Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Flawed Tennis Form? Or Flawed Tennis Thinking? Part 2

Part 1

There are two ways to swing a tennis racket at the ball. The natural way and the unnatural way.

In the natural way, you focus on the approaching ball, and your conscious mind thinks something like, "Whack that sucker." No more conscious thinking takes place. Your swing is spontaneous. Instinctive. Intuitive. It is being timed, coordinated, and controlled by the unconscious timing/coordinating/controlling centers of the brain. These are the same areas that take care of things like walking, talking, and handwriting - all spontaneous actions that we do without thinking about HOW.

The unnatural way to swing a tennis racket at the ball is by consciously issuing yourself verbal instructions, like, "Get the racket back, step into the shot (or load and explode), watch the ball, bend your elbow, watch the ball, swing low to high, watch the ball, follow-through...."

There is a serious problem with the unnatural way. It takes a huge amount of brainpower. Brainpower to recall and process the language of verbal instructions. Brainpower that won't be available for sensory perception. Result? You won't see the ball as well. Your judgment will suffer. Your kinesthetic perceptions will be dim, and your dynamic balance will be off. You'll have robotic form because you're issuing orders to your muscles the way a robot issues orders to its movable parts. Plus, you can't possibly think through all the instructions that fast. Plus, you are just interfering with the natural process of coordinating and timing your shot. Learning tennis this way will be painful, frustrating, and very slow.

Yet this is the way most tennis players learn! That isn't the way you learned how to walk, talk, or write is it?

Am I saying that you should forgo lessons and just be a hacker? No. I am just giving you another reason why you should not obsess about form.

Here are some lessons on the main site that will help you learn without doing so:
Learning How to Play Tennis
Dynamic Balance
Tips to Improve Your Tennis Technique

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