Active Away 2018 Highlights

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: 2018 Highlights

First off,

a quick introduction: my name is James and earlier this year I joined Active Away on a 12 month internship after graduating from the University of Nottingham. During my time at Uni I was fortunate to spend a large portion of time training alongside, playing with and observing some of the top talents in University and college tennis. In addition to this, when back home, I’ve spent the last 8 years working as a tennis coach at my local club Kenilworth Tennis Club in Warwickshire, eventually hearing about Active Away through clients of the company who play at Kenilworth. Having been fortunate enough over the last couple of months to sample some of Greece’s highest rated resorts I felt this was the perfect opportunity to kickstart this blog series by revisiting some of my personal highlights with Active Away from 2018 whilst also providing an insight into my thoughts on the resorts I visited. [br][br]

Daphnila Bay

I began my autumn season at one of the smaller resorts that Active Away tennis holidays frequents – Grecotel Daphnila Bay, Corfu. What this resort lacks in size it more than makes up for with its natural beauty. Corfu has long been regarded as one of the more beautiful Greek islands and Daphnila Bay, situated on the Eastern Coast, is no exception with lush greenery throughout the resort right down to the water’s edge. The resort’s well-maintained tennis courts are situated on slightly higher ground to the side of the hotel, providing fantastic vistas. The close nature of the tennis set up at Daphnila Bay made for great social afternoon sessions, with the banter flying from court to court as scores got close and friendly rivalries were born. That said, my standout point of my time in Corfu came away from the tennis court. The resort has recently moved up to 5* and one key area its improved in has been the food. A sprawling buffet and 2 beachfront “speciality” restaurants, one Greek and one Italian, mean that guests have plenty of options to choose from. However, it would be foolish to think that this quantity negatively affects the quality and, on more than one occasion, I heard our guests remark that this was the best catered tennis holiday they’d ever experienced. A highlight of mine, which I feel encapsulates the Corfu Active Away tennis holiday experience, was sitting down as a group after an action packed doubles social afternoon at the beachside Greek restaurant to sample the endless meze options whilst overlooking the tranquil Daphnila Bay. Great views, good food and a delightful tennis holiday set up. What more could you want from your tennis holiday? [br][br]

Lyttos Beach

What makes for the best tennis holiday is a question we often debate in the office. However, it goes without saying that the tennis facilities themselves are a vital part of any Active Away holiday. This brings us onto Lyttos beach, a 4* resort based in Crete with big ambitions in the tennis world. Offering 27 courts across 3 surfaces of acrylic, artificial grass and artificial clay it’s easy to see why the ITF circuit is also a regular visitor to this venue. I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks of this season at Lyttos Beach and can honestly say I never tired of the setup there. The variety of surfaces meant a new experience for many of our clients at the beginning of the week and it was always great to end the week with our Champagne Social and see so many big smiles as people, having adapted to a new surface, began to put into practice their newly learnt doubles tactics! The end of the week also meant a trip to the vibrant local town of Hersonnisos. Stepping outside of the all-inclusive bubble for the first time in a while meant I had my initial reservations. These could not have been more wide of the mark. Active Away has visited Kymata restaurant for years and it’s not hard to see why. A superb array of food was washed down with a glass of wine and a couple of ouzos and, before you knew it, the whole group was on their feet singing along toNeil Diamond, Whitney Houston and other classics. The restaurant is positioned right on the seafront (Kymata means ‘waves’ in Greek) and it’s a fantastic end to cap off the week before dancing the evening away and enjoying a cocktail or two at nearby bar New York! [br][br]

Kalimera Kriti

Just down the road from Lyttos Beach, along the North Coast of Crete, lies Kalimera Kriti, a new resort for Active Away in 2018. The first thing that struck me about Kalimera Kriti was the setting. Behind the resort’s 6 impeccably maintained artificial grass courts lies a stunning mountain range and gorge which provides a staggering backdrop for a morning on the courts. This venue certainly delivers a tennis holiday with a view. The resort itself was built with a traditional sense in mind, with the bungalows and rooms being laid out in a style designed to emulate that of a Cretan village. The courts lie just a stone’s throw away from the accommodation making it a short walk to your room to get changed for the evening after an absorbing social afternoon of doubles! [br][br]

