How To Make Fewer Mistakes When Hitting With Lots Of Power

Feb 05

Is there a way to make fewer mistakes even when you’re hitting with full power?

You may think that, because you’re hitting with higher risks, the consequence is simply making lots of mistakes.

There is some truth to that, but one of the main reasons you miss easy balls that you want to hit with power is because you accelerate your racquet in a very jerky manner – or, in other words, you accelerate suddenly.

When you do that, your body contracts and you’re hitting with lots of tension.

In tennis jargon, we say that you’re muscling the ball.

missed short ball on forehand

You won’t hit many short balls in if you’re “muscling” the ball…

That tension affects control of your shots because:

  • sudden contraction in your arm and wrist slightly change the racket angle at the last second;
  • that same contraction usually shortens your swing, and you pull the racquet slightly towards you, causing you to mishit the ball, and
  • accelerating your shot in a jerky manner also breaks down your timing, and you very likely hit the ball late.

By ‘sudden acceleration’, I refer to that moment when the backswing turns into a forward swing.

While I am demonstrating this with a forehand, it applies to backhands and all other strokes, too.

So, once my racquet has reached final backswing position and I am ready to go forward, if I then accelerate suddenly from this position because of my desire to hit with power, I will have to contract muscles in my body and arm very tightly and therefore cause very inconsistent shots.

The proper way of accelerating the racquet is to do it gradually!

Why And How To Accelerate The Racquet Gradually

Gradual acceleration means that you’re building the speed of the racquet gradually so that it has maximum speed just before it hits the ball.

With gradual acceleration, we prevent tightness in our muscles during the stroke; therefore, we can maintain good racquet head control and accurate timing.

forehand acceleration

Gradually accelerate the racquet from the first stage to the contact point

A good way to get the feel for how to accelerate gradually is to make a sound that goes something like this: “vrrrooooom”.

I know that most players unconsciously imagine a powerful stroke more like “boom”.

They also imagine that they need to hit the ball “hard”.

This of course causes one to accelerate in a very jerky manner and muscle the ball.

But, in tennis, strength is not really needed because a tennis ball is very light. And we can achieve consistent strokes only through smooth accelerations.

You should focus more on speed of the racquet head and finding ways of accelerating the racquet gradually in order to build up high racquet head speed.

So, rather than thinking “hard”, think “fast”, and rather than “boom”, think “vrrrooooom”.

DON’T Use The Feeling Of Effort As Your Feedback!

What may also happen – again on a very unconscious level until now – is that you rely on the feel of effort and straining in order to tell whether you hit the ball hard and whether this will be a good shot.

You may not realize it, but as you are contracting, you are actually slowing down your arm since many muscles in your body and arm are canceling each other out.

So, this is one of the rare situations in tennis where I would advise you NOT to rely on your feel in your body because it is deceiving you.

Feeling a lot of “hard work” in your body does NOT mean that you hit a good shot!

You can rely only on the actual speed of the ball!

You must SEE how fast the ball is traveling away from you or perhaps how little time your opponent has to react and move to it.

I’ve had so many problems with players over the years not really believing that the ball was fast when they relaxed and hit it more effortlessly, that I actually bought a mini radar that I put at the net in order to show them the actual speed of the ball!

At first, they could not believe that, even though they were hitting with much less effort, their shots were actually faster!

So, I really encourage you not to dismiss the idea of gradual and effortless acceleration too quickly just because you won’t feel in your body that you hit a good shot!

Observe the speed of the ball flying through the air and how little time your opponent has in order to tell whether you hit a good shot or not.

The Timing Challenge Of Accelerating Gradually

When you accelerate gradually, the duration of your movement towards the ball takes longer than when you accelerate suddenly.

I assume that makes sense to you – accelerating suddenly achieves high racquet speed quicker and therefore the time to travel the same distance with the racquet is shorter than when you accelerate more gradually.

timing on the forehand

While I am starting my swing forward at this moment, my student is still swinging backward

timing problem in tennis

Only now does my student initiate the stroke forward and obviously he will have to accelerate suddenly

That means that you’ll also have to adjust your timing.

You’ll need to initiate your strokes slightly earlier than what you’re used to.

In fact, I recommend that you really challenge yourself to see how early you can actually start your swing towards the ball because you’ll need to break your habits somewhat – and the best way to do that is by exaggerating the change.

Making that noise of “vrrrooooom” will help you achieve that new timing.

