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March 1, 2003
Another angle on angles!


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Remember the basic principles for learning tennis with my system is to develop a 'feel' for different strokes along with developing mental skills through REPETITION.  Repetition of simple procedures create that 'feel' NOT an over emphasis on the technical skills and mechanics.  Click here for an article that I wrote on 'feel' vs 'mechanics' in April 2001

Tom's Online Tennis Lesson
Another angle on angles!

Welcome to Tom's Online Tennis Lesson, sponsored by TennisWarrior.com, "Where you can learn to think like a pro!"

Well, I had mixed feedback from my last quick tip on angles. Some understood it and some did not!  Apparently I did not do a good job explaining some of the details, so I'm going to try again.

Despite all the sophisticated technical information and all the complicated theories on how to hit that elusive little yellow ball over the net, the ball always goes in the DIRECTION THAT YOU AIM THE RACKET FACE.  If you want to hit the ball down the line, you must point the racket face in that direction. If you want to hit the ball crosscourt, you must face the racket in that direction. If you want to hit an angle, you must face the racket in the direction of the angle.  It does not matter if you are standing on your head, if you can get the racket face to point in the direction you want the ball to go and hit the sweet spot, the ball will go in that direction!  Besides it may be the first time some of you have used your head in tennis...only kidding! The concept is simple. Unfortunately, the application is not!

When you angle, you must place the racket face on the correct part of the ball to get the ball to go in the direction you desire. In the last email lesson I talked about hitting the outside of the ball when executing an angled volley. The outside of the ball is the side of the ball that is away from you.

To help you understand more about this concept, pretend you are playing doubles and you are at the net on the deuce side of the court. The ball comes to your forehand (you're right-handed) and you would like to angle it to the left. You can do this by placing the racket face on the outside of the ball. The outside of the ball is that side which is closest to the alley. One of my readers emailed me and said, "I got it, it's the side of the ball that's closest to the alley!" Now, does that make sense?

You must place the racket face on the alley side of the ball to hit an angle to the left from the deuce side and you must do the same when you are angling a ball with a backhand volley on the ad side. To angle on both the deuce side and the ad side you must hit the outside of the ball or the side of the ball that's closer to the alley.

Whether you hit the inside, the outside, the top, the bottom, or the back of the ball, each racket placement on the ball will make your shot go in a different direction. For a nice crisp angle you must hit the extreme outside of the ball.

To illustrate this concept I have a picture of Marat Safin hitting a backhand with the racket face squarely placed on the back of the ball. Study the picture and the explanation to further grasp the dynamics of racket placement on the ball.

Click here to see the Marat Safin illustration.


If you have not yet figured out how difficult it is to control the racket face to make the ball go where you want it to, you are on a fine line when attempting to hit a tennis ball into any part of the court. That's why it takes so much repetition. There is no way you can consciously discern between the minute changes in the racket face to control every shot. A slight turn of the racket face placed on a different part of the ball will drastically change the direction the ball will travel. For instance, you could hit a ball ten feet out and the racket face could be placed on the ball only one degree off course!

In fact, when I'm teaching depth there is no significance difference in the racket face between a ball that lands one foot out of bounds and a ball that lands one foot inbounds. The only answer is to keep hitting and hitting and hitting until one day the same ball that was one foot out of bounds now begins to land about a foot inbounds. The difference is oh so subtle!

With this in mind, you must understand what you are up against when learning to hit an angled volley. A tough, tough shot! There is not much court to hit to when attempting to hit an angle. As a result, you must be extremely patient with yourself and hit many, many balls out of bounds before you acquire a feel for this delicate angled volley. Any slight turn of the racket face one way or the other and the ball is GONE!

Does this mean you will not be able to learn to angle a volley? Of course not! It will just take some perseverance, determination, and consistent practice to eventually master hitting the outside of the ball. In other words, you will have to adopt the mental attitude of a Tennis Warrior!

Your tennis pro,

Tom Veneziano

APPENDUM:  I teach a total system of thinking in regard to stroke production and mental attitude which I cannot explain in one email.  Although each lesson can stand alone you will derive tremendous physical and mental benefit by understanding the total philosophy.  These emails, my web site, books, and tapes are part of a course in tennis, not just isolated tennis tips.  They all fit together into a system.  A system that once understood can help you not only learn tennis at a faster rate, and develop mental toughness, but also give you the knowledge necessary to help guide you and your children to a better understanding of the developmental process.
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