Sani

My travels for the season concluded with a trip to the famed Sani Resort which was recently voted within the top 5 resorts in Europe and number 6 in the world! I’d heard much about Sani before travelling there, both in the office and from our clients, but the resort still managed to exceed my expectations. The attention to detail and service is incredible, with everything right down to the daily room supply of teabags accounted for. The resort offers 6 Canadian clay courts, which are well maintained daily and present a new experience to many of our clients. My week in Sani took place during one of Active Away’s popular family weeks and the fact that all the courts were so close together meant for a brilliant tennis experience whereby the adult sessions could be spread across 3 courts and the kids, separated by their relevant levels and abilities, played on the adjacent 3 courts. Looking back on my Sani experience, there were two particular moments that stood out for me as highlights. Firstly, partying the evening away at the infamous Sani ‘White Party’ for which guests are encouraged to dress all in white, order a cocktail and take in the relaxing ambience of beachfront Bousolas bar. Reaching the middle of the week and seeing so many newly made friends dancing and laughing the night away was a fantastic experience. My second highlight would have to be the end of week tournament. With it being a family week, this provided a great opportunity for parents to join forces with their kids and face off against other families and the light hearted nature and good feeling that encapsulated this tournament was the perfect way tosign off a season of delivering 5* tennis holidays!
Blog Images5

Active Away Tennis Blog: Corporate Launch

This Wednesday marked an important date in the Active Away diary for several reasons. Firstly, it was the launch of our Corporate Tennis Events, an occasion attended by a variety of highly regarded figures from a wealth of professional backgrounds. Secondly, the launch coincided with our filming with the BBC for Pitches to Riches, their popular follow up show to Dragons Den. The day began with a light brunch and a chance to get to know everyone before guests were treated to a hilarious performance by impressionist Josh Berry, who served up impersonations of Federer, McEnroe, Murray and more! With everyone here and in good spirits, it was time to hit some balls and all the guests made their way to the courts for a fast paced morning session focusing on doubles gameplay and tactics led by Josh, Charlie and Sean. As always, the team brought a fantastic energy to court and it was great to see so many smiles and such a positive atmosphere as everyone really bought into the session. For Steve and Matt, the morning began with an interview in front of the cameras, discussing Active Away and the progress the company has made since its Dragons Den appearance. After this, the BBC wanted some on court action shots and with this being the follow up show to Dragons Den, what better way to do this than set up a doubles match between Steve and Matt and Dragon investor Peter Jones and his son, Will. A personal highlight of my day was watching this doubles match as not only was it really interesting watching the BBC at work courtside but it was also nice to see Peter and his son having such a great time on court and experiencing what Active Away is all about. Just before we broke for lunch, Peter addressed the group thanking everyone for attending before introducing Josh as a new director of the company and giving credit to the hard work of the team behind the scenes. It was then time for a well-earned bite to eat and Virgin Active Riverside Chiswick laid on a superb lunch of healthy nibbles and refreshments for those in attendance. The lunch also allowed chance for those in attendance to have some time to get to know each other and network amongst the group. Active Away prides itself on the social aspect of these occasions and our Corporate Launch was no exception with the team having chance to catch up with familiar faces as well as becoming familiar with some of the newer ones in attendance. After lunch, everyone gathered round and listened as the teams were read out for the afternoon’s Pro AM tournament. Guests were organised into teams with a selection of famous names from the tennis world such as Dom Inglot, Marcus Willis, Greg Whitecross and Matt Short all playing in and captaining teams. With timed, quick-fire rounds and sudden death deuces aplenty, the tournament made for enjoyable watching and the banter flew as our guests battled away alongside and against players they’d more often than not only seen on the TV. Following on from 5 rounds of exciting matches, it was time to find out the winners and for the presentation to begin. After some closely contested matches, Matt’s Moroccans were eventually crowned victorious and each were presented with trophies by Josh in front of the assembled guests and BBC cameras. With that done, there was time for Steve to say a few words of thanks and to present each guest with a goodie bag before it was time to wrap up Active Away’s first ever corporate day! All in all the day was a total success and I think I speak for all of the Active Away team when I say we can’t wait until our next Corporate Tennis Event. Catch us on the new series of Pitches to Riches!
Blog Images4

The best tennis camp location

Our team at Grand Slam Tennis Camps are renowned for their careful selection of potential venues for our tennis camps.

 

For 2018 we’ve selected the prestigious New Hall School in Chelmsford.