Gradual Acceleration On The Serve

The stroke that suffers the most from sudden acceleration is the serve.

That’s because it has the most moving parts of the body of all strokes, because we accelerate the racquet very fast eventually and because the target we’re aiming at is very small.

That means that every small mistake in the whole kinetic chain will result in a likely missed serve.

If you look at they best servers, they seem to be very comfortable when they serve.

Can you notice a very gradual acceleration now on Feliciano’s serve?

You can’t really see any sudden acceleration except right at the end of the stroke when energy generated in the body reaches the hand.

The most common mistake out there is again very sudden acceleration that happens way too early in the stroke.

So, the challenge for you is the same as for groundstrokes: accelerate the racquet very gradually and look for power just a split second before you hit the ball.

gradual serve acceleration

Gradually accelerate the racquet from trophy through the drop and up towards the ball

Focus on a smooth rhythm that helps you gently transition from the backswing into the upward swing.

Just keep in mind that one of the common causes for accelerating suddenly on the serve is a low toss. If the toss is too low, it will force you to rush and shorten your serve.

Therefore, make sure you’re tossing the ball high enough so that you have enough time to accelerate gradually.

Gradual Acceleration On The Volley

You can apply gradual acceleration to volleys, too, but it applies, of course, only to volleys where you have more time. That’s typically the first volley around the service line as you’re approaching the net.

Focus on starting the movement forward earlier than usual and slower than usual so that the volley is not a short, jerky movement but a more smooth sweep from the start and then a final punch through the ball.

accelerating the volley in tennis

Accelerate gradually through the volley on slower balls and discover how effortlessly you can hit it

Monitor also your tension in the arm as you’re initiating the volley, and see if you can be less tense in that phase of the volley.

Volleys closer to the net where you have less time naturally have to be executed faster, but even those will benefit in the long term from your practice of gradual acceleration on slower incoming balls.

Hitting Consistent Overheads By Accelerating Gradually

The overhead is another stroke where lots of mistakes happen because of very sudden acceleration which is simply a desire for lots of power that is not executed correctly.

As with other strokes, focus on starting your overhead slowly and gradually. Then accelerate faster just before contact for that final “pop” on the ball.

overhead acceleration

Look for power just before making contact with the ball!

You may think that this way of accelerating the racquet will not result in a fast ball, but I assure you that it will after you practice for a while.

Hitting consistent overheads in difficult situations relies heavily on your being very disciplined in how you accelerate the racquet.

The pressure situation (and ego) will often cause you to attempt to hit the ball very hard in a jerky manner, but you must resist that and still execute the smash in a calm and controlled manner.

This, of course, applies to all strokes.

Gradual acceleration could, in my view, be called one of the secrets of tennis as it is almost never mentioned, especially in the “mechanical” teaching courses you find online, yet it is the key to hitting powerful shots with high consistency.

Just give this concept some time before it starts working because it requires you to adjust not only the tension in your muscles but also the timing of your strokes.

Leave a Comment:

(65) comments

Arturo Hernandez February 5, 2016

Hi Tomaz,

You finally give us the secret! Okay, now I am wondering. I know that Lopez uses it on his serve and that someone like Federer uses it all the time. Djokovic also appears very loose. But it would seem that in order to learn this gradual acceleration one would have to spend a lot of time hitting balls very slowly with no effort. How then do we transition from hitting these slow balls to hitting fast balls? Or does there need to be practice at various speeds. I often see children at the local tennis club rushing to hit the ball quickly and trying to hit it very hard. Is this a mistake? Would you actually advocate lots of slow fluid training even for advanced players?

Thanks for the tip!

Arturo

Reply
    Tomaz February 5, 2016

    Hi Arturo,

    The process of transitioning from slower balls to hitting faster balls has to be gradual. I mentioned this in the Proper Path to Power article.

    The challenge is learning to accelerate without tightness.

    At first you can do it only at lower speeds.

    Then you need to try to hit just a little bit faster and see if you can maintain the same gradual loose acceleration.

    At some point you’ll not be able to do it on that current day.

    You’ll need to sleep it over and keep working on it for one summer. 😉

    As for little kids, yes, hitting the ball hard and accelerating in a jerky manner is definitely a mistake.

    And yes, I would recommend for advanced players to always look for that feeling of gradual acceleration as they warm up or rally from the baseline.

    The pros almost always warm up that way.

