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Tennis Strategy #28 The Myth Of Racquet Head Speed

When it comes to winning points, there are two very important considerations to keep in mind. One is technical, one is philosophical. The technical component is that you have more to gain from clean, efficient contact with the ball, than you do from pure racquet head speed. Clean and efficient contact will lead to better control. Which leads to the philosophical element, that you should value control over absolute power, even if you are a power player. One thing my friend and sometimes co-author Chuck Tomlin says, although there is not yet he doesn’t hard data, but it makes perfect sense, is that the player who hits the ball more slowly wins 80% of the matches. There are a few reasons for this. I have sat with Chuck, watching matches and seeing post match data, and sure enough most winning players were on average playing the ball 1 to 2 MPH slower. Among the 20% of players who win matches while hitting harder, the power player will be winning a lot of those. So consider this, if you play one of the other four styles other than power style, then most likely you will be hitting more slowly than your opponent, and more accurately.

Chuck Tomlin’s

Advanced Tennis Foundation

What explains this counter intuitive bit of data?

People are generally fascinated by fast moving objects, and value them more.

The hardest hit shots in a match or more likely to be outside the court, driving up that player’s shot average up, and losing points.

A well placed serve at 110 MPH, out of reach of the opponent, is much better than one hit to a place within easy reach of the opponent at 120 MPH.

Better placement of slower shots have a better effect at creating an advantage, than faster shots that increase the amount of errors made.

Lobs, drop shots, and low slices can be among the slowest shots in the game, they can be very effective, and drive down a player’s average MPH per shot.

The Power Player has build their game around ball speed, so when they win, it’s generally because they are hitting the ball harder than their opponent. This is the exception.

When you play a disruptive style, very few of your shots will be hit at full speed, you create a larger variance of all your ball speeds. This can help destroy the timing of your opponent, when the ball arrives at widely differing times, while also lowering the mean speed of shot.

I strongly recommend learning from Jack Broudy, as he provides a technical foundation that I don’t discuss much, because I don’t like to reinvent the wheel. Here is a link to his online school for technique.

Jack Broudy System Of Technique (Click it now!)

I have been a fan of Jack’s since the mid 1990’s and was one of the early adopters of the 8-Board. I have used Jack’s online training as staff development in the years that I was a director of tennis. All of my first tennis lessons with new students introduce the key concepts Jack taught me, and people learn to play amazingly fast.


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