From the moment Grand Slam Camp players first travel up the mile-long, tree-lined avenue that leads to the grand façade of the former Tudor palace, they will be made to feel welcome and excited.

Chelmsford is officially the UK’s hottest spot, with its own microclimate! Summers in Chelmsford have hit the heights of 35.2 degrees celsius.  The city is ideally placed; the coast is a short drive away, as are historic Colchester and Cambridge.

The outstanding facilities on offer within the stunning 85-acre campus will cater for a camper’s every need.

New Hall is set in an idyllic and convenient location, just 30 minutes by train from London and within easy reach of all major London airports.

 

Food:

At New Hall, there is an offer a wide choice between hot and cold food, with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and salads. Proposed menus are reviewed by Nutritionist, Dr Juliet Gray RD RPH, along with the School’s medical team in the Health Centre. Weekly menus are put onto our website by our Caterers. We offer our campers a widely varied, healthy and tasty diet. We also attempt to cater for all tastes and preferences, including vegetarian.

When you’ve been running around on the tennis court you need to re-fuel regularly so there are also snack breaks to keep those energy levels up. Water is available throughout the day and coaches will always be encouraging players to maintain hydration.

We cater for students who have alternative diets or food allergies. Just advise us when booking.

Accommodation:

The modern and well equipped boarding houses have been carefully designed to be a ‘home from home’. All based on the stunning campus, each player will have their very own Single Room.

Facilities available to boarders include: common areas in each house with TV, DVD, computers (for work and play) and piano; sports hall, swimming pool, athletics track, tennis and netball courts, fitness suite and floodlit AstroTurf pitch; ICT suite; Eaton Theatre; The Library; and not forgetting the beautiful gardens and grounds.

On Site Facilities:

  • 24 hour security
  • Swimming Pool
  • 10x All weather Hard Tennis courts
  • 8x Astro Turf Tennis Courts
  • Astro Turf soccer pitches
  • Indoor Sports Hall
  • Theatre
  • Athletics Track
  • Fitness Suite

As you can see this is the perfect Venue for our Grand Slam Camps.

 

We look forward to welcoming you on our 2018 Tennis Camp!

Blog Images3

Why Grand Slam Tennis Camps, by Active Away?

Grand Slam Tennis Camps are no ordinary tennis camps, we use current professional tennis players to host and lead our tennis programme.

Head Coach at the tennis camps in 2018 is Marcus Willis a former top 300 ATP player, who recently played Roger Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon in 2016, and Jocelyn Rae who won Gold at the 2010 Commonwealth games, has competed at every Grand Slam and represented Great Britain in the Fed Cup.

Jocelyn and Marcus will be on hand throughout the week to ensure your child has a tennis camp experience like no other – learning what it takes to play at the highest level.

 

Alongside the professional players, we have a coaching team with a wealth of experience; Matt, who managed the U12 Great Britain teams, Steve, who has produced numerous international level players and Josh, who has worked at various academies around the world. You can be sure that your child’s tennis camp and coaching experience will be like no other.

 

Your son/daughter with stay at Henry V111’s former Tudor Palace – New Hall School in Chelmsford, only 30 minutes from London, and have their very own bedroom. We believe it’s important for children to have their own personal space, and this adds to the tennis camp experience.

Chelmsford is officially the UK’s hottest spot! Summers in Chelmsford have hit the heights of 35.2 degrees Celsius, so you can be sure of a fun filled summer tennis camp.

Getting to the tennis camp couldn’t be easier – Stansted Airport is just 45 minutes from New Hall, whilst Gatwick and Heathrow airports are only one hour 30 minutes away, all of which offer international transfers. There is also London Southend Airport within 30 minutes of New Hall School, which offers transfers to locations such as Geneva, Spain and Italy. By rail, New Hall School is only 30 minutes from London, from Chelmsford’s train station.

</br/>

We look forward to welcoming you on our 2018 Tennis Camp!

Blog Images2

Jocelyn Rae – Grand Slam Camps by Active Away

Jocelyn Rae

Grand Slam Tennis Camps are no ordinary tennis camps, we use current professional tennis players to lead our tennis camp programme.