    Remember this super slow warm up from Roger Federer?

    He is making sure that he is accelerating gradually without tension at lower speeds and then he starts to add more power while maintaining that loose gradual acceleration:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9LzWVbck0o

    Reply
Iffat Ansari February 5, 2016

Wow.
Every time you offer one of your insights i see tennis in a different way.This particular one puts into words what ive been observing in the pro strokes for a long time but unable to implement because of not understanding properly.

It allows you to adjust timing wonderfully along with the three drills you have mentioned before

You’re the best out there Tomaz!

Reply
    Tomaz February 5, 2016

    Thanks, Iffat, let me know how this works for you once you’re able to play with it on the court!

    Reply
daveg February 5, 2016

Tomaz, another great instructional video, Vvvvvveeerrrmooooo not Boom!

Thank you

Daveg

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JonC February 5, 2016

Tomaz, I’ve been thinking about acceleration recently so perfect timing. Do you think that accelerating through contact gives you a better ball than hitting at a constant velocity. For example – if a robot was to hit with constant velocity vs accelerating, would the ball do different things (both racquet head speeds being equal at contact)? It might cause a longer dwell time and better spin/roll for example. Hypothetically, if the racquet goes into the ball slowly and then accelerates greatly, the ball would have to stay pocketed longer in the strings for some amount of time – more acceleration = longer pocketing.

Jon

Reply
    Tomaz February 5, 2016

    That’s quite a deep question, Jon. I can’t claim I know the answer to that.

    I am trying to think of a difference when I am hitting the ball with acceleration or with steady speed but I can’t say that there is a difference in how the ball sticks to the racquet.

    Perhaps there’s a physicist reading this discussion and he can answer that…

    Reply
      JonC February 5, 2016

      Also, I’ve heard that when you decelerate, the racquet head moves forward of the hand before contact (assuming a loose arm and hand and lag) which is not good. Hitting with a laid back wrist is virtually impossible without acceleration – and correctly timed as your video demonstrates. Now, there is the thing about releasing into contact where the racquet head will begin to travel forward with respect to the hand. So, I assume you stop trying to accelerate right at contact, which is “releasing” into the ball, otherwise, you’re pulling all the way through the shot and creating sidespin.

      When do you feel your acceleration starts to slow?

      Reply
        Tomaz February 6, 2016

        Jon, the racquet doesn’t really travel much in respect to the hand. It does go upward somewhat but keep in mind the target audience here should play simple and effective strokes – just like me. 😉

        I feel deceleration in my body for a split second. Also in the upper arm which makes the forearm accelerate. But you don’t learn this through theory, you learn it through feel based drills.

        I’ll show all that in my forehand course once it’s released.

        Reply
Matthijs February 5, 2016

Hey Tomaz, Great post again, thanks! I fully agree with your analysis. But even knowing it, it can be so deceiving as hell. When I’m hitting fast in a smooth and effortless way, it’s so tempting to think: “and now I’m going to hit really hard” (for me it still feels a bit weird to hit hard without really using power). The result is more miss hits and less fast hitting. It can be physical and mentally difficult to start hitting with gradually acceleration again, especially in a match.

In a (tough) match I really have to be keen not to get too tired. Sometimes I even take a rest during a point and/or take some extra time when serving. When I’m too tired I bent my legs too little and my footwork is not good enough to hit with gradually acceleration.

What helps a lot is to exhale, or even better blow/whistle, when hitting (from the moment you start the hit). This automatically relaxes the muscles and makes it possible to accelerate gradually.

Would be great to do a clinic again this year. Last year was so great and valuable!

Reply
    Tomaz February 6, 2016

    Hey Matt,

    Yes, the trap is to think “hard” as that will tense you up. Think “slightly faster”. 😉

    This process of going from smooth slower strokes to smooth fast strokes is a very long one and you can progress only gradually.

    Meaning, when you’re adding more power you add just a little bit, like 10% more power. Then see if you’re still loose.

    If not, back down again and work on this again. If yes, add a little bit more power and see how it goes.

    I think this took me one full summer to get to good power in a smooth way and of course it improved over the years even more.

    And yes, having a long exhale during the shot helps you stay on track with gradual acceleration.

    Reply
Robert February 5, 2016

I have been saying for some time that the “load and explode” model of hitting the ball is very flawed, and your article explains that biomechanically.

