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Secrets of a True Master:
Balance

Welby Van Horn

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Good balance means a rhythmic, effortless swing with minimum effort.

Balance is the key fundamental in almost every sport. In tennis, good balance results in a rhythmic and seemingly effortless swing. It allows you to achieve the maximum results with the minimum effort. Balance is one reason why a player like Roger Federer makes tennis look magical.

Unfortunately, many players achieve minimum results from maximum effort! If this is you, learning my balance techniques will help solve your problem. Maybe a little bit of that Federer magic will even rub off on you.

Balance should not be equated with footwork. Footwork involves moving to the ball to reach the approximate hitting position. "Balance" is something you achieve after you have reached the hitting position and while you are stroking the ball.

Balance means far more than not stumbling or falling when you hit your shots. Balance helps shape the stroke. It involves the feet, hips, head and non-racket arm. Balance is the picture frame in which the picture (the stroke) is placed.

Why is balance the first fundamental? Click Photo.

Too many advanced players became advanced before they mastered the fundamentals of balance. It may have seemed too old fashioned and time consuming when what they really wanted was to hit flying topspin forehands. This is a mistake.

To master the basics you have to start with the basics. This means learning how to achieve balance with simple swings and stances. Once this is achieved, it can stay with a player for life as they progress to more advanced techniques used in high level junior and pro tennis. The only question is whether the player has the discipline and the humility to learn the game correctly from the ground up.

Let's start with the balance on the groundstrokes. There are actually 9 components. This only shows how critical balance really is to every phase of the stroke.

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The legendary Welby Van Horn is one of the few top players in tennis history who also went on to become a great coach. In 1939, Van Horn became the youngest player ever to reach the finals of a Grand Slam at Forrest Hills, at the age of 19. Turning pro, he competed successfully against the likes of Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzalez, Don Budge, and Bobby Riggs. In 1951, he moved to Puerto Rico for his health and began an amazing career in which he developed over 100 nationally ranked American junior players, including Charlie Pasarell who became the top American player. Now 82, Welby lives in the Palm Springs area, where he is Tennis Pro Emeritus at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Over the years, Welby's students were easily recognized by the fluid classical style and all court play that were hallmark's of his teaching. He is shown here with Katarina and Marina Raiscevic, two successful Southern California junior players he developed who prove that his distinctive style is alive and well in the new millennium.


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