Column: Technically correct or instinctive...it's your tennis game
Who says there's only one way to get things done in learning and playing the game of tennis, or any other thing in life?
Most coaches are used to teaching their own certain way.
More or less it's "My way or the highway." And, maybe they've been successful in putting out a factory of players that have come out just fine.
But looking at the bigger picture, everyone is different and just like fingerprints: No two players are exactly the same, in mind, body, soul and spirit.
The mainstream of tennis players normally develop a one-handed forehand and a one or two-handed backhand groundstroke, one-handed forehand and backhand volleys and serve over-handed with either their right or left arm.
You'll see closed, semi-open or open stances used for groundies from the base line and a variety of different methods of preparing the racquet and toss for the serve.
Grips range from the eastern, continental, semi-western, western and what I like to call Tasmanian where you use whatever it takes because you get caught.
Players learn to hit from a set stance, on the run, scrambling and off the front or back foot - with their balance and many times without it - set, lunging or swinging volleys.
Overheads that are smashed, caressed, sliced, angled or hit deep from all over the court, and then there are the specialty shots...the offensive and defensive lobs, drop shots and volleys, with a variety of spins to place on the ball, sending the ball skidding, taking off, moon-balled...fast, medium or slow, deep or off-pace.
Over the years there have been some major changes in the game.
Up until the early 1970s most players used a one-handed backhand when hitting their groundstrokes.
Then came along Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg with their unconventional two-handed backhands...and they were very successful.
Hitting heavy topspin was not prevalent before Rod Laver made it popular, and even more so with today's Rafa Nadal killer forward ball rotation at rpm's never achieved before.
Pancho Segrua, followed by Monica Seles and now a smattering of new players like Marion Bartoli use two hands on both sides for their groundstrokes.
The conventional service motion was thrown out the window by Andy Roddick with his straight back racquet motion and record setting speed on the serve.
And certainly the aspect of kids starting at younger ages with better training, new and improved equipment and space aged materials, creative ideas and continued innovation have and will bring a wider range of thoughts and actions that will be tried and then integrated into helping players further their abilities and athleticism...physically and mentally.
Tradition is nice in setting standards of play, but it shouldn't overrule a player's instinctive and natural way...unless it's so bizarre it has no chance of working, or may hurt the player physically.
What's important to create in good tennis players are simple and concise strokes that promote smoothness, good patterns, consistency under pressure, efficient and biomechanically sound strokes, while letting players create their own hitting and playing styles.
No two players hit the exact same way, nor should they.
So what's next?
Will it be the player who hits two forehands using both their right and then left hand for groundstrokes and volleys?
In today's game of power and need for additional reach that just may make a lot of sense.
Instead of an overhand serve how about a new underhand serve with spin that makes it very tough for the receiver to do anything with?
If you're a shorter player, this type of serve may benefit or offset a player who likes the faster waist high return to play.
Equipment wise, there's a new racquet on the market making some gains that has two handles that allows you to hold the racquet like hedge sheers.
With computers taking over the world, count on a new chip that will help you keep score and give you pointers during the match.
It's your game to develop, and you're bright and smart - who knows your strokes and personality better than you do?
Listen and watch the best, go through the trial and error process, practice and play, then see what works best for you. It's always a work in progress.
Chris Howard is a local UPSTA Tennis Professional with over 35 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-642-6775.