 

Heading up our 2018 Summer Tennis Camp is Jocelyn Rae;

 

Jocelyn started playing tennis at the age of 7 at local tennis club Woodthorpe. She had a successful junior career reaching the finals of the prestigious Orange Bowl Championships in Florida at 12 years old and later winning the under 18 UK national championships singles and doubles. Jocelyn represented Great Britain as a junior from the age of 12, and reached a career high junior ITF ranking of world no. 167 in April 2007.

 

One of Jocelyn’s biggest achievements came in 2010 when partnering Colin Fleming, she won the gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth games in Delhi for Scotland. This success saw Jocelyn receive her first Fed Cup call up in 2011, where she partnered Heather Watson to defeat Switzerland followed by Denmark’s pairing of Mai Grage and former world no.1 Caroline Wozniaki.

 

Jocelyn in 2017 made the Quarter Finals of Wimbledon and faced Jamie Murray and Martina Hingis!

 

Jocelyn Rae brings her tour experience to our Summer 2018 Grand Slam Tennis Camps.

She will be heading up the program at our Summer Tennis Camps in 2018 so will be excited to get on court with you.

 

We look forward to welcoming you on our 2018 Tennis Camp!

Blog Images

Marcus Willis – Grand Slam Camps by Active Away

 

 

 

Grand Slam Tennis Camps are no ordinary tennis camps, we use current professional tennis players to host and lead our tennis camp programme.
Heading up the Summer 2018 tennis camps is Wimbledon player; Marcus Willis. Marcus Willis began playing tennis at the age of 9, and reached the No. 15 in the world as Junior, making the latter rounds of the Junior Slams as well as representing Great Britain.
In 2016 – Marcus Willis faced Roger Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

After the match Federer was quoted saying; Marcus Willis brought an unbelievable energy to the court with the fans and his personality, it was refreshing. He came up with some great shot making. I knew it would be different to any other match I have played at Wimbledon, it was a pleasure to play against him.’

In 2017 Marcus Willis became a coach at Warwick Boat Club and is working with a number of top British Junior players.

Marcus Willis brings this wealth of experience on the tour to our Summer 2018 Grand Slam Tennis Camps.

He will be on court throughout the week during our 2018 Summer Camp to advance your tennis to the next level!

We look forward to welcoming you on our 2018 Tennis Camp!

The hot seat header

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: Guide to Improving Your Doubles Part 12

Did you manage to read part 11 last week? We looked at improving you impact on the game from the servers partners perspective. I had some great feedback from that blog post. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to have a read.
In this part we are going to look at the hot seat, you are in the hot seat when you are the returners partner. I have coached so many people who almost seem like they feel this is a position they can have a little rest as they don’t really get to see much of the ball. In this blog I am going to give you a few simple tips that I promise will make a huge difference to you.
Here is the scene, your tennis partner is ready to return serve. You are correctly in the hot seat, but where are you standing? Who are you facing? Boom, while you were thinking your opposition fires their volley past you down the middle of the court. I am guessing we have all felt this at one time or another. I am going to answer these questions and if you go out and put these answers in to practise you will notice an immediate improvement in your doubles:
  1. Where are you standing when you are the returners partner? You should be on the service line next to the T, almost in the centre of the court. The reason for this is that you are plugging the gap that the “Danger Player” (we discussed this in the previous blog) wants to hit in to, this is the easiest place for them to hit their volley. You stand here to give yourself half a chance of scraping that ball back but also to put them off a little, give them something else to think about.
  2. Where are you facing? You should have your hips, shoulders and eyes facing the “danger player” that player is your primary concern. Turn your body to face them, whatever you do, do not turn and look at your partner as they hit their return (this is hospital tennis).
  3. When you start in this position you are in a defensive position and this is where most recreational level players stay. I see very little movement from this position. As soon as the return is hit, one of two things are going to happen. Ether your partner hots a good return and fires it back to the server or its a bad return and the volleyer intercepts. As you are now standing in the correct position if the worst case happens and the “danger player” intercepts they can either volley it at you or go for the angle (good luck with the angle, that’s a 3 out of 10 shot). If your partner hits a good return back to the server this is when you need to move forward and become the “danger player”. The “danger player” position switches throughout the entire rally – so sorry there is no rest for you net players.

Time is short on the doubles court, and the person who understands it best has a huge advantage over others.