Reply
Arthur Quinby February 5, 2016

I think I heard you say ZOOOOOMMMM! and you’re right. If you are breathing out and you can’t be stiff, if your saying zzzzzoooooomammm!

Bet it works!

Bet it works on all of your shots too!

Best,

Q

Reply
Orlando February 5, 2016

Hello Tomaz:

Very good information! Simple, but so important concept for all strokes. It also could probably help relax your muscles avoiding cramps as well as keep your mind cool during the action. Thanks from U.S., South Carolina. Feb 05/2016.

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Mark February 5, 2016

Wow -How insightful- cannot wait to incorporate this in my game. Maybe I will not feel so beat up after leaving the court. Thanks,
Mark

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Kevin F February 5, 2016

Hi,

I am wondering how gradual acceleration affects lag. One coach I took an online forehand course from uses the words “late hitting” when describing how to create lag in the forward swing. I also notice young guys at my club seemingly waiting until the last possible second before exploding forward. As a result I had concluded that it was necessary to swing back quickly to stretch the forearm muscles and then create more lag with racket as a result of a very quick move forward. You seem less concerned about the amount of lag. Your thoughts?

BTW, I learned a lot from your serve unlocked course. Don’t you have any others? Also, where are you located now? The court is in a much more beautiful location.

TIA, Kevin

Reply
    Tomaz February 6, 2016

    Hi Kevin,

    The lag happens automatically here because I am accelerating gradually HENCE my arm is not tight, it’s loose. So when it’s loose, it works like a kinetic chain.

    What you describe with those young guys is that they are looking for maximum acceleration so they need to create a more explosive acceleration but they still manage to keep a loose hand. Most club players cannot since they don’t train that daily for years.

    The key here is that you understand the principle of gradual acceleration and how that helps you hit with power and control.

    Once you FEEL the idea, you can try hitting faster while maintaining that same principle working.

    More courses on the way this year, stay tuned. Currently in Singapore…

    Reply
Slimane February 5, 2016

So far you had been able to put into words some critical concepts that are not easily grasped. Now you are adding sound effects and it greatly complements your excellent explanations. Now it’s time to apply that on the courts. Thank you for your generous work!

Reply
JD February 5, 2016

Tomaz,

Thanks, great video. This reinforces something i have done but keep getting away from. When i stop swinging slowly at first, i develop elbow pain. Then i remember and start swinging smoothly and surprisingly with more power. Not sure why i cant stick this one in my head, but this video will help. Like the sound effects – i think i will do those (in my head) when i play

Thanks for another great video

Jon

Reply
    Tomaz February 6, 2016

    Yes, try the sound effects, JD. Eventually you can just exhale that way without any sound but it will still give you the right rhythm of acceleration.

    Reply
Imran February 5, 2016

Hi Tomaz,
Very interesting. The background looks familiar. Where was the video taken?
Thank you.
Imran

Reply
    Tomaz February 6, 2016

    Elizabeth Heights in Singapore…

    Reply
      Imran February 23, 2016

      Ah, I thought it looked like SE Asia. Do you coach in Singapore? I may be in Singapore next weekend. Thanks again.

      Reply
Charlie February 5, 2016

Hi Tomaz, it’s Charlie from London, another great article!
Here’s the science: Force= Mass (times) Acceleration. And the ACCELERATION is produced by pulling across the ball in the change of direction ie the windshield forehand. Hence you need MORE ACCELERATION and Not velocity to achieve a faster hit.
Bruce Lee was famous for his 1 INCH PUNCH!! Scientist have studied this and concluded that it was the full kinetic chain that he used to get such amazing FORCE, and the karate chop force is achieved by change of direction of his hand. Hence in tennis, your theory of : SLOW SLOW FAST , is correct, and the racquet head accelerating thru the ball with change of direction is what produces the amazing power on the hit!!
Because in tennis we want CONTROLLED POWER; we align the head of the racquet as we approach the ball and then accelerate it in the last split second!!
I’m so pleased that you’re one of the few tennis coaches anywhere that actually explains this so clearly, well done!! Cheers, Charlie

Reply
    Tomaz February 6, 2016

    Thanks for the scientific background, Charlie!

    Acceleration of the last link in the chain (hand, forearm) is also created through deceleration of the previous link (upper arm, body) in the chain which is very counter-intuitive for most players.

    Reply
      glennn February 19, 2016

      what do you mean by that? regarding decelerating first link (UPPER ARM AND BODY) A to accelerate last link (hand)
      no wonder its counter intuitive!

