Many club players, but also young players, focus too often only and exclusively on the technical part without fully considering the physical part of the game. The three large areas that make up tennis performance are the technical-tactical area, the physical-motor area and the mental area.
The areas that occupy most of the time of daily training are primarily linked to the technical-tactical and physical component. High-level players know that each piece of the puzzle must be trained in order to play a fundamental role during their competitive careers.
But how long do amateurs and youngsters spend in training? In this article we will analyse and contextualize the importance of having good footwork on the pitch. Usually, for footwork we mean all those components related to the ability that players have in moving and using their feet effectively to find the right stances.
The footwork therefore includes the intensity and rapidity of the movements, known with the term quickness, the ability to react and breech explosiveness, the agility component and the ability to find the right stability and the right balance to create a base of support able to allow the racquet arm to perform the technical work.
Before going into the merits of each of these parameters it is necessary to consider how these physical-motor characteristics do not remain ends in themselves but must be integrated with the perceptive qualities and with the open skills situations that the field requires.
The main perceptual activity is certainly dictated by the optimal use of the visual channel that “obliges” each player to relate to the ball and the opponent’s movements to program and organize tasks and motor gestures appropriate to the various situations.
So, when we talk about quickness, we mean the speed with which we can move to get well on the ball and to position ourselves in the best way to produce a quality shot. The reactivity and explosiveness of the feet and the ability they have to transform reactive-elastic energy to accelerate is essential to cover the field explosively creating speed.
The agility component also includes deceleration quality and direction changes. The last component, certainly not in terms of importance, is the ability linked to stability and balance. There are forms of static equilibrium, dynamic equilibrium and equilibrium in the flight phase and these are fundamental to create the conditions for the technical components to be used effectively and efficiently.
This component is inserted, solicited and trained since the first tennis lessons, both for beginners and for children who attend tennis schools. It is also important to know the specific movements with which you can cover the tennis court to optimize the work of the lower limbs.
The means to train these qualities can be general, special or specific. Off-field work (general) is composed of some of the following stimuli: working on the pre-athletic gaits, working with the rope, plyometric working, and wall drills.
Special work may include: shuttles, changes of direction, accelerations and decelerations, braking and restarts. In the field, the specificity of the proposals stimulate agility, breeding speed and movements combined with the ball and the technical-tactical components.
It will, therefore, be essential to focus attention on the footwork part and invest the right time to consolidate the qualities and skills that are in connection with the technical and tactical improvements to be made to your game.