SuperMovers Tennis Coordination Series
- Rhythm -
SuperMovers Tennis Coordination Series – Rhythm
Rhythm is best thought of as the ability to execute tasks using different tempos and speeds. This could be achieved via observation to capture information from an external source and use dynamic motion to reproduce, for example the change in rally tempo from the opponent, or copying a flashing light.
Think of the different speed and tempo of movement to the net under two separate situations – chasing down a tough drop shot versus transition movement towards the net after an effective shot. One is more of an emergency situation in which a rapid footwork rhythm would be required, whilst the latter would be a much more flowing footwork pattern, as you are dictating the rhythm of the rally.
One of my favourite ways to develop rhythm is to use different types of hops, jumps and leaps, as when they are execute efficiently, they will follow a natural tempo. I get players to do tennis exercises in all different directions- forward, backward, sideways, diagonally and rotationally, this prepares them for the dynamic and chaotic environment of the court. The video above shows some variations:
Exercise 1 – Hop to Bound
Exercise 2 – Lateral hop and jump combo
Exercise 3 – Diagonal Pop & Float
Exercise 4 – ‘Crack the ice’ Forward Hop & Hold
Another practical way to develop and challenge rhythm is with the use of a metronome. This tool allows you it emit a specific beats per minute (bpm) that can dictate the speed at which a player must execute a task.
Using with a skipping rope is a great practical example – it seems that 140 bpm is a the most comfortable pace at which most players like to skip. From there I will use the metronome to either increase or decrease the pace. Increasing the speed is usually an adjustment the players can adapt to easier than when we slow the pace down. The more experienced they become the more varied you can make the tempo.
Level 1 Challenge +/- 20 bpm
Level 2 Challenge +/- 40 bpm
Level 3 Challenge +/- 60 bpm
Level 4 Challenge +/- 80 bpm
As well as skipping, volleying against a wall to the metronome is also a great challenge for players to problem solve. In this task players would need to adapt both their positioning in relation to the wall, as well as the racket path, angle and speed. So, for a fast beat they would be closer to the wall and have to strike the ball with a stiff wrist, with very little racket movement. For a slower pace, they would position themselves further back and have to hit the ball further up the wall, using more trajectory. Although this is a drill designed to challenge rhythm, it can also be used teach the player about manipulating the ball and their racket work, in relation to how much time they have, which could open up discussions about tactical situations, and how they can create time for themselves (higher, slower ball) or take time away from the opponent (harder, more direct ball).
Honing Coordination is one of the 5 key strategies for improving on-court performance, along with Strength, Movement, Agility and Stability – this makes up our SMASH Curriculum. Every session within the SuperMovers programme includes these exercises, along with a theme of movement, either Forward-Backward, Side-to-Side or Multi-Directional, this ensures we are developing a well rounded tennis-athlete.
Check out next part of Tennis Coordination Series – Balance