Making Effective Use Of The Tennis Drive
Drives should never be made using the wrist to power them. It would be observed that even when imparting topspin to a ball, it is always done with the movement of the arm and not the wrist. No room exists for any wrist play in drives.
There is not much of a difference between the principles involved in the execution of a backhand drive and a forehand drive except in respect of the following salient features that need to be clearly understood for the proper execution of these shots in the correct manner. When you play a backhand drive, the shifting of weight occurs a trifle sooner than in the case of a forehand drive. Furthermore, when playing backhand, you should make room for the swing to occur well clear of the body by advancing your right (front) foot a little more closer towards the sideline than your left (back) foot.
Another point to note is to meet the ball in front of your right leg and not in front of your belt buckle. The emphasis in the case of backhand shots is on slicing them away from the sideline, and thus pulling the ball across the court (called “cross-court”), effectively countering the possibility of error. Here, the racquet head proceeds slightly ahead of your hand to help bring the ball in to the court. Refrain from committing the mistake of striving to extract too much topspin off backhand drives.
I would strongly urge you not to concentrate on developing one department at the cost of vulnerability in the other even on grounds of an inherent physical or technical weakness. Such shortsighted action could expose your weakness to the opponent who would capitalize on it and taunt you mercilessly. Try to develop both departments at whatever cost and refrain from running around too much on your backhand, especially in returning service that would only help in further opening your court. Even if it happens due to some reason, make up for it by sending in your returns to make it difficult for your opponent to go for a kill.
Similarly, it is not at all wise to have any favorite shots and limit yourself to playing that shot too often at the cost of not developing so many other shots that could be far more advantageous under variable circumstances. You may for instance have a superb cross-court drive; but that is no justification for your failure to make an equally good or a far superior straight drive.
If you like to play fast shots, then it has to be the straight drive for you since the cross drive has to be obviously slower due to the enhanced angle and the net height. Drive down the line when going for a straight, but have the court open for the cross-court shot.
Give depth to your drives. A fine drive is one that is targeted to hit 3 feet inside from the baseline whereas the normal drive should hit the court passing the service-line. The crosscourt drive would be shorter in comparison to a straight drive, due to the probable enhanced angle. Your tactics should be to drive deep when playing to a baseliner and short to net players, trying to drop the ball at their feet as they come in.
You should study your opponents and play to their weak points while not allowing any opportunities to go for their favorite shots.
Once again I would like to stress that you play the drive shot
- with your body at right angles to the net, and
- with a flat swing and long follow through, while
- shifting the weight from one foot to the other at the moment of hitting the ball.