You’ve probably heard the expression “using the ground” or perhaps “drawing power from the ground” to get more power in your strokes – but what does that exactly mean?
While you may intellectually understand the concept, you might not really know how that feels.
Here’s how a simple weighing scale can help you develop that feel and consequently develop more powerful strokes.
If you want to get power from the ground, you first must send some into it. It’s the action/reaction principle.
Just to clarify – the ground doesn’t send you power, of course.
It’s just that your muscles respond to contraction (while your knees are bending) and respond with force in the opposite direction when you’re extending your legs again.
The trick is to find that proper impulse and feel because if you just “bend your knees”, you will probably stay in that position too long and the muscle then loses the elastic response.
So, keeping it simple, it’s important to know that our leg muscles have a certain elastic response – they act like a spring – but only if we time the downward movement and the upward movement (force) correctly.
The weighing scale helps you figure out first how to create the downward force.
In my experience, most adults struggle with this as they cannot spike the scale past their total weight or they just barely cross it.
If you are unable to create downward force, then the muscle cannot respond with the upward force; hence, you are not efficient in creating power in your body and consequently your strokes.
By learning to create downward force which you can now see in the weighing scale, you will also receive upward force from your muscle once you time the downward and upward movement correctly.
How do you know when it’s correct? You feel it. 😉
You simply feel that, with a certain timing and certain level of tension in your muscles, you get the most upward force. With repetition, you can groove it in your muscle memory and eventually use it unconsciously.
What you may find is that you can exert more downward force with one leg than with the other one.
This can also apply to strokes – you may see that in the neutral backhand stance you can create more downward force with your front foot than doing it with the other front foot on the forehand.
What is often also true is that the stroke that gives you problems is the one where you create less downward force.
Once you improve this critical – but so often overlooked – part of your stroke, your overall stroke will improve without any technical corrections of your arms.
Let me know in the comments if this applies to you once you test your forehand and backhand in neutral and open stance on the weighing scale.
This principle works for groundstrokes in closed/neutral and open stance (forehand and backhand) and can also be applied to serves.
When it comes to volleys, we use our feet more to stabilize and calm down the body movement. While there is still an element of this principle present, it’s a very small one, so I don’t really recommend using the scale for working on your volleys.
If you’re practicing at home, you can stay in each stance (neutral or open) for about a minute or two and keep swinging the racquet while focusing on “spiking” the scale. The digital scale also works well as it shows you the maximum force/weight you exerted.
Then switch the stance and repeat for a minute or two.
If you do this regularly every day, you should feel a significant change in a week’s time on how to “draw more power” from the ground and how to channel it through your body to the racquet and the ball.
If you’re using the scale on the court, do about 10 repetitions/swings on the scale and then hit 10 balls while trying to replicate the same process. Repeat 3-5 times.
Quick tip: Make your arms more passive and don’t hit the ball hard with your arm.
Let the lower part of your body work more and make the upper part of your body more relaxed.
Focus on pushing into the ground and timing upward movement correctly (you’ll feel when it’s right) and see how fast the ball will fly off your racquet without doing much with your arms.
While you may experience an immediate effect even in a matter of minutes, stick with these exercises for a while so that they become more automatic and unconscious.