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The Importance of Proper Footwork in Anticipating Tennis Returns

Roger Clarke, Hinsdale

A tennis professional active in the Chicago and Hinsdale, Illinois, communities, Roger Clarke works with clients in drilling the fundamentals of the sport he loves. Among the aspects of the game Roger Clarke emphasizes with Hinsdale clients is proper footwork, which brings together efficiency, balance, and preparation as core attributes.

The ready position involves standing with the legs planted shoulder-width apart and the weight distributed equally. With the knees and hips slightly bent, the racket is held in front of the body, with both hands. Often taken at the center of the court, this position does not favor movement in any direction, but is used in anticipation of the opponent’s return shot.
One advanced strategy is to time a split step, or short hop, to the exact moment when the opponent’s racquet makes contact with the ball. This adds explosiveness when racing toward the ball. Accurately predicting in which direction to make that move separates those who consistently make challenging returns and those who are often too late and seem to give up.

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