Today's Topic – How to Hit Deeper Groundstrokes
I am very excited about today’s episode because, number one we are going to talk about something that is going to help all of us, me included. This episode is all about how to hit deeper groundstrokes. Something that can help you no matter what level of tennis you play, no matter whether you are playing singles or doubles, no matter what your age and no matter your level of fitness.
Number two, I am talking about deeper groundstrokes in this episode with Mehrban Iranshad of the Tennis Files Podcast, a podcast that I have been listening to religiously since it first came out and that I highly recommend that you listen to you if you are looking for even more tips and great advice on how to become a better tennis player. In his podcast, Mehrban interviews experts about all areas of tennis. He talks to coaches, high level players, fitness experts, nutritionists and on and on and he does some episodes with just himself because he has some good advice to give as he played tennis in college and currently competes at the open level.
Anyway, I know you are going to get some great actionable advice in this episode so let’s get going with my interview with Mehrban Iranshad of the Tennis Files Podcast on how to hit deeper ground strokes.
Mehrban Iranshad of the Tennis Files Podcast
KIM: I am talking today to Mehrban Iranshad. He is the host of the Tennis Files Podcast. It’s a podcast I have listen to religiously since it came out. How long have you been podcasting now, Mehrban? Has it been a year?
MEHRBAN: It’s been close. I believe I started in the beginning of February if my memory doesn’t fail me, so it has been several months now.
KIM: Well I remember very well when it popped up because I do try to keep up with who is doing what in tennis podcasting and when I saw it and listened to even that very first episode I knew right away you were going to have something really good and you have continued to put out very high quality stuff that any tennis player no matter what their level can get something out of. Week after week, I myself listen to some of the episodes you have done with young players that are trying to go pro or they are playing out there in the circuit, people who I probably have very little in common with and yet I get something out of those episodes. So I really appreciate that you are doing that.
MEHRBAN: Thank you so much Kim. I really want to give you kudos on all the work that you have been doing. You have well over a 100 episodes right now and each one has really fantastic and useful tips in your Tennis Quick Tips podcast for players to improve. I also really appreciate your passion for the sport. Like you mentioned there is not too many of us podcasting about how to help people improve their games but we are two of them and you are doing awesome and amazing work.
KIM: Thank you. That is very nice of you to say that. Before we get going on doing just that , giving people information that we hope will help them play better tennis, I was hoping Mehrban if you could tell my listeners something about your background. I know where your tennis has come from, how you have gone along because I have listened to your podcast but maybe you can let people know how you came to get into the game of tennis and go as far as you did with it.
Mehrban’s Tennis Background
MEHRBAN: Definitely Kim. I have to thank my parents, specifically my dad. When I was around 7 my father took me to the local tennis courts in Maryland and I just played. I played tennis and I tried a couple of other sports but I fell in love with tennis. So I hit with him quite a bit and then my parents eventually invested in junior clinics for me and private lesions and then I eventually started playing tournaments. When I was ten, I just worked my way up from the small beginner tournaments to the bigger ones and eventually I got be ranked number 7 in Maryland when I was 16 and then around 200 in the country. That was my peak for the juniors. Then I ended up playing tennis at UMBC, The University of Maryland Baltimore County, then after those 4 years I went to law school. I took a break because law school was pretty intensive and what not. After those three years, I found my passion for the sport once again. Once again, one of my great friends, Victor, introduced me to the USTA leagues so I started playing those and that was a great way to really have fun on the court. Now I play men's open tournaments as well as the USTA leagues and then I just decided to start this website and podcast a few years ago and it has been a lot of fun.
KIM: It has been great. You have talked to some fabulous people in your podcast and I have spent quite a bit of time on your Tennis Files website. You have some really helpful information, some good stuff and I am really glad that we are having this opportunity to talk because I know my Tennis Quick Tips listeners would love your podcast and your website and so I hope this is a good way that if they don’t already know about it they are going to find out about it and be visiting that very soon.
The Importance of Hitting Deeper Groundstrokes
What we decided, you and I, that we would talk about today here on Tennis Quick Tips is an issue you had addressed on your website and I thought you did such a good job with it and it is something I hadn’t talked about on that and that is how to hit deeper ground strokes. I think this is something I know a lot of people, it can help their game whether they are playing singles or doubles. I play a lot of doubles and this is something that is hard for me to convey to people I play with it how important it is to hit deep. Believe it or not. You had such good advice on it that I wanted to be sure that you can convey that to my Tennis Quick Tips listeners because I know it would help them. Why don’t you start out telling them why you think hitting deeper ground strokes can be so important to playing a better game.
