Many of us have heard the old saying move your feet! You might have even been telling yourself that. But does that actually help? The problem with this advice is there is no concrete visual for someone to use effectively. I'm hoping to give you a few pieces of advice that will help you move your feet more without having to focus on it.
Before moving any further on this subject, it's important to state how much moving your feet matters when playing tennis. Remember your opponent is trying to get you to miss and the easiest way to miss is by having you hit off-balanced. You will most likely do this when you are on the run. If you can get set in hitting you're strokes without having to be on the run your accuracy and consistency will increase substantially. The only way to do that is to effectively and efficiently moving to the ball. Below you will find some pieces of advice to do just that. Let's dig in!
Pretend you're a boxer
When a boxer stops moving their feet, they get knocked out. This is similar to tennis. Consider trying to move your feet while waiting for your opponent to hit the ball. Also before returning serve, bounce around to get your feet "loose" for action. Remember the feet are the first to go when you get nervous. Be the best boxer you can be on the court with your feet!
Bounce on the hit
I remember playing really well in a match where all I thought was to take a small step in the air and land when my opponent hit the ball (split step). I was able to react to the next ball a lot faster which then allowed me to set up and hit strong shots back. Think of the ground as your spring board to get to the ball. The more you push off the ground, the more it will push you back up and towards the incoming ball. Consider just focusing on that during your practice time and see how you move. It might surprise you how well you move but also how hard it is to do consistently!
Try to hit your favorite shot all the time.
When I have a player I'm coaching in a match who is struggling, I try to keep it simple for him or her. A good piece of advice I give is to try to hit more of their favorite ball. This works especially well if the singles player likes forehands. This allows the player to constantly look for ways to move to the backhand side to hit their forehand and makes them have to be quick to cover the forehand side once they do this. I also tell doubles players to get to the net as soon as they can (off a first serve and second serve return). This also gets them moving without having to focus on it.
Step into every ball
This is a big one. The younger generation especially loves to hit open stance forehands of their back foot. Doing this is about half right. You need to put ensure you are transferring your weight into the ball as you swing. To do this your back leg needs to swing around. Also, when you step, it’s important that your weight does not go directly to the front foot. Instead, you should be stepping forward on your toes and while you swing the weight then goes on the front foot. See this video on Stan Wawrinka doing this.
Also see pic below of Sharapova hitting her backhand. She stepped but her weight is still on her back foot, showing that she will transfer her weight as she swings.
Attack any short ball
Try to look for any short ball that comes your way. The more you look for it the easier it is to jump on the ball and get to the net. It’s not easy at first but it’s definitely a way to improve since you are training your brain to look for any ball to attack.
Get your back foot behind the ball
When you are moving laterally on the court, it’s important to get your back leg behind the ball while hitting your groundstrokes. If you are a righty, work on getting your right leg behind the ball for your forehand and your left leg behind the ball on your backhand. This allows you to swing your hips around the ball to hit it crosscourt, which is the best place to hit it when you are on the run.
Need more help? Check this video out on moving on your forehand side