Saturday, June 20, 2015

Marco Bitran - Double(s) Cross


The net person's main job is to guard the line. She has to make certain that the ball is not successfully hit down the alley. Most of the time, she would become a little paranoid about leaving the alley to poach at the middle of the net. Normally, if the serve is fast and hit near the center of the service box, then the fear of down the line return is muted because of the angle created by the serve. However, most hackers have slow to moderate serves which are hit to the middle of the service box. This serve gives the returner confidence to go cross-court or down the line. As a consequence of the returner's choices, the net person is rendered virtually motionless against the return.

I have my own solution to this problem. I am not sure if it is an original idea, but it makes perfect sense to me. It protects against the down the lines, most of the down the middles, and most of the lobs. Only a perfectly timed down the middle or a well hit lob deep to the server's side wins outright.

The maneuver is simple, but brilliant. The server hits the ball anywhere in the service box. Before the ball hits in the box, the net person moves directly over to the server-side box. At the same time, the server moves at a diagonal so that she makes it to the middle of the back line of the net person-side box. The players cover both lines and most other shots during the transition to and while reaching their final positions. The crisscrossing of the players protects against most down the middle shots. The timing of the down the middle pass would have to be picture perfect to win the point. Of course a deep lob to the server's side would be disastrous. However, if a player could consistently make that lob shot, then he deserves to win the match.

I have field tested this maneuver and it has worked beautifully. I experienced a high winning percentage as long as the maneuver was done without compromise. Once I had a partner, who as a server, deviated from the plan and ran along the baseline in the direction of the net person's court. This deviation opened up numerous passing lanes. Even when the server reached and returned the ball, the advantage at the net was lost to the returning team. The results of his actions severely lowered my winning percentage. If you follow this maneuver to the letter, then you and your doubles partner should be difficult to beat!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Marco Bitran - How to Hit a Federer Forehand From Your Own Backyard


If you've been following tennis for the last 10 years, you should be familiar with the name Roger Federer. No? OK, let's see if this jogs your memory a bit: 77 career titles. 17 Grand Slam titles. World Number 1 for 302 weeks. Often seen in expensive watch commercials.

Still, no? I hate to break this to you, but, it looks like you've been watching the wrong sport for the last 10 years. Before you read further, may I suggest YouTubing Roger Federer for a while?

For the rest of you, Federer no doubt embodies all that is perfect about tennis (at least for now; you never know what kind of ball-hitting machine the future throws up). His game is complete: a powerful, precise serve; a fluid backhand; and -here it comes - an atomic bomb of a forehand.

A beautiful atomic bomb, too. Simple, clean, exquisite, and most importantly, effective. So, the question is can you develop your own version of the Roger Federer forehand?

Since Fed is more of an advanced player (advanced as in "Second to God"), his forehand may not suit novice players. But the basics of his forehand are strong, and it will do no harm for us to explore it in detail here. You might just pick up a few tricks.

So let's get studying!

1. The grip

The grip is the most important, yet underrated part of your game. We're not talking about what the racquet handle is made of, but the way you hold the racquet. There are 4 types of grips: Continental, Eastern, Semi-western and Western. Today, we'll look into the Eastern Forehand Grip because that's the one Roger generally uses.

Wait, Roger who?

Roger Fed... hey, aren't you the guy who's supposed to be YouTubing right now?

Sorry about that. Back to the Eastern Grip. Hold the racquet handle in such a way that the base knuckle of your index finger is on bevel 3 of your racquet. Identifying the bevels is very simple: Hold your racquet in such a way so that the face is pointing sideways. Now the bevel that is pointing up is bevel 1. You move the racquet in an anti-clockwise direction, and the next bevel in line is bevel 2. The next one is bevel 3. Got it?

This illustration will help you understand the 8 bevels of a racquet better.

This is generally considered the easiest grip for learning the forehand. It's also very easy to switch quickly to other grips from the Eastern grip, so it's a good choice for players who like to serve and volley. You can also create shots with top spin and also play flatter, penetrating strokes.

2. The Backswing

For players who are just starting out, coaches usually drop the ball from a static height. This enables the player to develop his/her forehand (or backhand) and also, sub-consciously, solidify his/her elbow and wrist angular positions on impact. What you need to know is that during a shot, your wrist and elbow positions are going to be relatively stable; what's going to vary is your elbow and wrist angular velocity. This is influenced by a number of factors: ball speed, bounce, top spin, difference in frictional characteristics of the surface etc.

So what does Federer do?

