Using the Opposite Hand to Improve Your Tennis Game – Part 3

So, we have already discussed two very important uses for the opposite hand while playing tennis. First, how the opposite hand relaxes the grip hand, and second, how the opposite hand is the “computer chip” used to control the racket and change grips. Now let’s take a look at the third function: using the opposite hand for “loading the core” or the “unit turn.”

See the power coiled in Rafael Nadal's core muscles? That's what I'm talking about.

See the power coiled in Rafael Nadal’s core muscles? That’s what I’m talking about.

The best players in the world use their opposite hand to set up their groundstrokes. if you take a look at any of the top players in the game — Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, Murray — you will notice how they all use their opposite hand to pull the racket across their body and load up their forehands. This has a couple of very important effects. First, by using the opposite hand to pull the racket across the body, it helps keep the grip hand totally relaxed. Second, the opposite hand helps maintain control of the racket and keep the backswing simple. Third (and probably the most important), by using the opposite hand to pull the racket across the body on the forehand, it coils up the muscles of the core and stores that energy until you are ready to release it into the swing.

Setting up with the opposite hand is also very effective for the one-handed backhand player. Watch Federer, Wawrinka, and Dimitrov all load up the racket with their opposite hands, then fire away with the grip hand keeping total control of the racket. This makes the swing fluid, efficient, and powerful.

Here is a great practice drill for you. I call this drill “pass the baton,” and it’s quite simple. Here’s how it works: I am a right-hander, so I use my left hand to set up the drill. When I see the ball coming, I use my left hand only (my right hand is totally off the grip) to pull the racket across my body for a forehand, and hand it over to the right hand just when I am ready to swing. The timing will be a little bit different, but you will learn to control the racket with a simple backswing, load the core, and stay relaxed. When you’re ready to swing, pass it to the right hand and fire away. You can do the same drill on the one-handed backhand. Have fun with it. If you want to even have more fun — don’t laugh here — but I sing to myself, “Load it with the left, hit it with the right”.

There you have it — three great reasons to start using your opposite hand more in your tennis game. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.