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Secrets of a True Master:
Introduction to My System

Welby Van Horn

At the advanced level, tennis has changed dramatically in the last 20-25 years. Semi-Western and Western forehands and two-handed backhands have become the norm. Players are also using much more body in their strokes.

On the forehand, tour players will sometimes rotate the shoulders up to 180 degrees on the forward swing. When they do this, the hitting shoulder will point to the net at the completion of the swing. The players are also "loading and exploding" as they first bend their knees and then push off the ground on the forward swing to generate additional force.

World class players deviate from the beginning fundamentals on almost every ball.

On practically every point world class players deviate from the fundamentals taught the beginner. A top player might jump off the ground to get a high ball into a better strike zone on a groundstroke. He might use an open stance to more quickly recover for the next shot (as opposed to the early-on fundamental of a "square" stance that I teach the beginner when learning the groundstrokes).

These deviations are an adaptation to the requirements of play. As the caliber of tennis improves, the game becomes faster. There is often not time to follow the fundamentals taught the beginner. The player must react and adapt to the speed and placement of his opponent's shots. But the tour players can make all of these deviations because they have first learned the fundamentals.

It's analogous to the accomplished jazz musician who, when improvising, plays "off" the melody, sometimes to a point that you cannot recognize it. Successfully acquiring such an improvisational technique is very difficult unless you are first grounded in the fundamentals of music.


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