Racquet Director’s Diary

I hope everyone has managed to stay busy and active over the last couple of weeks. Although the Club is closed, we have had some good news with the Padel tennis court planning application being approved. It has been a long wait but now the Club can move on to planning the installation of the courts. It will be an extremely popular addition due to the sport’s main characteristic of being easier to pick up than tennis at the beginner level, it boasts less barriers to entry. It is also engaging for the entire family as it is always played in doubles format. The racquets team are looking forward to creating a vast and varied programme to complement our current racquets offering.

Mutua Madrid Open

Although all professional sport has been cancelled or postponed for the next few months, it has not stopped the ATP and WTA tour from putting on some top-class tennis. The only difference is that the players have swapped their rackets for a PlayStation 4 game controller. With the Mutua Madrid Open postponed due to the coronavirus, the tournament organisers hosted a tennis Esports tournament. It started on Monday 27th and finished on Thursday 30th April and attracted interest from the world’s top players including, Andy Murray, Rafel Nadal, Johanna Konta and many more. The event aimed to raise money and help the tennis players most in need during this time. All the matches are streamed from the Mutua Madrid Open Facebook account. Visit the site for more info: https://www.madrid-open.com/en/mutua-news/the-mutua-madrid-open-virtual-pro-will-be-digital-and-streamed-exclusively-on-facebook-gaming/

Players have been talking about it on Instagram live: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_VP5Spg8Af/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

And taking it seriously, as you see from this clip of Murray commentating on one of his matches: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_f2z3sh1VY/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

The Volley Split Step and Ready Position

I hope that you have all practised hitting balls with the correct volley grip and experimented with grip pressure and the effect it has on the type of volley you play. This week I wanted to talk through a few tips of the volley split step and ready position.

One of the most important things when transitioning from the back of the court to the net is making sure you change to the correct grip by the time you do your split step. (To find the continental grip, form a ‘V’ with your thumb and forefinger and place the ‘V’ on the throat of the racket and slide it down until you reach the grip handle).

So many players get this wrong and by the time the ball comes towards them, they are still moving and still have their forehand grip. It is important that you can feel when your hand is holding the racket in the continental grip without checking by looking down. The split step needs to happen just before the opponent makes contact with the ball. The step should happen with your balance forward on the balls of your feet, not the heels. The split step will help you move to the ball quickly in either direction. The timing is critically important. If you split too soon or too late, you have lost the benefit of the split step.

The ready position is the stance you should have whenever you are at the net and not in the act of hitting the volley. For proper balance, lean forward onto the balls of your feet. Hold an athletic stance, which will make it easier to move to the ball. Make sure you are not leaning back as this will create a tendency to lift or fall back as you are hitting the volley. You want to be leaning into the volley as you hit and it starts with good balance, leaning forward in the ready position.

It’s similar to the one used at the back of the court, however you need to make sure the racket head is higher than your hands in order to set a good wrist position for the volley. The ready position should always be exaggerated with the racquet directly in front of you and not leaning in either direction. Your knees should be slightly bent. The tendency for players is to lean their racquet toward the backhand volley and be too upright.  The shortest distance to either volley is if the player’s hands are directly in the middle of your body.


– Shadow a forehand groundstroke and then try to find a continental grip without looking or touching the racket with your other hand. After each go check to see if you are correct.

– Then shadow a volley after each groundstroke

– Start to movement forward after the forehand and add a slip step – make sure by the time you split you have the correct grip and ready position.

– Hit an approach shot against the wall with a forehand grip, move towards to the wall and split as the ball makes contact making sure you are in a good ready position with the correct grip. (at this point just let the ball travel past you)

– Now repeat the step above and volley the ball as it comes back off the wall.

Tip – start with a sponge/softer ball and then move to a harder/faster ball as you progress.

Keep practising anyway you can and remember we will all be back on court at some point in the future so stay positive and stay safe.

Dan Lott | Racquets Director