Developing Proper Muscle Memory in your Backhand (Using a Resistance Cord), by Jofre Porta
Objective: This exercise will help you develop strength and good fundamentals for your backhand. By performing this drill correctly, you will develop a sound coiling motion while you strengthen not only your core and arms, but also your entire body, while giving you the leg stability you need to hit a solid backhand.
Description: Place a resistance cord in the back fence of the court and tie the other end around the tip of your racquet. Move forward so the cord is tight, but to the point that you are still comfortable to swing the racquet with relative ease. The farther forward you move, the difficulty of each swing will increase.
This is a wonderful drill no matter if you hit a one-handed or two-handed backhand. The main focus of this drill is in the distance that the racquet travels to the point of contact. This part of the swing requires the most stability and proper technique.
Your body should "screw down" into the court, with your knees bent, rotating the hips and coiling the entire body. The legs are activated with the initial turn of the hips; then transfer your momentum into the court as you swing forward and keep your head still throughout the entire motion.
For the one-handed backhand, move your non-hitting arm toward the back fence to enhance a solid center of balance by countering the racquet arm.
Another benefit that you will incorporate into your backhand with this drill is a much more solid point of contact. The faster the ball comes at you, the more important the solid contact becomes.
The second part of the drill is to take the racquet from the point of contact backward to the starting position of the backhand IN SLOW MOTION. This will train your muscle memory and every part of your body, including your brain to perform the proper motion and stability in sync.
Shadow tennis and slowing down your motion is a very effective way of learning and retraining new mechanics and techniques. You can do it as a warm up, cool down or in between practice shots. It is a great mental exercise to practice the correct shadow swings after making a technical mistake.
With the addition of the resistance cord, we believe your training session will include variety, a great element of explosiveness, and better fundamentals not only in your strokes but also in your footwork.
The drills in the upcoming newsletters will help you incorporate the resistance cord into all the components of your training sessions. October's newsletter will focus on your forward and backward footwork followed up by November, when we will show you how to integrate technique and footwork together with the proper use of the resistance cord.
Jofre Porta has already had a remarkably successful coaching career. He is the man who coached Carlos Moya from the juniors to becoming the French Open Champion in 1998, all the way to helping Moya become the #1 player in the world in 1999. Jofre also played a critical role in coaching Rafael Nadal in his formative years (between the ages 8 to 17). Jofre was in charge of helping Nadal getting established on the right foot as a professional.
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