MEHRBAN: Sure Kim. Hitting deeper groundstrokes is really hugely important. There is really two main reasons I think why it is really critical to improve your ability to do this. The first reason is hitting deeper groundstrokes prevent opponents from attacking you. if you think to when you are facing a ball that lands near the baseline, that is an extremely hard ball to attack off of. Many times you will find yourself hitting a defensive shot or maybe leaning back or just having trouble with that deep shot. In that way your opponent with have an extremely hard time attacking you.
The second reason would be because when you hit deeper groundstrokes that helps you to get on the offensive because as I mentioned your opponent will have a hard time hitting the ball back as offensively so a lot of times you will get short balls. So if you can increase your consistency in hitting deeper groundstrokes, you are going to get a shorter or floating ball that you can attack and stay on the offensive. And if you can control the points like this, with deeper groundstrokes, then that is really huge. There is really a huge difference in levels that is marked by the consistency of deeper balls that I have seen. For example, when I play players who are maybe 4.5, I noticed that their balls land a lot shorter more often so I have a lot more attackable balls, whereas in the 5.0 and over players, they consistently hit deeper balls. So if you could just train this ability, then you are really going to improve your game and your win rate.
KIM: I can see even playing ladies doubles, which is a lot of what I play, even great players who are good at getting up to the net and they are aggressive and they do well there, if you can hit deep balls and just keep them back, these players are not really effective at moving in because people do not like taking the ball out of the air, they don’t like taking the ball on the rise and often they will even back up and so it is a really great way to keep those players back and prevent them from getting into the net. How you do it and how you keep doing it, that can be the problem. What tips would you give recreational players for hitting deeper ground strokes?
Tip No. 1 – Hit the Ball Higher
MEHRBAN: I have actually 5 tips for you. The first tip I would give your audience is to really focus on the height of your ball. If you can increase the height of your shots by using top spin and so you want to think kind of a loopier shot instead of a flat shot, then you are going to be able to hit deeper groundstrokes and you will also have a higher net clearance which means obviously you are going to hit less shots in the net. So kind of visualize the path of a rainbow or half circle and practice hitting higher shots with top spin. You will definitely hit your groundstrokes deeper.
Tip No. 2 – Relax Your Arm
The second tip for you all is to relax your arm because I really found in my own tennis experience that if I have a tight and tense arm, I lose the flexibility and the free flowing swing that I need to hit the ball deep and you are going to get tired quicker when you play with a tight arm. So you really just want to try and keep your arm fairly relaxed. That will help you to hit deeper ground strokes.
Tip No. 3 – Use Your Entire Body
The third tip would be to use your entire body. So this also deals with the arm in the respect that you don’t want to arm the ball. A lot of players, if you watch them, they're not really using their kinetic chain. So they are just arming the ball. But you really want to try and use your entire body. Use your hip and shoulders, your legs, your core and your arms all together. Really, just think about medicine balls, for example. When you throw the ball like a forehand, you have to use your entire body, not just your arms. Otherwise, you won’t be able to throw it as far.
Tip No. 4 – Stay Balanced
The fourth tip would be to stay balanced on your shots. It is critical that you prevent yourself from leaning back unless you really absolutely have to and even if you do that you should try and end up balanced at the end of your stroke. Leaning back, think about it, the momentum goes backwards so you are going to lose depth on your shots. So footwork is critical with this and with staying balanced. You have to get into position and feel stable for your shots with your legs flexed appropriately. Think in your mind “strong legs.” When I took a few lessons from a coach who would coach me he would say “strong legs” and so when you think like that I think that will help you stay more balanced.
Tip No. 5 – Catch the Racket on Your Follow-Through
The fifth tip, one that is pretty popular and one that when I interviewed Jeff Salzenstein back on Episode 28 of the Tennis Files podcast he mentioned as well, is to catch the racket on your follow-through. If you observe amateurs, a lot of them end up stopping their swing and so what you want to do is you want to catch a racket because this forces you to have a complete stroke. So following through on your stroke will help you to hit deeper groundstrokes because obviously it lengthens your swing and you will be able to hit with more velocity and speed and length.
