Tennis Footwork Fundamentals

October 2012 Newsletter

What is the difference between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s tennis footwork? Both players are extremely fast and agile with powerful movements. But why is Federer injury-free as opposed to Nadal, who is always playing in pain? This does not apply only to Nadal, but almost all tennis players at any level who are serious about their game. Of course there are different variables such as genetics and physical attributes, but one key difference that I recognize between their movements is gracefulness.

While Nadal moves like a speedy tiger on the court, Federer looks like a graceful ballerina. If Federer and Nadal were to race, I believe Nadal would win. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why Federer has so much trouble playing Nadal. Even though Nadal has accomplished so much before the age of 25, is his career over? Is the aggressive game that he is currently playing sustainable? I hope he can come back strong but at this point, the longer he takes a break from tournaments, the more difficult it will be to return.

I have been injured all throughout my tennis career. I went through a herniated disk surgery in my lower back and live with pain daily from all the hard work I have put in. Chronic neck, back, knee, feet, hand, and shoulder pain are struggles I deal with everyday. Although I teach for hours a day (8-9 hours), how do I sustain the daily grind of hitting the tennis ball again and again? First of all, I love tennis so I mentally accept that I have pain. Secondly, and most importantly, I am very cautious with my movements. That is why I’m fanatic about hitting the ball powerfully and effortlessly. I believe it’s the same with movements and tennis footwork. You can move powerfully and effortlessly on the court and not destroy your body.

Tip: Keep Your Back Straight

Keeping your back straight for all your tennis strokes is very important in order for you to maximize power and stay balanced. I often see my students “collapsing” their back to the side while hitting their forehand or leaning much too forward while volleying.

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