“Good things happen to players who bend their knees”
Last year I ordered one of Nick Bollettieri’s instructional videos, “Bollistic Backhand,” and something he said on it stuck with me:
“Good things happen to tennis players who bend their knees.”
It’s so true. Things go much much better when I actually execute on this advice- but every once in a while I forget and start going back to old habit of “pulling up” on shots without realizing I’m doing it. I got a good reminder again last week from Tumeka Harris at MPRC. I had hit like 18 great groundies out of 20 in a drill, and she called me up to the net and said: “Do you realize the only misses were ones you pulled up on and didn’t keep your knees bent?” She mentioned how she had been really paying attention to this watching several Olympic tennis matches and urged me to spend some time really focusing on watching for this next time I tuned in.
Only a few days earlier, Andre Santos at Total Tennis had made a similar point when he saw me start muscling the ball as I got more tired. He emphasized how much power gets generated from my legs, not my arm, and the next rally I paid attention and really noticed.
Thanks to Tumeka and Andre, I’m now going to keep Bollettieri mantra in my head every single time before I step onto the court.
* Top Photo credit: I took at 2011 US Open in Federer v Monaco match at Arthur Ashe
Feel Free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com and be sure to follow me on social media!
The point is not bending the knees. It is stretching the body! When one goes from rotating a wide body in the beginning, (wide due to bent knees), to rotating a slim body closer to the racket hit (due to stretch), the upper body rotation accelerates. (Think of ice skaters that rotate at breathtaking speed. This is exactly what they do.) When this rotation eventually gets to the wrist ( the kinetic chain exists!), the speed is very high.
“Good things come to those who bend.” I love this quote. Mainly because it is so true and was emphasized throughout my entire tennis life by my father, Ronnie Harris, and my tennis father (ages 12 – 16), Nick Bollettieri
“The most effective tennis strokes begin with leg drive generating ground reaction forces that can be transferred up the segments of the kinetic chain to the racket. ” – High Performance Coaching Program Study Guide
Great blog and I look forward to being on this journey with you.