So those are my five tips for you all to help you to hit deeper and more consistent ground strokes.
KIM: I was going to go on as those are nice tips but then I have to back you up a bit. Tip number 4, you worked with Li Na’s coach?
MEHRBAN: Yes I did.
KIM: I am just going to say I did a podcast on using the ready position and the player whose photo I pointed out was Li Na cause she had such a perfect ready position and if people don’t know who she is or don’t remember, she was a top female player out of China. What did she win?
MEHRBAN: I think Australian open I believe.
KIM: Within just the past few years and she recently retired but she was phenomenal and you got to work with her coach?
MEHRBAN: Yes I did. I was fortunate enough because he actually has the Hong Tennis training center in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that’s a little plug for him. He used to work with the Chinese national team and coached Li Na for a bit. He is a very good coach and I’ve taken a couple of lessons from him. So it has been pretty good.
KIM: Well that is phenomenal. I have driven the Bryan Brothers’ dad around at a tennis tournament before. I drive for one of the tennis tournament here in Houston and I have driven a bunch of tennis players but I haven’t gotten to be coached by anybody that great. So good for you. We can’t all work with Li Na's coach so what recommendations or what would you tell people that they can do to be better at hitting deeper groundstrokes?
Drill No. 1 – The Broomstick Drill
MEHRBAN: Sure Kim. I have 2 fairly easy drills that you can employ to really help you hit deeper groundstrokes and just hammer it in your mind. And so the first one I guess I simply call it the net clearance drill. What you should ultimately do, if you can, is you place a couple of brooms on the side of the net, you tie them to the outside of the net poles and then you want to tie a bright colored rope or string between the two of them. So what you are doing is that you making a line above the net. I would say about 2 to 2 1/2 feet above the net. You want to hit over that rope and you can make it into game where say if you hit it below the string you automatically lose a point. I think this is a fantastic drill because it forces you to increase your height of your shot and then obviously that leads into you hitting deeper groundstrokes. So I really like that one. If you don’t have the rope it is a little tougher but you can try to visualize a line above the net, 2 feet or so above the net.
Drill No. 2 – Hitting Deep Game
The second drill I like that I learned from college tennis when I played back then. So this would be someone feeding your balls from a hopper so what you have to do is you will have to hit every ball past the service line and if you hit the ball past the service line you get a point. If you hit it into the net you lose three points. If you hit it short you lose a point and if you hit it out you actually don’t lose any points and so you have to get to 10 points to finish the drill. I would start with 10 points. We did 20 points in college. Believe it or not we had a few players who ended up in the negatives.
Drill No. 3 – Just Hit Deep
So that’s a great drill and I just thought of one other one, very simple, very easy to do which is you have to hit every ball past the service line while you’re rallying. Maybe you can start with that one if you want or if you don’t have any broom sticks or a hopper. Just try to hit as many balls as you can pass the service line and you will train yourself to hit deeper shots.
KIM: I think even that last one I try to do that when I am warming up with someone before a match, with my opponent. I try to do that not just to get myself in that groove but also to see how my opponents react to those deep balls. I know a lot of people, they warm up and their brain is like half there and half not, even into the match. It is interesting to see when you send them deep groundstrokes, to see what people do. It is a good way to evaluate what you are coming up against. If you can’t get the other things going right off the bat, you can start trying that out in your drills or clinics or even in your warm-up for your next match.
MEHRBAN: For sure, Kim. If you can really just master hitting deep groundstrokes, preferably cross court because it is a higher percentage play, if you just do that, you are going to win a lot of points against players. Like you mentioned, in doubles, if you can return deep you should really be looking for the poach because a lot of times your opponent will be leaning back and they will hit a weaker shot that you can pick off. Hitting deeper groundstrokes is really useful and it really shows in the different levels. These players can do that more consistently with more depth and pace as you move up.
Resources to Check Out
KIM: I know you have some good posts on this on your website. Are there any particulate ones you would send people to see or learn more about how to hit deeper groundstrokes?
MEHRBAN: Sure Kim. I have two posts I think would help you with this. The first one is called “How to Hit Deeper Groundstrokes” and the second is called “Groundstrokes Killer: Leaning Back.” So to make this easier to find I set up a welcome page for all of you. If you go to http://tennisfiles.com/tennisquicktips, if you go to that page, then there is going to be those articles there and there is also some free downloadable resources for you all that you can check out as well.
