If you’ve played nearly any sport over the course of your lifetime, you’ve probably heard your coach say “MOVE YOUR FEET!,” and the reason you’ve heard that advice is because it’s true. Keeping your feet moving is extremely important regardless of what sport you’re playing.
As it pertains specifically to tennis, however, it means a couple things: First of all, you always want to be moving your feet when you are waiting for your opponent to hit you the tennis ball. You don’t want to be standing there flat-footed on your heels. That’s a huge mistake because it makes you slow to move to the next ball. If you’re on your toes and moving your feet, you’re going to be much more explosive.
Second, taking a ton of steps when you are moving to the tennis ball and when you are trying to get set to hit a groundstroke allows you to be more precise. You can move up a little or back a little, and in terms of your mechanics, it allows you to execute them in the same way every time and make contact at a consistent point. This will make your tennis groundstrokes much more effective and much more consistent.
At 1:00 in the video above, we have some footage of me hitting groundstrokes on a practice court just rallying with a friend of mine. What you’ll notice is that my feet are always moving and I’m always taking small steps to adjust my body position as I prepare to hit. Sometimes you’ll see that I move my feet when I’m not even moving in any particular direction, such as when I’m waiting for my opponent to hit the ball back to me.
Again, this allows me to be quick to the tennis ball and it allows me to be precise with my body positioning. This is something you see all the time on the pro tennis tour. Those guys are always moving their feet, and that’s one of the reasons that they never get caught out of position and they’re rarely really reaching for the tennis ball. Most of the time, they’re set up pretty well.
It’s also the reason why people always say that Roger Federer seems to glide around the court and is never out of position.
So the next time you’re out at the court, try doubling the number of steps you’re taking as you set up to hit your groundstrokes and double the number of steps you take while waiting for your opponent to hit you the ball. More than likely, it’s going to improve your mechanics and your consistency.