      Reply
        Tomaz February 19, 2016

        I’ll go in more detail on this in future articles but if you follow this link you’ll find a graph showing you how deceleration of forearm rotation accelerates the hand.

        The article is about the serve but the principle is the same.

        Reply
          glenn prottas February 19, 2016

          does it have to do with a”whipping” action?

          Reply
          Tomaz February 19, 2016

          Yes, “whipping” happens because we decelerate first therefore the last link in the chain “whips” through as it accelerates.

          Imagine sitting on a merry-go-round which is spinning. If it suddenly stops (decelerates), what would happen to you? 😉

          Reply
          Anthony February 19, 2016

          Is that the same idea when you want to send away the water on your wet hands without a towel?

          Reply
          Tomaz February 19, 2016

          Yes, same idea.

          Reply
ERIK February 5, 2016

Hi Tomaz, great video.
One question. Some pros these days, such as rick macci, are promoting this sort of flip action, this transition from the backswing to the forward swing in a quick manner that causes a ‘flip’ like actuon of the racquet that in turn creates an energy store, and whiplike raquet speed on the forward swing. Do you think this method of teaching can hinder the smooth acceleration you talk about? Thanks!

Reply
    Tomaz February 6, 2016

    Hi Erik,

    What these teaching pros are doing is trying to copy the pros who of course after 20 years of training can accelerate extremely fast and still maintain looseness and good control.

    That may be the final step of this process which I believe starts with the idea presented in this article.

    I doubt that young players can develop smooth acceleration and therefore control if from early age they are immediately taught high speed acceleration.

    Perhaps some extremely talented kids can pull it off but most will hit with too much tension. They all want to hit the ball hard and that’s not how tennis strokes at high level work.

    Reply
      Jonathan February 9, 2016

      This insight you give here regarding what the pros do in so good. This whole lesson is just great. I love the part where you said you have actually gotten out a radar gun to show your students less effort(counterintuitive) produces more ball speed. You alluded to wrist on high level forehands and said you may do a lesson on it. I would love to see it. I always have kinda thought the wrist is passive on the very best forehands, where the weight of the racquet head is the driving force for wrist flexion. As very supple wrist sort of.

      Reply
Greg February 5, 2016

Excellent, insightful article as always. Very interested in this as it may explain an issue I’ve been having w/ my forehand. Lately have been hitting a lot of balls out toward the tip of the racket. Stroke generally feels fine but am off-center a lot and always toward the racket tip. Has been very frustrating. I wonder if I’m tensing up trying to hit a little too hard and contracting just enough to pull off the ball. Next time out will work on gradual acceleration through the ball, I’m betting (hoping?) that will do the trick. Have to try putting a little ZOOOOOOOOOM in my stroke…

Reply
    Tomaz February 6, 2016

    Hi Greg,

    Take a look at the drills I did with Thea where we were working on that exact same thing, namely pulling off the ball slightly too early.

    Reply
Joel February 6, 2016

Great explanation

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JonC February 6, 2016

I practiced today using the slow acceleration thing – it works! I hit better than I think i ever have and it really boosted my confidence in general. I don’t want to get to excited about this because tomorrow it probably won’t be the same – I’m a pessimist. But today, smooth as silk, great spin, depth, never rushed.

Reply
    JonC February 6, 2016

    Tomaz, you should do a video addressing wrist action on the forehand. I know people say that it happens naturally but I don’t believe it – doesn’t happen naturally for me. But I do know how to do it properly and it adds a lot to the spin. It’s related to acceleration as well – the release or end of arm/body acceleration. I know you’ve talked a little about it (in the video addressing topspin) but I think it deserves more.

    Reply
      Tomaz February 7, 2016

      Thanks for the feedback, Jon, really appreciate that you tried the gradual acceleration concept and reported back with your findings.

      I’ll keep the wrist idea in mind. What holds me back somewhat is that the wrist functions differently for intermediate players (where it shouldn’t really do much) or pros (where it’s much more alive).

      So if I explain what the pros do or I do and 4.0 or lower rated players tries that, it will mess up their forehands. 😉

      But I’ll try to post that at some point…

      Reply
        Vladimir T February 11, 2016

        This would be extremely interesting! I suspect a lot of intermediate players try emulating the pros’ moves, including the ‘flip of the wrist’ already – at their own risk. So any elaboration on the subject would be of great benefit to many IMHO.

