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Jim Bates
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Here are some useful tips to help improve your game:

Down the Line Backhand

This is a shot that should be used more often. Here are a few tips to help you do that.

One Handed Backhand – (right handed player)

  • Need a big backswing, use the left hand to pull the racquet back, pull it back until the right shoulder starts to come forward, As you do this, open the right toe and step forward to the ball, Swing Straight through the ball toward a spot about 3 feet inside the Singles side line. Hold your swing til the deltoid finishes high and the racquet finishes above the wrist.
  • Celebrate your great shot by moving towards the middle of the court and look for either an inside out forehand or hit behind the player back to the same spot you just hit the backhand.
  • Always be ready for another shot, don’t ever think you have hit the winner, simply be in position for the next shot and TAUNT your opponent.

Two Handed Backhand – (right handed)

  • Gradually move back at an angle while you are running sideways. Make sure the racquet is all the way back. You will be so turned that your right shoulder Blade is pointing to the ball. It will look as if you are aiming for the alley, then open the right toe, and power Straight through the ball, pulling it from the outside IN. The ball will come from the alley into the court by 3 feet.
  • Try not to open the body up entirely, but press forward through the court.
  • Most 2 handers hit cross court 80% of the time, get this shot to mix it up.
  • Set up and be ready for the Forehand inside out or behind the player. Taunt your opponent.

The Ideal Tennis Player's Diet

The diet of a tennis player is a lot different to that of the average person’s regular diet. This is due to the nutritional requirements of the human body as it is pushed through the rigorous training schedule that is involved in tennis. With the advances in science and knowledge surrounding food and its benefits, players and coaches are striving to be at the forefront of nutrition in order to gain any advantage they can.

The modern tennis player understands the need not only to train and play hard on the court, but also, to prepare themselves in every single way, they know that, regardless of talent and training, they will never reach the highest level of performance if they do not fuel their bodies to cope with the strain. Taking that into account it becomes imperative that the correct tennis diet is not overlooked.

Eat Big, Play Fast

Top tennis players need to be fast, powerful, agile and have massive endurance levels and as such, they need the muscles to power these traits. In order to build the required muscles you will require plenty of protein in your diet. It is important to remember that you should always stick to your diet, don’t just use it at competition time; a good tennis diet is built over time.

A well balanced diet for a tennis player must consist of all the necessary components that make a healthy body, so you will need to take in nutrients from all of the food groups in order to keep up good levels of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and water. You can help yourself in this process by choosing fresh food rather than processed food, as fresh food will hold more of the required nutrients.

Carbohydrates to Combat Fatigue

Tennis player’s use up an incredible amount of energy during training and matches, so you will need to increase your intake of carbohydrates in order to power your muscles and combat fatigue. On average a professional male tennis player can burn up to 1500 calories during a match, so it is extremely important to refuel correctly. Carbohydrates are ideal for this as any high carbohydrate food will provide you with nutrients to replace what was lost and also fibre and energy to keep you going.

Recent studies have shown that the optimum amount of carbohydrate intake is 7-10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. Foods that are high in complex carbohydrates are bread, potato’s pasta, rice and breakfast cereal. You can also find carbohydrates in things such as chocolate, but this should only be used to give yourself a quick boost of energy and should not be part of your regular diet.

Protein in your Tennis Diet

As mentioned previously, it is also vitally important to have a good intake of protein. This is essential to build up the muscles you will need to power your body throughout the game. Protein is broken down into amino acids, which not only help to build muscle but also aid the development of haemoglobin. Protein is also a key tool in quick recovery and injury prevention.

As a tennis player you should be consuming two to three servings of protein rich foods per day in order to keep healthy levels within your body. Protein rich foods are things like, fish, eggs, cheese and oatmeal cereal.

Fruit, Vegetables and Fluid Intake

As well as protein and carbohydrate rich food, a good tennis diet should consist of plenty of fruit and vegetables as these are a natural source of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you will need to maintain your fitness levels for the tennis season. A healthy diet for a tennis player should consist of three to five servings of fresh vegetables as well as at least four servings of fruit per day. As a guide, half a cup of cooked vegetables would be equal to one serving.

As well as your intake of solid foods, it is essential to keep yourself fully hydrated at all times. Even if you don’t feel thirsty you should be consuming fluid throughout the day. Tennis players should be looking to consume 80 ounces of water on a daily basis. Professional players will drink copious amounts of water throughout the day and night preceding matches, as it will ensure that their bodies are functioning at peak rate at all times.

As well as water, you should also be supplementing your fluid intake with sports drinks, as they will replace the sodium, protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes that you will lose during competition. These sports drinks are essential to replenish stocks of these nutrients immediately and can prove invaluable during the change of ends.