Tennis Holidays are a great way to make real progressions in your game, it is an intense week of learning new skills in the morning and putting them in to practise in the afternoons. Being able to play for 20 hours in one week means that you can really make changes in your game fast! Our Tennis Holidays our suitable for all levels whether you are a complete beginner through to county level players – everyone is welcome!

the danger player header

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: Guide to Improving Your Doubles Part 11

Did you manage to read part 10 last? We looked at improving your smash, I had some great feedback from that blog post. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to have a read.

In this post we are going to look at the player who is the servers partner. Picture the scene, your partner is ready to hit their first serve. You are correctly The Danger Player, as you are the first person that can have a real impact on the point (depending on how good your partners serve is). But where are you standing? Who are you focused on? What are you thinking about doing? Where are you aiming? Three questions that we are going to work through the answers to.

  1. Where are you standing? There are two elements to this answer, how far up the court are you and how far in to the court are you. There is no absolute hard and fast rule about where you should be as this will depend on how offensive your partners serve is and how athletic you are. There are however a couple of principles you can follow.
    • In terms how wide you stand the simple rule is you need to be able to cover the trams in one step. At a professional level they probably stand with their outside foot in the middle of the service box, they can get away from this as they read the game fast and incredibly athletic.
    • How far up, as a general rule I would suggest being approx half way up the service box
  2. Who are you focused on? The key player for you here is obviously the returner. Focus all of your concentration on them, make sure you are facing them with an aim to try to intercept the return.
  3. What do you want to do? Your goal is to intercept their return. If they have not once hit down your line you should feel quite free to intercept the return, they might not even be able to hit down the line – ask them this question. Don’t feel like you need to run across the entire court, just ensure that when you move, you move diagonally forward cutting down the angle, you will not need to cross the centre line to intercept effectively.
  4. Where are you aiming? This is simple if you intercept and you make contact with the ball above the height of the net you aim at the shoe laces of your opponent. If the ball is below net height do you best to control the volley back to the baseline. These rules are set – use them and this will make a huge difference to your game.

Tennis Holidays are a great way to make real progressions in your game, it is an intense week of learning new skills in the morning and putting them in to practise in the afternoons. Being able to play for 20 hours in one week means that you can really make changes in your game fast! Our Tennis Holidays our suitable for all levels whether you are a complete beginner through to county level players – everyone is welcome!

Tips for playing tennis on grass

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: Grass Court Tips

The first thing to know about grass courts is that they’re fast – much faster than clay and hard courts.

When the ball hits the surface, blades of grass are flattened and the ball skids off the court fast and low.

By late summer, when the grass has been worn down, you’ll also find the bounce is very unpredictable.

IS IT ALL SERVE-AND-VOLLEY?

Big servers have always been successful at Wimbledon with the ball flying off the surface. And those who have mixed it up with a solid volley have won many titles at SW19.

Serve-and-volley play works for a number of reasons:

  • it keeps the ball off the ground so you avoid unpredictable bounces
  • fast serves are made faster because the ball skids off the court

You should also develop a good sliced backhand since the ball stays lower to the ground.

But it’s not true that only serve-and-volley players prosper – in fact, on the tour there are few serve-and-volleyers left.

Baseline players need to think about ending points quickly as well – if you’re a slogger, it’s important to work on hitting powerful winners and aiming down the line.

IMprove Your Smash

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: Guide to Improving Your Doubles Part 10

Did you manage to read part 9 last week based on improving your volley technique, I had some great feedback from that blog post. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to have a read.

In the part we are going to look at simple ways to improve your smash, specifically at the arm movement. As a doubles player, the smash is an essential weapon in your arsenal since you are looking to spend the majority of your time at the net and closing the net down.

Essential Elements

The key to improving your overhead is understanding, learning, and practising a three essential elements:

  1. Unit turn
  2. Movement (footwork)
  3. The arm swing

In this blog will will focus on the arm movement.

Before I start discussing the arm moevment, I want to stress the necessity to learn and to use the continental grip around the net, on the serve, and on the overhead. The continental grip, along with a good unit turn as described next, is what allows greater racket acceleration and, therefore, ball speed.

The arm swing

The first step to creating a great arm swing, as in all the shots, it is creating the turn position with your feet and torso as described in part 8.

The second step is getting to the tick or trophy position. There are a 2 ways to do this:

  1. The racket drop. The racket falls along the side of the torso with the tip pointing more or less straight down at the court, then swings up like a pendulum in to a tick position creating a lot of momentum.
  2. The abbreviated takeback. Just like on Rafa’s serve the racket doesn’t drop instead it comes straight to the tick/trophy position

You can use either of these methods but bear in mind if you don’t have much time option 2 would be used.

