When students come for a lesson, they often are looking to improve a specific shot….how can I block a ball? How do I hit an overhead? Can you show me how to impart more pace or spin? Many times people are looking for a quick fix.
Quick Fix vs Mastery
While there are some suggestions I can offer to all players that if followed will immediately have a beneficial effect on their entire game…when it comes to improving one’s strokes it is seldom that easy. Many students think that I can suggest a grip change that will somehow become immediately comfortable and beneficial. But changing one’s grip takes a lot of time and work. It seldom feels comfortable, and one will naturally revert to what feels good.
The fact is, making significant changes to one’s game takes a commitment to mastery. A willingness to endure going backward before you get better. If you aren’t willing to take a step backward, before you make a step forward you will likely go from instructor to instructor without making significant, lasting improvement.
Focusing on the Real Problem
Students are also sometimes frustrated when I focus on an area that seems totally divorced from the stated goal for their lesson. However, I have learned that people get stuck if they take a shortcut…a quick fix will likely lead to hitting another wall related to how the first problem was solved. It will likely just expose a bad habit down the road. This is because the ability to change anything comes from our ability to control our body.
Focus on Our Feet
Everything related to body movement starts from the ground up. Often the real reason a player makes an error is related to their feet. Our feet provide stability. Our feet connect us to the ground and the ground is the only tool we have to push off of and move to the ball.
Think for a moment, how you would go about lifting a heavy box. You would bend low and sink into the ground, pushing from your feet. The same can be said when you connect with any ball. Our feet are stable and we push against the ground as we make contact.
Shuffling vs Moving
Many people are inconsistent because they have a tendency to move too much. Instead of moving purposely to a ball, they are in constant motion…shuffling from side to side. It is difficult to maintain control when you are constantly moving. Often in your hurry to anticipate where the ball might go, you are moving in the wrong direction…making it even more difficult to recover.
Instead, I want you to track the ball with your paddle and your body will naturally move in direction of the ball. If you are doing this consistently, you will find you take a lot fewer steps. Your weight will naturally move into your feet in the direction of the ball, enabling you to push off and accelerate.
Quick Fix vs Body Control
Most often I work with my students on how to move their bodies correctly. By learning what your feet are supposed to do and how to use them efficiently we naturally generate power and with that control. By focusing on the root cause, rather than a quick fix you will make realize lasting success.