        Reply
          Tomaz February 11, 2016

          Ok, will keep this in mind for future articles…

          Reply
    JonC February 6, 2016

    Last post – another thing that happened today was that I was making a sound when hitting – kind of like your vroooom. Sometimes just in my head, sometimes aloud – I think it helps somehow.

    Reply
Boris Tarasov February 7, 2016

Yes, of couse!
If you have two fast moving objects their relative velocity doubles, the contact time is very short and you can’t to control the ball precisely. If you slow down the racquet the time to contact increases and you can feel the follow-through and do it much better. The trampoline effect provides an additional acceleration.
I am suffering with this for several years and even getting injured due to sudden accelerations. Nobody can explain me why. Now I was all clear.

Thank you so much, Tomaz!

Reply
Tim February 8, 2016

Hi Tomaz,
This is very similar to how I’ve been trying to correct my inconsistent performance. I’ve recently been picturing your compress and roll, by slowly coming to the contact point; making contact; and rolling the ball via acceleration. Of course this, in reality, needs to be done through gradual acceleration.
Since I’ve read your articles, my game has improved 1000%. Thank you for your contributions to the tennis world!
Tim

Reply
    Tomaz February 9, 2016

    You’re very welcome, Tim, thanks for the feedback!

    Reply
Greg February 9, 2016

Hi Tomaz,
Wonderful. Other coaches speak only of not tensing up, keeping a relaxed stroke, but your concept of gradual acceleration opens new pathways in your mind (which is the mark of a great teacher). I like the ‘vvvrrrooooommm!’ part so much I’m gonna write it on a sticker and put in on my racket before I hit the court tonight.

I am slightly worried though. That Singapore court looks absolutely cramped and dangerous. I sincerely hope you don’t play any matches there, we want to keep receiving these gems from you!

Greg (the old one from NL)

Reply
Roberto February 14, 2016

Hi Tomasz, great hints ad usual.

One hint that gave me my coach on this regard and that helped me a lot was to imagine I had to hit three balls in a row, with the higher power to apply to the last one.
Concentrate on this was simple and of great help at the same time.

Reply
    Tomaz February 16, 2016

    Yes, Roberto, similar idea. The only danger with 3 balls is that often times players extend too much forward and lose balance in the process.

    So I would really emphasize balance if using the 3 balls analogy to learn to accelerate the racquet gradually.

    Reply
GrahameM February 19, 2016

Hi Tomaz

This video is an absolute blockbuster, Tomaz. There is no doubt in my mind that you are completely right about needing to be controlled (and slowing things down is so crucial) and yet many times, I find myself speeding up too quickly. Its as if the smooth easy approach doesn’t satisfy some little part of me that wants to feel the effort so that it “knows” the stroke is going to stick it to the opponent and can therefore take the credit for it. When I do accelerate smoothly and gradually on a stroke the results are often so good and yet it feels as though you can’t take any credit for the result because it doesn’t seem as though you did anything to justify the outcome. It just like everything’s back to front and the inner certainties you get from so many encounters in other things don’t apply in tennis.

Very happy to have you out there, Tomaz. Thank you!

Grahame

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    Tomaz February 20, 2016

    You’re uncovering the ego part here, Grahame, and I really appreciate it because ego always wants to stay hidden and work behind the scenes.

    Yes, our ego would like to deserve all the credit for those big shots and so it “wants” to drive that stroke as you’re making it.

    Timothy Gallwey calls it Self 1.

    If we let our body accelerate the way it inherently knows, then it will seem very easy and as if we didn’t really do much to “attack” that ball.

    But then ego is not very happy about it.

    What I did with my ego is I gave him the credit for winning the point eventually (through proper target, speed and trajectory selection) but not for making that shot. 😉

    Reply
Richard April 9, 2016

Tried it this morning against Mr. Supersteady, whose only chink in his tennis armor is his rather weak second serve. And the trick worked.

Never before could I attack his weak second serve. After watching this video, I realized that my return had jerky acceleration.

Using gradual acceleration, had great success attacking Mr. Supersteady’s second serve. Of course, also helped was meeting his first serves instead hitting them.

Great training material.

Reply
    Tomaz April 10, 2016

    Great to hear that, Richard! Thanks so much for your feedback!

    Reply
Osamu April 19, 2016

Thanks for sharing your good article,Tomaz.

I have a question. Could you tell me?