The third step is the swing to contact. The simplest way to think of this is think as though you are throwing your racket at the ball., if you over think this and break it down in to too much detail you will struggle. If you have a correct relaxed service motion, you shouldn’t have to think about all this too much and it will probably happen naturally.

A simple way to improve this motion is to practise throwing, (as a guide you should be to be able to throw the ball from the baseline to at least the service line on the other side), if you cant do this then practise, if you can do this you should be able to generate good racket speed.

Overall, what makes the overhead difficult is the ability to move in position with the proper turn position. The unit turn and the movement, I believe, are the two areas where the average player needs to focus. The arm swing is important, but as your serve arm swing improves in this area so will your overhead swing. As I mentioned above, conquering the ability to do the cross steps as you initiate the turn will go a long way in making the overhead the best part of your game.

The Overhead Game

There is a great live ball overhead drill that I have used many years with my high school doubles teams to work on implementing the overhead in matches.

One team is back at the baseline and one team is at the net. Your coach or one of the back players starts the point by lobbing to the net players. The lob feed should not be too tough or too easy. The net players cannot let the ball bounce either on the lob or the volleys.

After the lob is hit, the point is live. The baseline players can do anything they want — lob, hit, go to the net, etc.

First team to five points wins, then everyone rotates (clockwise) one position and the game starts again. Rotating the positions gives the players practice from both halves of the court, which is important because of the differences in the angles.

This drill is a great way to just get completely comfortable with hitting overheads everywhere on the court. Even if you are a singles player, it gives you the repetitions and the variety of movement and positions on the court that you need.

If you haven’t really developed an overhead, this game can be difficult at first because so many of the overheads are hit while moving back. Overall, though, it’s the best way I know of to develop those critical cross steps. You’ll know you are getting better when the team hitting the overheads starts to win the majority of the games.

Tennis Holidays are a great way to make real progressions in your game, it is an intense week of learning new skills in the morning and putting them in to practise in the afternoons. Being able to play for 20 hours in one week means that you can really make changes in your game fast! Our Tennis Holidays our suitable for all levels whether you are a complete beginner through to county level players – everyone is welcome!

Tennis Crimes

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog : Tennis Crimes part 5

YOURS, YOURS !!!!!

Hi everyone and welcome to part 5 of our tennis crimes series, todays crime is again one we see all the time on our tennis holidays and focuses within the doubles game and really highlights the importance of communication.

So here’s the scenario, you and your doubles partner have attacked the net. Your approach wasn’t fantastic and your tactically astute opponents have been able to guide the ball accurately down the middle causing confusion and disarray between you and your partner… and here comes the crime, both players shout “yours” and the ball sails down the middle of the court for an easy winner with both players unhappy at their partners lack of assertiveness.

 

 

 

 

So ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does your ready position look like?

  2. When should you be in the ready position?

The ready position is the foundation for almost all of your footwork when you are playing tennis. How you move around the tennis court in one way or another relates directly back to your ready position.

[divider scroll_text=””]

ready_position_pros_novak_djokovicA good ready position

  • You want your feet about shoulder width apart, or a little bit wider.
  • Your knees should be slightly bent and your weight should be on the balls of your feet, not the heels.
  • Your upper body should be relaxed, with your arms and the tennis racket out in front of your body.
  • Angle the head of your racket up a little bit.
  • It’s also important that your upper body should not be hunched over, bending forward. Your back should be straight so that with your legs bent it is almost like you are sitting in a chair.
  • Your eyes should be on your opponent and especially the tennis ball, not looking down at the tennis court.
  • Practically speaking, when you are in the ready position you want to be about a foot shorter than your normal height, which is a good athletic height.

“GET READY, STAY READY”

IMprove Your Smash

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: Guide to Improving Your Doubles Part 9

Did you manage to read part 8 last week based on improving your smash we focused on talking about the importance of the unit turn. People seemed to really like it. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to have a read.

In the part we are going to look at the next key element to improving your smash, your movement. The smash is an essential weapon in your arsenal since you are looking to spend the majority of your time at the net and closing the net down.

