• Returning to Tennis

    Posted in tennis on July 7, 2013

    For most of us our tennis careers begin in the school playground armed with a sponge ball in one hand and a plastic racket in the other. As we get a little older we upgrade to the proper equipment and hone our skills during the summer holidays on a make-shift centre court on our neighbour’s driveway. A few years (and a few hundred lost tennis balls) later we’re old enough to head over to the local courts.

    Many people successfully keep tennis going during their teens, even perhaps into university and beyond. But for most of us tennis somehow gets lost in the work-life balance mix of adult life.

    Although Andy Murray is doing very well at vicariously living out our tennis dreams, it’s never too late to get back on the court and do it yourself!

    We spoke to tennis instructor Ross Askell to find out his top tips for getting back into tennis, whether it’s been a year or a decade!

    How to get (re) started?

    There are many ways to get back onto the court. Your route back in may depend on your playing ability, but there is something for everyone out there.

    Most clubs/courts have coaches, who offer individual or group coaching. That can be a great way of getting back into the game (and hopefully with fewer bad habits).

    If that doesn’t appeal and you just want to start playing without coaching, most clubs/courts offer drop in social tennis where you will play for 2 hours (4x30mins), usually doubles.

    An average playing standard is required for this and you definitely need to be able to serve (otherwise people tend to get a little annoyed – I’ve seen it happen).

    Get started by calling the reception of your chosen club and ask for advice. They are normally very helpful, but if they are not do not let that put you off!!

    What kit do I need?

    • Comfy trainers. Preferably tennis ones, but that doesn’t really matter
    • Sports kit
    • Tennis racquet. Again if you don’t have one you can usually borrow one!
    • Water! Really important! Just because its cold it doesn’t mean you can’t dehydrate!

    I feel really self conscious and get frustrated with my ability etc. What should I do?

    I see many clients that get stressed and frustrated with their game after returning from some time out. This is really counter productive as it usually makes the body go ridged and therefore reduces the fluidity of your strokes.

    It’s natural that in the first few weeks back you’re going to be a little bit ‘rusty,’  stick with it! But most importantly enjoy the journey of reconnecting with a game from your childhood. The more time you put in on court the quicker you will be back to your best!

    Are there any exercises I can do off the court to help build my strength/help me prepare etc?

    If you perhaps a little unfit and don’t want to launch straight back into the game, gentle jogging combined with interval sprinting will get you tennis fit so you don’t feel so sluggish on the court.

    Diet is also really important, and its important to equip your body with the right nutrients to re-supply the energy that you will expend while playing.

    In all my sessions I make sure everyone warms up and stretches before starting. There is nothing worse than pulling a muscle when it could have been avoided. Concentrate on the muscles that are most commonly used in playing and you won’t have any issues.

    Motivated to dust off your old racquet and get back on the court? You can book a lesson with Ross here.

  • Tennis tips from our great instructors!

    Posted in tennis on June 29, 2012

    It’s Wimbledon, it’s summer and the sun is out (well, 2 out of 3…) so time to dust off the racket and get back out on the court! To help you on your way we asked a few of our tennis coaches to give some of their top pieces of advice to become the next Nadal  Murray.

    tennis upmysport

    Nadal was a shadow of his former self yesterday (sorry!)

    First up it’s Justin Pimm who teaches out of Woodfield Grove Tennis club near Streatham with his advice on what you should be doing in that crucial period before starting the match.

    •  “Spend 5 to 10 minutes doing very basic racquet/ball skills before you play (simple bouncing activities for example)! Being able to control your racquet whilst hitting the ball is an element many recreational players often overlook!”
    • “Start small!! That is, before you start whacking balls from the baseline and begin a game of “sorry” tennis, start warming up within the service boxes. Keeping things gentle and controlled at the beginning will hugely improve your timing as you begin to get into your rhythm”
    • “While watching Wimbledon is great, it’s not a shortcut to getting better! Don’t think that by simply watching the pros, you’ll be able to jump onto the court straight away and emulate them! Pick up tips when you watch them yes, but remember they’ve spent many years perfecting their style. So, begin by learning the correct grips for the forehand/backhand before you start. You can’t play the sport correctly if you can’t hold the racquet correctly!”
    Ross Askell, who is based at a number of courts across East London looks at some key principles to stick to once the match is underway:

    • Always be on your toes between points. You will send a message to your opponent that you are fresh and ready for anything they throw at you and it will get the ball back in play more effectively.”
    • “Relax and enjoy hitting. As soon as people go into the game they tend to stiffen up, which impacts their movement considerably.”
    • “As soon as you get a short ball, ATTACK!! Do not retreat back to the baseline! Again, this shows you are being aggressive and want to take control of the point.”
    • “Once you master the basics it’s important you keep your technique the same, ensuring it will be recognised in your muscle memory (meaning you feel the movement). Keep hitting from low to high and try to finish with a follow through. Point your elbow to the direction you want the ball to go in so you’re in control and dictating the play!”
    Last but not least Robert Appleson, based in North London, shares his tips on what can be the most important area of the game: the serve.

    • When returning: “If you feel your opponent’s speed of serve is putting you under pressure, shorten your back swing to give yourself more time. This may seem obvious, but concentrate on getting the ball back in play and put the pressure back on the server”
    • When serving: “When you’re struggling with faults and double faults you can lose the server’s advantage so it’s important to make sure that you are comfortable with your service action. One quick way to do this is to ensure that the ball toss is close to perfect for you.  If it is going long then throw it slightly further forward; if short or going in to the net, slightly further back.”

    We hope you enjoyed the tips and they give you the edge when you head out on the court this weekend! Also a big thanks to our instructors – you can find them, and others, here.