I read another your article: How To Use The Ground Force For More Powerful Groundstrokes.

It occurred to me an idea after I read both.

I should hit the ball gradually when I play tennis.

So, should I push off the ground gradually?

Best regards.

Reply
    Tomaz April 19, 2016

    Good question, Osamu!

    Yes, you should push off gradually too. The body needs to work in harmony.

    The bigger the muscles / body parts you use (legs, hips, trunk), the slower they move. As you start to engage smaller muscles / body parts (arm, forearm, wrist), the faster they can move.

    Reply
      Osamu April 26, 2016

      Thank you for answering me,Thomas.
      I tried to accelerate gradually in singles match the other day.It really work.My shots had more pace and control.My swing was more smooth instead of jerky.

      Reply
Louis Hornyak April 29, 2016

This was an excellent instructive article. I have always sensed that I need to slow down my stroke but due to poor muscle memory due to playing wrong for numerous years, it is hard for me to apply. Mentally I understand and I think the vrooommm will surely help. Thanks. Louis

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Steven Gershman August 15, 2016

Tomaz. Watched this series of videos and really learned a lot. Looking forward to taking it on the court and doing a lot of “vrooming”! It’s very interesting that you related this concept of gradual acceleration to a number of strokes.

I want to ask about the “vroom” on return of serve. Is it the same principle with return of serve? I think one reason I pull my head away from the ball is because of the “boom” and not “vroom”. The “panic” to make the quick contact. I realize the serve comes faster than groundstrokes, but does the same principle apply?

Is the grunting that so many players do related to this, or is it simply letting out a breadth before contact to maximize power?
Also, I’m starting to work with a local children’s program here in Virginia USA. I’m looking for fun and exciting ways to motivate 10 and unders. Games, drills, motivational ideas. Any information, web sites, suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

There are many online teachers out there. You are among the best!

Reply
    Tomaz August 16, 2016

    Hi Steven,

    You could apply “vroom” to the return of serve but your racket needs to end up much slower than when attacking a short ball.

    I focus more on “meeting the ball” which I explain in these return of serve drills.

    Grunting of players suggests that they are breathing out as they are hitting the ball but some of them are a bit contracted and therefore they grunt instead of having a quiet exhale.

    Reply
Bruce Hawkinson September 17, 2016

Hello Tomaz, Again another great video. I love to warm up slowly and in the end i find helps with timing and rhythm a lot.
what you said with the vrrrrrooooom hits a key in a Bruce Lee interview i saw once. He was comparing how he hits compared to how perhaps a karate person would hit. He said a karate person would hit you like a iron bar, WACK very stiff and firm. now think of a iron ball connected to a iron chain, very loose. and WAAAAANNNGG ! that is how i hit.

Bruce

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    Tomaz September 20, 2016

    Yes, good point, Bruce, a tennis stroke is similar to a high level martial art hit. It just takes time to get there and it’s somewhat counter-intuitive…

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Duncan Phillips January 19, 2017

I am a high school coach of 16 years. Your material has been a very welcome source of knowledge. Countless students of mine have benefited from your expertise that is visual, simple, and yet technical. Keep up your great work!

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    Tomaz January 20, 2017

    Thank you very much for the kind feedback, Duncan!

    Keep up the good work spreading the love for this great game to the youth!

    Reply
Harvey February 9, 2017

Hey Tomaz,

Great site. Although lots of people acknowledge that thinking too much about mechanical technique can be detrimental to your tennis- yours is one of very few sites to make good suggestions about what to do instead. You can’t go out onto the court thinking “don’t think about technique”. Vvvroom seems like a good alternative thing to think about.

Another tip I find helpful for my timing and focus on the ball is to think about making contact with the perfect “centre” of my racket every single time. I find it stops me from muscling the ball, and allows a more natural timing with gradual acceleration. I guess this only works when the basic shape of your shots is good and hardwired- I’m guessing I will struggle when I face harder hitting opponents as I progress…

It must be difficult to find something that will help everyone – why I imagine coaching can be so difficult but rewarding when people make progress!

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    Tomaz February 9, 2017

    Thanks for sharing your tips, Harvey!

    Yes, looking to hit the sweet spot is an excellent way to playing tennis more effortlessly and more economically.

    Of course we cannot hit the sweet spot “at will” but we can keep that in mind and if we do that then our subconscious mind will help us achieve that goal as much as possible.

    Reply
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