Essential Elements

The key to improving your overhead is understanding, learning, and practising a three essential elements:

  1. Unit turn
  2. Movement (footwork)
  3. The arm swing

In this blog post will will focus on your movement for the smash, the arm swing will be covered in part 10.

Before I start discussing the movement, again I want to reiterate the necessity to learn and to use the continental grip around the net, on the serve, and on the overhead. The continental grip, along with a good unit turn as described next, is what allows greater racket acceleration and, therefore, ball speed.

Movement

Beyond the technical differences in the preparation, the biggest difference from the serve is that the player must move to the ball. How a player moves his/her feet to position themselves on any shot is key to achieving great success in your game. But on the overhead, the footwork is especially important and can be the difference between having no overhead and a having a very good one.

On the groundstrokes, players with good hands can sometimes get away with bad movement and still make a decent shot. But the overhead is a different story. Unlike the serve, which is hit from the same position on the court every time, the ball on the overhead is moving toward your side of the court. You can hit an overhead from literally anywhere on your side of the net. The ball is also descending from a much greater height than the serve toss. This is important because as the ball drops, it accelerates due to gravity. For these reasons it is vital to be ready when the ball passes through the hitting zone.

The ability to use Carioka (cross) and shuffle (side) are the keys to moving upward and back. These steps can also be used to move on diagonals across the court when the player needs to move sideways at the same time. If you want to maximize your ability to move on most overheads, do not rely only on shuffle steps alone. This is where most players make their first mistake.

Shuffling is an inefficient way of moving either forward or backward when needing to move over a greater distance. There are many instances where you will see a great player shuffle back or forward to hit an overhead, but usually it is on a ball where they have a lot of time, and/or not much movement either forward or back is required.

They come into play on all the shots in the game at certain times. They are just especially critical on the overhead.

Mastering the ability to rotate your body and then use these crossing steps will increase the distance you can cover – and your power on the overhead. The tough thing about gaining this ability is to be able to do it with the arms moving upwards into the air.

Backward Movement

The key to moving backward is to take a cross step backward with the front foot toward the baseline. So the front foot actually crosses over the rear foot in this first move.

In many ways, the best way to practice this crossstep movement is without the ball. Put yourself into the turn position with your arms up and move backward with the front foot crossing in front of the rear foot. Keep practicing it until you can run at full speed and still feel secure in your balance.

As you get more confident with this movement you can experiment with jumping from the back leg to make the upward motion more explosive. Most good players do this on most overheads because they are moving back at the time of the hit to deal with the lob attempts of opponents.

Even on a bounce overhead, the crosscourt movement is usually crucial to getting into position quickly. Even when you get what seems like a relatively easy overhead, get into the habit of taking that initial backwards cross step. You will be amazed how fast and far back you can get using the correct footwork.

Forward Movement

The key to forward movement is similar to the backward movement. When they have any significant distance to cover, the players will use the cross step pattern. Now the first step is forward with the rear foot.

The side on which the rear foot crosses the front foot depends on whether the player is moving forward to the left or right. When the player moves to the right and forward, the rear foot will cross to the right side of the front foot. When moving left and forward, the rear foot will cross to left side of the front foot. In each case, though, the rear foot is stepping towards the net.

Sometimes there is a combination of cross stepping and shuffling after the cross step, depending how far or how fast the player has to move. But, most importantly, the first reaction with your feet is the key. The cross step is what facilitates and maintains the unit turn as a player moves to position for the lob.

Tennis Holidays are a great way to make real progressions in your game, it is an intense week of learning new skills in the morning and putting them in to practise in the afternoons. Being able to play for 20 hours in one week means that you can really make changes in your game fast! Our Tennis Holidays our suitable for all levels whether you are a complete beginner through to county level players – everyone is welcome!

Tennis Crimes

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog : Tennis Crimes part 4

GET READY !!!!!

Hi everyone and welcome to part four of our tennis crimes blog. At active away cannot stress enough how strongly we feel about today’s blog.  Nothing frustrates me more as a tennis coach than seeing one of our players on our tennis holidays about to return a serve but actually looks like they are waiting for a bus.

Ready-Position-Li-Na-Tennis-FixationThe “ready” position is the best way to prepare for an incoming ball, it allows you to be balanced but still allows room to be sharp and move dynamically either way, making it much more difficult for your opponent to cause damage with their strike.

