Continuing our series on coaching, author and researcher Brian Elliot speak of the Tri-Force in Tennis. What is the Tri-Force and how does it help tennis players? Read the first part here where Brian speaks of the Movement and Errors Players Make.
The balance, rhythm and power (B.R.P.) of tennis is a Tri-Force theory that will make a good player a great player at any level of the game.
Balance is the undertone of rhythm and power, and without it, a person’s stroke will break down.
Balance is the centerpiece that holds a person’s posture. When players have to move excessively, it becomes challenging to maintain proper balance, because their bodies get tired and sluggish. If the balance aspect breaks down, so will the rhythm and the power, and they will not be as accurate.
What is proper balance?
When talking about the forehand, balance can be looked at as a propeller; in essence a plus sign (+). When a person stands upright, the most powerful and structurally balanced point would in fact be one hundred eighty degrees out away from the player’s body.
The challenge is to hit the ball at contact to give the stroke the best chance. Yes, variations of the stroke are going to happen, but keep in mind that the right principles on how to hit the tennis ball will generate the accuracy that many of the power players have been missing in their strokes. Another theory example of tri-force are the volleys.
Hitting volleys at forty-five degrees while standing upright will give players greater balance and accuracy without moving their bodies.
It is a big problem, when players hunch over and get off balance to hit their volleys. This is usually the first mistake newer or exhausted players make, and it necessary for them to correct their balance and footwork. If players were sitting in a chair while they volley, they would notice that their volleys are to the side and not in front.
This stability from the body will give the volleying players much more accurate shots without moving as much as they may think it takes to hit the perfect volley. Overcompensating the volley happens most often when players get that volley they can put away, but it ends up going out or in the net.
Remember to keep the balance aspect simple and smart, this will help develop into a player’s rhythm on court.
Rhythm is a great way of staying consistent and getting power on shots.
If players hit without rhythm, they are more than likely to become sporadic players and make unforced errors. Hitting with rhythm will keep the ball consistently in the court. Knowing when to swing at the right time and at the precise moment is easier once players develop their balance.
Once players have a consistent balance to hit the ball (what I like to call their base), they can connect with the rhythm or pace of the shot. Rhythm will dictate how much power players will need to hit the ball over the net into their opponent’s court. If players do not have the proper rhythm, it could be because they are not in balance or their timing of contact from the racquet to the ball is off.
Counting is one of the easiest ways to get into a rhythm. Different opponents and players will hit with a different pace. Some players may find it difficult to adjust to the speed of the ball.
Sometimes it is because opponents hit with different spins or racquet head speed. On the other hand, it might even be that the surface is different, and the ball reacts slower or speeds up after making contact with the surface.
No matter the case, finding a way to count after the opponent hits the ball, and when the other player makes contact with the ball will determine what I call a “base.”
This base is the player’s rhythm and timing being developed and adapting to the speed of the opponent. It would be wise to count on multiple shots to make sure that the player’s base is the “normal ball” being hit by the opponent. A player must remember to stay in balance, when timing the opponent’s shot.
Once the player is able to read the opponent’s speed, the player’s shots, which are now balanced with rhythm, will allow the player to hit more freely with power.
Players can never get enough power. Without power it is tough to be a great tennis player. Some people can “counterpunch” or never make a mistake and win some matches.
However, players that just get the ball back into the court without a sense of power will have to grind their way to win matches.
Power is the essential goal for most tennis enthusiasts. The more power there is, the greater the potential to win matches. When players have both balance and rhythm, power will come a lot easier to these players, because they will begin to feel the ball as it becomes a more consistent shot. To capitalize on the power think about it like a serve.
Players can hit a big serve, when the toss is in the right spot, and their timing is perfect. It is no different on the groundstrokes, except players must return a ball that also has a lot of topspin and pace and is moving players all around the court. To make it easier, here are a few tips:
As I said before, think of hitting shots like a serve.
There is no reason players cannot develop their groundstrokes as a “snap shot” to unleash a multitude of power. If their balance and rhythm are right, their power will come into the shot with a snap of a wrist.
If players are pushing the ball and adding topspin at the last second, they have a long way to go, because they are pushing the ball with their arm, and that hinders their chances at maximum power.
Players can also give themselves more complex variables with the more topspin they try to add to their shots, but for the power, it is best to stick to the basic one hundred eighty degrees flat.
Load like a + sign and try the one hundred eighty degree hit.
Like a baseball or golf swing players see the body is straight and their arms are straight on contact. Remember to stay balanced and structured, so the power comes through on the shot.
If players are moving around too much, their bodies release their power elsewhere, so players will not have as much strength to hit as they would have had, if they had stayed in an upright position. Once again it is about the “overcompensating” factor.
Brian Elliot is the author of Tennis Sequence. The topics in book discuss the following: The Art of “Balance, Rhythm & Power” in tennis, the Triangle System ∆ The Degree of Change in tennis, the Simplicity of Tennis & Singles and Doubles Sequences. You can buy Tennis Sequence here.