When he sees the ball coming, he rotates his full upper body along with his racquet to his forehand side (till the racquet reaches his takeback height). Notice that he never takes his racquet behind his body. It's precisely because he gets his body into the swing. Once his upper body is fully turned, he can then unleash tremendous amounts of energy into his shot. Think of it as a rubber band in a stretched position. It's got a lot of energy waiting to be released. This is known as the Stretch Shortening Cycle.

3. The release

By now the ball has bounced on the ground. People watching have their hearts in their mouth. The Swiss is cool: he lets the racquet down from the takeback height. Now, he's got his whole body into the motion, so there's more power involved than just his arm. Just relax and let all that built up potential energy go to war.

4. Ka-boom!

Next up, contact. Federer's contact point is not that different from the contact points of most other players. What's important is the backswing.

5. The follow through

Federer usually ends his forehand across his shoulder, just like most of the pros out there. This is known as the Windshield Wiper finish and is different from the traditional follow through which ends over the shoulder of the player.

With that we've come to end of the Federer forehand. Remember, the most important part of his shot is the core rotation i.e the upper body turn which goes into the backswing.

Federer's basics are solid, so you focus on strengthening yours. Also, concentrate on maintaining a strong, balanced posture throughout your shots. You'll be fine.

And ah! Here comes Mr. Roger Who, back from his YouTube exploits. Sorry, dude, school's out, but feel free to go right back up and read this article.

I'll see you soon!

The author works for Live Your Sport, an online sports and fitness equipment store, and is a contributor to their sports and fitness blog, 'The Source'

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Marco Bitran - Fix My Serve: Three Places You Can Aim Your Serve


There are three places that you can send a ball into by the service box, if you are looking to fix your serve by improving it then by knowing which 3 areas that you can help you attack at your opponents weaker sides.

However, even if you do find out the weaker side then don't continuously hit to this side, you want to mix it up so that you don't allow them to build a rhythm - so that you can keep them on their toes and ready to make mistakes which therefore can keep you in control of the game.

Each of the 3 areas that you go onto hitting the ball to have their advantages and as mentioned there will be one which creates a weakness for your opponent so make sure that you keep it varied from out wide, down the middle and straight at your opponent.


If you realize that your opponent isn't too fast on their feet then placing your shot out wide is highly effective, this will lead to them having to try and reach the ball in time and even if they do they may provide a weak return which you will be able to hit back to the other side as a winning stroke.

However there is a downside to this shot which is that you are making yourself open to a return, if your opponent manages to get to the ball they can in fact return it across court as well. This return might be easier as well due to the fact that the ball will slow down since it has further to travel so beware of this.

Going down the middle

If you choose to go down the middle then you won't encounter the problem of losing speed as the court is shorter across the middle than traveling all the way across making this a great shot for powerfully placed shots with some spin as well.

This reduces the chances of returning due to the angle but you can expect more of your opponents to return the ball back down the middle. If they manage to return this can put you in the position to place a controlled volley onto their weaker side which can help to win the point.

Serving at the body of your opponent

This is a great shot that you can do which can cause your opponent to make plenty of mistakes. If you serve it fast they will have to back away or get themselves into an angle however a position like this can be uncomfortable for them and can cause them to create a weak return if they are even able to get it past the net giving you the upper hand if done correctly.

Whatever you do however don't hit the ball toward their back or forehand as this is an area where it is simple for them to get into a position to return the ball, you will want to aim straight for the body so that they will have trouble placing themselves in a decent position for a return to take place.

These are 3 different types that you should mix up and learn to use to fix your serve as they can create a lot of trouble for your opponent if they are done correctly.

It's simple to fix your serve by improving plenty aspects of it so you want to make sure that you know as much as you can see as knowledge is power. If you want to make your serve more deadly then something you can do is check out this blog where you can find more information on the serve and how you can improve it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Marco Bitran - How To Serve In Tennis Properly: The Power of The First Serve


When it comes down to how to serve in tennis properly you are going to want to focus on the first serve, by being able to create a strong foundation on this you won't have to put pressure on yourself for the second and increase the chance of double faulting. This doesn't mean to smash a serve in as hard as possible, there are different ways that you can create a good first serve.

Firstly, many people need to understand is that you don't exercise a lot to create something powerful and tricky for your opponent, strength is generated from all over the body not just from the arms so make sure that if you are exercising you go for the full body as this will help you generate the power and the speed that you are going to need.

Mix up the serves

One thing that will hinder your chances are throwing the same stroke over and over again and it may not lead to a double fault but it can lead to making the return for your opponent a lot easier putting you off in a worst off position.