We see a few crimes committed relating to this on our tennis holidays. Firstly the ‘lock up and throw away the key’ crime is never being ready; racket down by your side and flat footed. You are simply fighting a losing battle if you aren’t ready for the ball.

The second crime we see is almost as bad; the player that before the point is about to begin looks so sharp, so strong, so dynamic . However as soon as the point begins they fall back into the flat footed habits they had before just watching the game go past them.

The ready position is not the only thing you need to do be ready, it’s simply the start of having a ready attitude. The work you do in between your shots is crucial in the quest to make every ball you hit the best it can possibly be.

So ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does your ready position look like?

  2. When should you be in the ready position?

The ready position is the foundation for almost all of your footwork when you are playing tennis. How you move around the tennis court in one way or another relates directly back to your ready position.

[divider scroll_text=””]

 

ready_position_pros_novak_djokovicA good ready position

  • You want your feet about shoulder width apart, or a little bit wider.
  • Your knees should be slightly bent and your weight should be on the balls of your feet, not the heels.
  • Your upper body should be relaxed, with your arms and the tennis racket out in front of your body.
  • Angle the head of your racket up a little bit.
  • It’s also important that your upper body should not be hunched over, bending forward. Your back should be straight so that with your legs bent it is almost like you are sitting in a chair.
  • Your eyes should be on your opponent and especially the tennis ball, not looking down at the tennis court.
  • Practically speaking, when you are in the ready position you want to be about a foot shorter than your normal height, which is a good athletic height.

 

“GET READY, STAY READY”

IMprove Your Smash

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: Guide to Improving Your Doubles Part 8

Did you manage to read part 7 last week based on improving your volley technique, I had some great feedback from that blog post. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to have a read.

In the part we are going to look at simple ways to improve your smash. As a doubles player, the smash is an essential weapon in your arsenal since you are looking to spend the majority of your time at the net and closing the net down. If you get a chance to hit an overhead, the point should be over in most cases. It’s true for the pros and it should be true for you, too. The overhead is a put-away shot. If yours isn’t, then you are giving away what should be free points.

[divider scroll_text=””]

Essential Elements

The key to improving your overhead is understanding, learning, and practicing a three essential elements:

  1. Unit turn
  2. Movement (footwork)
  3. The arm swing

[divider scroll_text=””]

 

In this blog will will focus on the unit turn, the movement and arm swing will be covered in parts 9 & 10.

Before I start discussing the three elements, I want to stress the necessity to learn and to use the continental grip around the net, on the serve, and on the overhead. The continental grip, along with a good unit turn as described next, is what allows greater racket acceleration and, therefore, ball speed.

The Unit Turn

Although the overhead is like the serve in obvious ways, in one basic way it is more like the groundstrokes or volleys. This is because it begins with a unit turn. On the overhead, you are generally starting from a ready position. This means you must first turn your shoulders so your body is sideways. Without a good unit turn, you will struggle to develop power or consistency.

The players start in the ready position with the shoulders facing the net and the tips of the toes pointing more or less straight ahead. Basically they turn completely sideways within the first two to three steps. At the end of the unit turn, the tips of the toes are pointed sideways at the sideline. The torso has turned usually 90 degrees until it is square with the net.

A good key to use when learning this position is to point your front shoulder blade toward the ball. If the ball were to fall all the way, it would hit the player on the front shoulder blade.

After the wind-up starts upwards, it continues until you are in a position resembling the trophy position (or a tick) on the serve. I say resembling because there isn’t an exact match. Typically, the player’s left arm will be pointed directly upward similar to the service toss but sometimes it’s even higher. And it can be substantially lower when the time is short.

The amount of time you have on the overhead is another big difference with the serve. The timing of serve is the same with every ball, controlled by the toss height. Because players are hitting a moving ball on the overhead, the timing can be very quick or take up to several seconds. The exact position of the arms varies with this timing.

Sometimes when the time interval is very short, the left arm extends less than a serve. If the players have a large distance to cover, however, they may hold the racket longer in something closer to the classic serve trophy position as they move before beginning the racket drop when they reach to set up position.

Tennis Holidays are a great way to make real progressions in your game, it is an intense week of learning new skills in the morning and putting them in to practise in the afternoons. Being able to play for 20 hours in one week means that you can really make changes in your game fast! Our Tennis Holidays our suitable for all levels whether you are a complete beginner through to county level players – everyone is welcome!