5 Minutes with Nick Bollettieri: Power Up!
Generate power from racquet-head speed, rather than trying to beat the tar out of the ball.
I hear it every day: “I want more power.” I’ll give you more power, but remember, power isn’t everything. Pros like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Victoria Azarenka rely more on speed, stamina, tactics and, when necessary, power. And how could I leave out Andy Murray? He is a perfect example of winning with other skills and bursts of power at certain times. All of these players have controlled power—power that they can turn on as needed.
At the club level it’s even more important to be patient rather than going for quick winners because most club players lack speed, consistency, conditioning and an understanding of strategy. The drill you see here will help you to generate power from racquet-head speed. Everyday players feel as though they must do more with their bodies to increase power. But there’s no reason for physical stress. All you need is a chair and a partner to toss your balls.
1) Sit in the chair with your backside fairly close to the front of the chair. Have your legs spread apart and keep your shoulders parallel to the net.
2) Take your racquet back (the same position you’d use in a full swing pattern).
3) Accelerate your racquet head at the point of contact.
4) At the end of your follow-through, the palm of your hitting hand should face outward.
Now get off the chair and maintain the same hitting position. This will give you a solid foundation when you turn and hit your forehands. As you hit from this position, raise up from your legs, which gives you balance and power.
One last tip, and it’s crucial: Tension is the enemy of power. Do not hold your racquet as if it were a life raft. Relax your fingers. Be loose with your entire body. Let the racquet do its work and soon you’ll not only have more power, but more power that you can control—and use at the right time.
Originally published in the January/February 2011 issue of TENNIS.