Healthy Fat?

When it is suggested that a healthy diet should contain fats, there is often a pessimistic standoff. Fats, by very nature sound unhealthy, but in order to maintain a healthy tennis diet, they are essential. Consuming the right amount of healthy fats will slow down the absorption of carbohydrates in the body, which in turn will prolong the energy supply that you have build up in your diet. This becomes essential during long matches.

Ideally, healthy fats should make up fifteen percent of your daily calorie intake, in order to get the optimum effect. Foods which provide a good source of healthy fats are nuts, fatty fish such as mackerel and eggs.

Are Supplements Necessary?

It is also beneficial to use supplements alongside your healthy diet, in order to maximise your body’s ability. Supplements such as creatine can provide help for men in their quest for high intensity bouts of physical activity that will occur in the longer format adopted by the male players in grand slam tournaments. Although it is important to remember that creatine itself does not increase endurance and can increase weight gain, so you should tailor your diet to suit your intake of creatine. Before committing to prolonged use of creatine supplements you should seriously look into the facts surrounding it. There are arguments both for and against its use and necessity in a healthy diet. There are reported side effects to its use, such as, kidney disease, heart problems and even male erectile dysfunction. Although there is no concrete proof of any of these issues, it is certainly something to think about before undertaking this course of action, especially when you can achieve the same goals through hard work and a healthy diet alone.

Whether you play tennis socially as a hobby or you want to become the world number one, the benefits of a healthy diet, tailored to your tennis requirements cannot be underestimated. With the right amount of nutrients and a specific diet, you can get the best out of yourself and improve every aspect of your life.

How to Handle the Lob

First things first, understand that you do NOT want to be stuck in a lob game. The object should be to anticipate hitting 15-30 overheads in a 2 set match. Never back away from the net to cover the lob. Always show the opponents the same look, then instead of moving forward to attack, move back ONE step and TURN. You do not have to hit a winning overhead on the 1st shot. You are simply taking the lob away by taking it out of the air and shortening the point. You must continue forward after hitting the overhead and attack the net (even if you anticipate another lob) to keep the ball deep.

Your partner must move back with you until you commit (MINE), then he/she must rush the net to attack off of your overhead with the same intension's as a poach off of a serve. Placement is better than power. If you can hit the angle overhead, great. If not, aim for the middle and plan on hitting 2 overheads every time. Quit hitting to the player that lobs... Make he/she pay for the partners lob and I bet they will have words, thus stopping the lob. Good luck and take a few more practice overheads in the warm-up.

Service Toss

A lot of players have a rough time with the toss. If the toss is off… So is your serve. There is an easy way to remember what to do on the toss, let the serve tell you what is wrong:

  • Serve is long = toss is late/ behind you/ or too close
  • Serve is in the net = toss is too low or you let it drop

Follow those simple fixes and at least you will know what you are doing wrong. This is how to fix them from a right handed 1st serve perspective:

  • Keep the left(tossing) arm inside the left leg
  • Raise and extend the arm up AS the body goes forward (synchronized)
  • Extend the hand and arm above your head
  • Toss – DO NOT THROW – about 2-3 feet above your hand

The toss should go about a foot or 2 in front of you and slightly to the left. This will allow you to hit the ball with a slight spin and strong. Remember this is for a first serve.

Second Serve:

  • Toss above your head and slightly back
  • If you have a hat on… let the ball come back above the rim of the hat
  • Lift up and out with loose hands and explosive body

The loose hand will ensure the ball to go over and in. If you hold on too tight you will miss long or in the net.

There are many variations on the toss positions for the type of serve:

  • Slice - to the right and in front
  • Kick – above the head and back to the racquet
  • Flat – straight in front
  • Slider – Back and to the right

Good luck and always remember… The pro’s are having a HUGE day when they serve at 75%

Cutting off the Middle in Doubles Play

In Doubles the first thing you must understand is the Middle is your Friend. As a colleague calls it "Hills and Valleys". The players are the hills and the valleys are the areas between them and on the outside of them. Picture it.

Now that you can visualize the middle, let's close it off and make the valley very small. This happens with great communication with your partner. I need the server to hit the serve to either the body (sliding from the middle in) or to the "T". These two serves line up the return for the middle. Now it is up to our Fearless net player to "Cut off the Middle". The key to a good poach is to know you are going before the point starts. You almost have to get into the mental state before you can get into the physical. If the net player tells the server to go up the "T", this should allow the net player to take the middle and volley it back down the middle (NOT to the other net player).

When the serve goes more into the body, there is less movement towards the middle as the ball should go up and towards the net player (be aware of the lob). Look for the ball to be attempted towards cross court, but very likely it will come to the net player.

