The Final Frontier

Dave Hagler

This article presents an explanation and a series of drills to improve your spacing!

Players want to get better. Coaches want to facilitate this. Strokes and footwork are examined and analyzed as we seek to optimize biomechanical technique.

But an important but often ignored component of efficient technique is spacing. This is the distance between the player and the ball. In this series of articles I’ll show you the drills I use with my players to develop great spacing.

If your spacing is off, are you generally too close or too far from the ball? 95% of the players and coaches I’ve queried would answer, “Too close." I concur.

I always assumed this was a visual problem, a tracking issue, and everyone I spoke with seemed to agree. But 2 questions kept coming into my head: If spacing errors are visual tracking based, then wouldn’t the number of shots where you are too close and too far be approximately equal?

Also, why is it easier to hit a tennis ball that is curving away from you, but easier to hit a baseball that is curving towards you? The answers are surprisingly related.

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Dave Hagler is a Tennis Professional based in Los Angeles, California. He works with players of all ages, but he has a special passion for junior development. He has coached numerous sectionally and nationally ranked junior players and several national champions. Dave is a USPTA Master Professional and National Tester, a PTR Master of Tennis – Performance, and was one of the first 100 coaches to complete the USTA's High Performance Coaching Program. He has been the USPTA California Division Pro of the Year and one of 5 National Recipients of the “Pro of the Year” award from Head and the PTR.

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