| By Salomon Levy
Credit: Goodshoot

Many times, we are trying to make a correction in our strokes, but because we’re so focused. On the racquet movement, the body rotation or the footwork, we often forget an important factor that can be the key to an efficient stroke so we should ask: What’s happening to the non-dominant hand? In this article, I would like to analyze the function of the non-dominant hand in each one of the various tennis strokes.

►Ball toss: Totally extended to reduce the distance the ball has to travel to the contact point. Increasing the precision of the toss and the consistency of the serve. Initiate the body rotation at the racquet preparation and lead the throwing movement toward the ball helping to generate angular momentum.

►At the set up (trophy position): Keep the front shoulder higher than the rear shoulder. It is important for the shoulder over shoulder movement that helps for an effective throwing motion toward the ball. This is important for balance at the end of the shot..

►Unit turn (coil): Join the racquet in the first part of the unit turn, which helps in the upper body rotation. This acts as a guide for distance from the ball.

►During the movement to the ball (uncoil): This initiates the body rotation, keeping it balanced and it thus coordinates the kinetic chain in the link between the body rotation (angular momentum) and the racquet acceleration (linear momentum), stopping the rotation just before the contact to produce a more efficient shot. At the end of the follow through, it helps to balance the body for a faster recovery.

Backhand (two-handed)
Here, the non-dominant hand is a crucial factor because in this stroke, it becomes the dominant hand. That’s why the two-handed backhand is often referred to as a forehand with the non-dominant hand.

Backhand (one-handed)
►Unit turn (coil): Keep the head of the racquet in a steady position, thus assisting in the beginning of the acceleration process.

The non-dominant hand moves in the opposite direction of the shot just before the contact creating an action-reaction effect. This facilitates the coordination of the kinetic chain in the link between body rotation and racquet acceleration. The end of the follow through helps balance the body for a faster recovery.

Forehand volley
The non-dominant hand initiates the rotation during the racquet preparation and stops the forward rotation just before the contact for a steady and consistent shot.

Backhand volley
The non-dominant hand is very important in this shot, holding the racquet until just before the contact. The elbow of the non-dominant hand must be in front of the body to keep the racquet forward. At contact, it moves in the opposite direction of the shot, creating an action-reaction effect, thus increasing the power of the shot.

In the overhead shot, the non-dominant hand acts as a “radar” helping in the body positioning behind the ball.

Ready position
Carries the racquet, allowing the dominant hand to rest. The dominant hand is relaxed and ready for the next shot, thus conserving energy throughout the entire match. Tennis is a precision sport and precision is affected by fatigue so any energy saved during long matches can be a factor in hitting the ball on the line or just out.

There are many important factors in the execution of an efficient shot. However, the most important factors are balance and coordination of the kinetic chain. For both, the non-dominant hand is fundamental. So before making decisions in the correction of a stroke, take a look at the non-dominant hand action since often, a small adjustment in that area can make a big difference.

Salomon Levy

Salomon is the Co-Director of Tennis at Christopher Morley Tennis in Roslyn. He is a passionate tennis coach that with his unique and creative way of coaching has been making a great impact in the lives of many of his players around the world for more than 25 years. He is a Sports Science Teacher and a Master in Tennis and High Performance Coaching from Wingate College in Israel. He is author of the book Salomon’s Tennis Wisdom. You can reach him at Zenmaster18@hotmail.com or by visiting www.Salomontennis.com.