As a very keen tennis player, and a huge advocate of trying to learn new things every day, I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my game. As well as my daily tennis sessions, I am incredibly fortunate to get to play with some top players at the Necker Cup, as well as on my travels.
Forgive my name-dropping, but I’ve picked up many tips from sharing the court with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal, Milos Raonic, Ana Ivanovic, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Martina Navratilova and many others. For all my fellow avid tennis players out there, I wanted to pass some of them on.
Recently at the Necker Cup, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki was kind enough to share some advice. She told me, as a right hander, to keep my left hand pointing towards the ball until after I have hit it during normal play. Caroline also told me her dad used to make her do a press up every time she didn’t move her feet three times before a shot, to make sure she never got lazy. Now that’s commitment! Having good footwork is crucial for setting up every shot. She’s a brilliant player, absolutely delightful, and I’m confident she will get back to the top spot in the not too distant future.
She reminded me of a tip I got a few years ago from another superb player, Jennifer Capriati. She simply told me: “Explode upwards.” Getting your energy moving upwards and forwards on the serve can make all the difference – it’s something I try to put into practice each serve.
The serve can make all the difference, and is one of the biggest gaps between pros and amateurs. Grigor Dimitrov also said that 80 per cent of his serve was to do with the throw up. Practice, practice, practice to get that right. I also try to keep the hand I throw the ball with on the serve up as long as possible to keep my body upright.
My most memorable tip came from Andre Agassi, who happened to phone me when I was set point down on the court at Necker. I took the call, and asked for his help. He said: “Watch the ball and move your feet.” I did what he said and managed to win the set.
The biggest tip I have picked up from watching how the top players play, in comparison to us mere mortals, is the way they use their whole body. A lot of us just use our arms, but their whole body is behind every shot. Grigor Dimitrov is a great example of this, it helps each stroke feel so fluent, and the ball just screams across the court with power and accuracy.
Getting tips from amazing players is something I absolutely treasure, and I’m happy to pass them on to others. For us keen tennis players, they are little gems. Some may be fairly obvious, but if you put them together you can improve.
What’s your top tennis tip? Share it on social, and let us know if my tips work for you on the courts.