drive after aligning your body with the path of the shot. However, take care that you don’t go for a shot with a belated wrist motion that could make the ball slide off the racquet “spooning” the ball over to your opponent.