KIM: I will be sure and link to that page in the show notes for this episode which will be at http://tennisfixation.com/quicktips150 and then people can easily find that because I have looked at those posts that you are talking about and they are really good. I have one of my regular partners on one of the teams that I play on hits massive top spin but she does exactly what you talk about in the post on why you shouldn’t lean back. That’s how she does it. I keep debating do I show this to her or is that going to ruin our partnership if I start trying to coach her. She does a great job of it but she could really, if she was moving her weight forward into the stroke, it would be incredible. I know that is a great post because I have already read it and tried to figure out how to anonymously let my partner know about that.
Well, that’s all I have for you today Mehrban. I really appreciate that you took the time to talk to us and you have such good actionable stuff, not just on how to hit deeper groundstrokes but on all aspects of tennis. I really have enjoyed your Tennis Files podcast, hope you will keep up with that because it is very helpful.
MEHRBAN: Thank you so much Kim and I just want to say thank you so much as well. Keep doing what you are doing. You are really benefitting the tennis community very much with your tips and all your content and I wish we had more people like you involved.
KIM: See how nice it is when you have two tennis people talking to each other. Besides your Tennis Files podcast and website, do you have anywhere else you would like people to get in touch with you if they want to reach out?
MEHRBAN: I think probably the best place would be my Facebook page which I am actually trying to find right now. www.facebook.com/tennisfiles. You know if you go to o http://tennisfiles.com or http://tennisfiles.com/tennisquicktips then you can browse around and you will be able to find my other social accounts as well. I am on Instagram and Twitter as well under the name Tennis Files.
KIM: Ok. That sounds good. Well thanks so much for talking to us today. I really appreciate it.
MEHRBAN: Thanks so much Kim. Take care.
KIM: That was my interview with Mehrban of the Tennis Files podcast… I know that is a little bit longer than what I usually do here on Tennis Quick Tips but you have to admit there was a lot of good stuff packed into that interview. I really want to thank him and as I said you have to check on his podcast because he does have even more great advice to give and I know you will get something out of it.
Discount Deal from Wristpect Sport!
Finally, I want to let you know about that special deal I have going with Wristpect Sport. As I said they make such cute sweat bands. If you are looking for something like that for yourself , looking for some way to jazz up your sweatband situation on the court or actually, since we are getting closer to the end of the year and if you are looking for cute gifts for your tennis partner or all your buddies on your tennis team or anyone you know who is obsessed with the game, then you have to check out the discount deal that they have put together just for Tennis Quick Tips listeners. You can find it on the Tennis Fixation website. You can check out their ad in the side bar and the deal is they are offering 15% off of purchases if you use the discount code FashionFix. I am really excited that they have sponsored this episode and I am very excited that they want to offer my Tennis Quick Tips listeners and my Tennis Fixation followers such a good deal. Check that out, go to the website, look in the sidebar and you will definitely see the ad because I don’t do a lot of ads. I only work with just a few companies that I really believe in. Wristpect Sport is one of them and you can take advantage of that discount code. Again FashionFix to get 15% off at Wristpect Sport.
Thanks so much for listening today. I really do appreciate it. I hope you got some really good advice that you are going to be taking out on court. I cannot myself wait to go tell my tennis pro that we need to get two brooms out and we need to practice with them so I can hit deeper groundstrokes. I know he is going to love that. Thanks again and as always Happy Tennis.
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE
Click to see the Tennis Files posts mentioned in this episode and to get the special downloads from Mehrban for Tennis Quick Tips listeners: Tennis Files Posts and Downloads.
SHARE, SUBSCRIBE AND REVIEW
If you want to make sure you never miss an episode, it's easy to subscribe! Just click on one of the buttons below:
You can also get the direct RSS feed for your own favorite RSS Podcast Player by clicking here: Tennis Quick Tips Podcast RSS Feed.
And if you’d like to become a friend of the show, please leave an honest review on iTunes by clicking here: Tennis Quick Tips Podcast iTunes Page. It will help the show become more easily discovered by like-minded, awesome people just like you. I appreciate it!
Looking for a specific episode? All of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast episodes are listed on the Tennis Quick Tips Podcast page. Just click here to find what you're looking for: Tennis Quick Tips Podcast.
Full disclosure – As indicated in this podcast episode, Wristpect Sport is a paid advertiser on the Tennis Fixation website.