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At the advanced levels, training starts to look more like a game of keep-away. To maximize potential and accelerate the learning curve, players should begin by understanding the components of winning groundstrokes. To the untrained eye, perfect primary strokes are the main reason for players reaching the advanced levels of tennis, just as being tall is a prerequisite for playing top-flight basketball. But if just being tall was all it took to play in the NBA, my cousin, Big Vinnie, wouldn’t be driving a limo at Kennedy Airport.

19). By getting players to hit what are essentially lefty forehands (or, as is the case for lefties, righty forehands), this accelerated learning drill teaches the players the most effective way to use their off hand on a two-handed topspin backhand. 19 Turning on the off-hand drill. Groundstrokes • 39 Primary and Secondary Groundstrokes The beginning and intermediate stages of stroke development often resemble a game of catch. Players are content to simply hit the ball back and forth. At the advanced levels, training starts to look more like a game of keep-away.

It takes another 150 to 200 milliseconds for an electrical signal to travel from a player’s hand back to the brain. The brain then sends a new motor program back to the muscle group to begin the wrist roll. This takes an additional 150 to 200 milliseconds, by which time the ball is now 8 to 10 feet off the racket face toward the opponent’s side of the court. In other words, it’s impossible to roll over the ball for topspin. The spin comes from the brushing motion of a low-to-high swing path. Watch the ball hit the strings.

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