Coaching Tip: The Feel of Good Technique

By Larry Hodges, USATT Hall of Famer and Certified National Coach
Good technique should feel right. If it doesn’t, there’s probably something wrong with it, and you should probably have a coach take a look at it. Good technique feels right because it is, almost by definition, the simplest and most efficient way of doing that particular stroke to maximize speed, spin, and/or control.

What this means is that once you have gotten the basics of a new technique, you don’t have to go through a checklist to make sure you are doing it properly. (Let a coach do that.) A coach or top player can help identify when you have done a “good” stroke, the one whose feel you should remember and repeat. There might be one or two things you need to remember and focus on while developing the stroke, but mostly just remember the feel of a good stroke, and try to repeat it. Learn the specifics only so you can get the right feel back. Then just let the shot go.

Besides the stroke itself, you should remember the feel of the contact. This is how you maximize control, as well as spin and speed. A consistent contact, combined with a consistent stroke, leads to great control and consistency.

When something feels off, then all you have to do is remember the feel of the stroke and contact and it’ll come back to you. Try to remember a particular practice session or match where the feel was just right, and regularly use that memory to get the proper feel back.

While you don’t need a checklist for your technique, you should have a specific memory of a time when you were doing it just right, and remember the feel of it. Then all you have to do is replicate the feel of the shot, and you should be able to do it just right again. Do this every session, and watch your level improve.

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