As you may already know you have the option of 4 different types of shots that you can make; the kick, topspin, flat and then the slice.

Instead of just hitting the same one over again you need to mix it up as this can throw your opponent off if they have it in their mind that you're hitting the same one over and over again.

Adding some power into it

Don't blindly just hit a powerful serve, you want to add placement with it. Placement is highly important when it comes down to power, if you can add power and placement you will be able to find that it is harder for your opponents to be able to hit.

As mentioned don't just blindly hit it, if you can't control it then you want to slow it down slightly and build up control and only after this you can speed up and add power. The main thing you want to focus on is control and placement before you focus on putting more power into your shot than you can handle.

Keeping your opponent from attacking

Smaller players who can't generate much power might don't rely too much on their power but instead they have options such as spin and placement to make sure that they aren't able to return and put you into a defensive position.

You will want to focus on deeper shots if you aren't using as much power due to the fact that less power whilst hitting it shallow can lead to your opponent being able to return back more powerful returns which isn't something that you will want to go through.

Switch up between powerfully controlled shots and then slower ones as well but make sure that they are controlled and also that you think of the placement. If you want to know how to serve in tennis properly then this is something that you are going to have to keep in mind to keep your opponent on their toes.

If you want to serve in tennis properly there are a variety of things that you can do and a variety of things that you can improve on, all you need to be able to do is learn more about the serve. If you want to make your serve more deadly then something you can do is check out this blog where you can find more information on the serve and how you can improve it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Marco Bitran - Fitness Training: The Secret of Success in Tennis

Expert Author Giselle Martin 

Tennis has changed as compared to a few years ago. To excel in this sport, a tennis player needs to undergo extensive fitness training to improve footwork, speed, strength and performance. In order to out-stand the cut-throat competition, tennis players need to follow a tennis specific fitness training program that will help give them that slight edge on court.

Let us have a look at how tennis fitness training assists a tennis player in climbing the success ladder:

Types of Fitness Components

Tennis is a very diverse and complex sport. If you are serious about being successful, training for tennis should address all fitness components, rather than just focusing on court drills, or running fast. Depending on the time of the year, (pre-competition etc.) on an average a professional tennis player should dedicate, 30% of the total work time, to an effective tennis training program. A good fitness program will include strength training, agility training, power training, speed training, aerobic / anaerobic training, core training, balance training, coordination training and flexibility training. For a tennis player to make and see an overall improvement in their game, the key is to address all these individualized fitness components with correct intensity and load.

Develop Overall Strength

Up and coming young tennis players need to work more on developing strength, core, and balance. They need to focus on some basic full-body strength exercises, which will help them gain speed and flexibility.

Players who feel weak, and slow around the court, should dedicate more time on agility, and reaction drills and overall strength. This can help you feel lighter and quicker around the court, placing minimal stress and load on the body, thus reducing injuries.

Tennis is a sport that can last for hours, so tennis players need to have a high energy level as well as persistence. Many players will notice the benefits and a marked improvement in their level of strength and power endurance, deep into the last set, after following a specific tennis fitness training program.

Prevent Injuries

Range of movement exercise's and keeping the body supple should be one of the main focuses with all tennis players. They should incorporate stretching as an important part of their tennis fitness program. Self- myofascial release exercises are also very important, as this will help maintain a healthy muscle. Performing tennis exercises regularly, not only helps in overall performance, but also helps, prevent and reduce injuries within tennis players. Doing some stretching exercises everyday after practice will boost muscle flexibility, this would further decrease the risk of injuries in the future.

The Perfect Solution

Often players can be seen giving excuses that they can not give time to training due to their tight schedules and continuous tournaments. A perfect solution to this is to perform a 20-30 min (Starter) tennis fitness workout prior to your regular tennis practice. Over time this will not only help improve your level of tennis fitness, but these starter workouts will have you warm, get your feet moving, and have you ready to go for the start of each practice. (no more wasting 10mins of your court time). If you can do these starter workouts 3-4 times a week, prior to each practice, you and your coach will be surprised how much more effective your time on court will be.

At Tennis Fitness, we provide training for tennis and tennis programs for players of all levels. We offer specific exercises for tennis fitness and online tennis programs that are proven to work. We help improve tennis footwork, speed, agility, core, power and strength.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Marco Bitran: Tennis Serve Exercises - Improving Your Speed Without Exercising


Tennis serve exercises can help you become a stronger player all around, making it harder for your opponent to attack back. There are plenty of exercises that you can do however regardless of what you do you won't be able to add any speed to your serve unless you have the correct form and know what you are doing.