Now when this "Fearless Net player makes this move, the server must stay with the path of the ball UNTIL the net player makes contact, then He/She moves to the other side of the court. Please don't end up in "I Formation".

Have fun "Cutting off the Middle". The better you get at it, the more you will see shots down the line. That is called "Risk vs. Reward". If you get passed, you are doing your job. Follow my rule of 3 strikes:

  1. 1st pass is Lucky;
  2. 2nd pass they are having a good day;
  3. and 3rd pass they know how to do it, cover the line.

Summer Tips


Some of you may remember a few years back I spent the night in the hospital for dehydration/over-hydration. How is this possible? First things first, don’t play a national grass court tournament at 3PM on the 10th of June in Arizona.

If you are a player that sweats a lot, you are more likely to over hydrate. The electrolytes are leaving your system with each droplet of sweat. In this case you must replace the electrolytes with at least a 2 to 1 ratio of sports drink to water. My suggestion is Cytomax. You can find it at any Hi Health or GNC. Cytomax is the easiest way to stop/prevent cramping and replace your electrolytes. I have not cramped in the last 3 years since using Cytomax. My personal usage for a 2 hour workout is 48 ounces of Cytomax and 24-32 ounces of water. I start drinking the Cytomax 15 minutes prior to the workout.

If you don’t sweat as profusely as the rest of us, the 2 to 1 ratio is with water to a sports drink. Hydrate prior to your tennis as well as after the match.


Click here to see examples of proper stretching before playing.

Forehand Volley

The trick to the forehand volley is the index finger (1st one next to thumb). Spread the fingers out as far as they can go with the index finger spread away from the others in a upward formation. Your grip is in the continental position. Keep the racquet head with your head... Don't let the racquet head drop. Keep the knees bent at least 4 inches, on the toes with your shoulders leaning forward, and go to the ball. As you are using your toes to push you forward, turn your wrist to adjust the racquet face towards the ball, then close the face slightly with that index finger pushing down and through the ball. The best spot to hit the ball is anywhere past the service line, unless you have the easy angle.

A good reminder for the volley is... wherever you are standing on the court, try to hit at least to the same area on the opposite side. Example: If I am on the service line, I don't want to try to hit inside the service line on the opposite side, I want to hit to at least the service line, if not deeper.

Return of Serve

  1. Pick your spot: Tell the server where you want them to serve. If you have a better forehand… Leave 60% more space in that side of the box. Give the server a box that looks open to the side you want to return from. Be aware of the wide serves. If your opponent can hit it there, close it off by moving in.
  2. Stance: You must get low, what you think is low… go another 2 inches down. Slightly turned, angle yourself to the server. Be on the toes with the shoulders leaning forward.
  3. Scout the serve: If you watch the left shoulder (right handed player) at the point where they let go of the toss. Wherever the shoulder is pointing to when the ball is tossed, is where the ball will be served. This allows you to cheat a bit and set up for either a backhand or a fore hand. Also watch the patterns. Most players only have two spots that they can serve to.
  4. Grip: The ideal grip is neutral and loose. If you have it in a backhand grip, it will take you that much longer to get it to the fore hand.
  5. Backswing: Shorten the backswing when the serve is powerful. If the serve is weak, swing away. Power – short backswing, turn the body, and push through the ball using the pace of the serve. Weak – Move in, racquet back, lift the legs up and through the ball as if it were an approach shot.
  6. Follow Through: It’s not just the arms, make sure the opposite leg follows forward. Stay on the toes, and either go in to the net or retreat to the center hash mark.

Remember, the server is supposed to win their serve. If you can be aggressive on the return they will break down mentally. It also gives you the cushion you want to have to serve away when you are up a “break”.

Inside Out Forehand

When hitting the inside out forehand you must take in to consideration 3 major components:

  1. Make sure the ball is above the hip to ensure time to get around the ball.
  2. Hit it with the same kind of intensity you would have on an approach shot.
  3. Follow the ball to the middle of the court... Creep in towards the service line "T".

The whole reason you are running around the backhand to hit the forehand, is to open the court with authority. Footwork is the a key element to this shot. You want to take the right foot back behind the left, turning the shoulders and hips, then step in to the ball with a huge swing using those hips and shoulders you just brought back, and follow through towards that "T". Good luck and let me know how it helps your game.

Drop shot

Catch and Release. This means you must learn how to catch a tennis ball on your strings prior to hitting the drop shot. Soft hands are a must. The trick to the drop shot is to catch the ball with the racquet while pushing the body forward towards the net to cover the next shot. Always approach the net after your drop shot!

Drop shot