Learning to play on both hard and clay court surfaces
As we move into summer tennis season, we see pros going from clay to grass and then to hard courts. At every level it takes a certain amount of time to adjust when changing surfaces. I feel in order to develop better as an all-around player, you should spend quality time on both clay and hard surfaces. European and South American players learn how to move properly on clay at a very young age and this is why both groups dominate the clay court season. In addition, the European players also spend time on indoor surfaces in the winter, which is why they are also able to adapt quickly to different surfaces.
Many young American players struggle with the concept of sliding and then hitting. Learning to move properly on clay and put points together on a slower surface can be a huge asset to a player, even if they prefer a faster surface. Unfortunately for American players, many of the U.S. college scholarships are going to foreign players. Although the NCAA is trying to help American players by changing the rules for entering universities, they have not accomplished much. In my opinion, tennis has been steadily growing around the world and here in the U.S.
With all the talented coaches we have in Florida as well as all around the U.S., we need to pull together and train the next generation of players to be better equipped to compete on a global scale, even if just competing within the U.S.
Tennis Tip: When learning to slide on clay, the key word is “BALANCE”. As you move wide into the court, you must not put too much weight on the back planting leg. If you place too much power on the plating or sliding let, it will be more difficult to let go of the foot and slide. Therefore, you must first learn how to have the correct weight distribution before you attempt to slide and hit. One way to do this is to keep your front foot pointed somewhat into the direction of your slide to get better traction and balance as you are hitting the ball as well as a faster recovery to your next shot.