Firstly you will want to make sure that you are in control of your shot. You don't want to add speed to a shot that you can't even keep in, you will want to make sure that you can easily control it and place it in various corners of the court to be a trouble to your opponent otherwise it is going to be worthless which is not what you want.

Once you have got the control under control the next thing you can do is learn how to add more speed into it.

Put the ball further in front

You will want to toss the ball slightly further in front so that you are moving your body more into the shot, with your body weight behind this you increase the power and the speed of your shot but you will want to make sure that you follow through as this can add more power and it also gets you into a position where you are ready for the return that may come back.

Don't spin the ball

Many people add spin to put off their opponents but by doing this you are slowing the ball down. If you are finding the spin to be ineffective then don't use the spin and instead replace it with speed that you can place in the main 3 areas of the court (down the middle, wide and at the body of your opponent).

Rotate yourself

Most power will come from the coil and the rotation of your shoulders and your waist. The serve is a full body process and you will want to make sure that you use your while body for this as it can help contribute to the speed and power of the shot.

A heavier racquet

You can purchase a heavier racquet which can add more power to your shot however you need to realize that a heavier racquet is going to put your arm under a lot of pressure as you aren't going to be used to the weight of it. You can also buy lead strips that you can add to your racquet making it heavier to a weight that you can actually keep controlled (make sure that you evenly distribute the weight).

Hitting down the middle

If you hit the ball down the middle, the ball essentially doesn't have to travel a huge distance meaning that you will have a faster and more powerful serve than trying to aim the ball over at the wide areas of the court.

You don't need tennis serve exercises to increase the speed of your serve, all you need to do is know what things you can do to increase the speed such as the ones that are shown above but there are many various things that you can as well.

Tennis serve exercises are important however to keep you healthy and also to keep your strength up in the game but there are alternatives you can go through if you know how (such as shown above). If you want to make your serve more deadly then something you can do is check out this blog where you can find more information on the serve and how you can improve it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Marco Bitran: Improve Tennis Serve - The Advantages and Disadvantages of Your 4 Serves


If you want to improve your tennis serve then you are going to have to be able to hit the 4 different types of serves, each one with its advantages and each one which can cause your opponents problems if you are able to use them properly, keeping you in control of the game and your opponent off rhythm and always on the defense.

You need to learn how to effectively hit these strokes so that when the time is right you can pull a different one out of the bag keeping your opponent on their toes.

The 4 main shots you can use are the kick, top spin, flat and the slice. There is no better one out of them as they have their advantages and they also have their disadvantages but knowing when to use them can make you very troublesome for your opponent. By knowing this you will know when to mix them up in the game.

Flat Service

Advantages - The flat serve is a fast and powerful shot that you can do which if placed correctly can win you points. This is the main one that many beginners use as they can't add spin on the ball yet but it is very effective is you know where to place it.

Disadvantages - This is a very easy one for your opponent to hit back as it is just straight forward so you will need to make sure that you can control it and place it in paces that are hard for them to adjust to and return.


By hitting the ball from the bottom to the top on the service you can create a load of spin on the ball which can be very tricky for your opponent to return.

Advantages - when performed correctly your opponent will find it hard to return and with the spin added it can make their return poor. It also gives you enough time to make it over to the net if they do end up returning allowing you to create a strong volley.

Disadvantages - It is easy to tell when spin is coming and the effectiveness will be lost if the opponent attacks the ball off the rise.


Brushing the ball from the right can create the slice which can be hard for an opponent to get to and return.

Advantages - Depending on which way you slice you can either make the ball move away or towards the opponents body which can put them in an awkward position where they have to readjust or go off court to reach it allow you and open court to smash a volley in.

Disadvantages - many people use this shot now and it is becoming one that people are used to returning now so not one to use frequently on the court.

The Kick

Just like a topspin you want to hit this from the bottom to the top (at an angle) and if done correctly can be trouble.

Advantage - When the ball hits the ground it travels in the opposite direction when it bounces off the ground confusing the opponent as the ball travels away or towards them in an instant and putting them into uncomfortable positions.

Disadvantages - It's hard to learn and perform and without enough experience performing this can put your opponent in a good position to make a return.

If you want to improve your tennis serve then understanding these 4 serves will be beneficial for you as you will know their advantages so you will know which one to play to mix up the game and throw your opponent off.

There are plenty of ways to improve tennis serve, exercises, drills, and things such as learning more about the serve can make you a deadly opponent from the service line. If you want to make your serve more deadly then something you can do is check out this blog where you can find more information on the serve and how you can improve it.