The professional circuit and tennis activity in general have been stopped for about a month to deal with problems related to Covid-19 that is caused by the Coronavirus. Especially in Italy, players and racquet enthusiasts are trying to resist the unbridled desire to hit that much-loved yellow ball.
But how can we fight this conditional freedom and still reap the benefits that we will find once we return to the court? One of the simplest and most immediate means that every tennis player has is undoubtedly the wall. This tool that still endures in some clubs but one which we have rediscovered as an ally of our game today – at home or in the garage – helps the non-rusting of those very basic feelings that characterize tennis.
In this article, we present the authoritative point of view of two expert technicians with regard to hitting against the wall. These experts have talked about the strengths (many) and shortcomings (few) of this form of training.
Marco Girardini, former coach of Dayana Yastremska and the current director of the Pineta di Verona Club, explains how the wall is useful at all levels, from amateurs to professionals; everyone can dedicate himself subjectively to the content to be improved, without forgetting that he is facing a severe teacher and not a teacher who "cleans" the ball to the student while facilitating the task.
“Even for beginners and young users of tennis schools the wall is an excellent friend from whom you can learn the sense of rhythm, which is closely related to learning to be familiar with the right trajectories and having to direct the ball in the right place by dosing the strength to play with; in this way you learn to train control and regularity.
Regularity that is learned by "playing" with the net and not with the opponent. “I'll explain this: On the tennis court too many times you make the mistake of placing visual attention in addition to the net while, especially on the wall, you are called to limit this error by concentrating visually on the net, which can then be brought back on the court keeping the right trajectories and the right heights above the tape”.
Marco continues: “I can focus selectively on both rebound shots and on-the-fly play, for the latter, moreover, the wall imposes obligatory self-corrections to “clean up” the technique since it is called to work better on reaction times but above all about the work the torso does and the impact one must try to be ahead of.
You can also work on the service and especially on letting go of the service, trying to dwell on the repositioning times to be ready and responsive to play what would be the third hit. “The only drawback,” Marco explains, “could be the difficulty in carrying out analytical work on rotations related more than anything else to the difficulty in maintaining a constant and continuous dribbling rhythm; for example, the top spin jumps and sprays (wide), amplifying the effect.
Marco Girardini is also echoed by Alessandro Bertoldero, coach of the young Melania Delai, in listing the advantages that can be extrapolated thanks to wall training. Alessandro explains: “The wall is exceptional for hitting many balls and consolidating technical aspects that would require the presence of a master or sparring partner on the pitch; so, when you need to work on quantity it is an excellent tool.
Many technical components can be stimulated, especially as regards the upper part of the body, also working by stimulating resistance. Furthermore, it should not be underestimated how the work of the feet, understood as intensity in the search for the ball, is amplified by the halving of the time with which the ball goes back.
An aspect on which we must pay attention from a technical point of view is linked to the times of the openings and the preparation of the racquet; it may be useful to shorten the openings to a minimum, keeping them "shorter" if there are tournaments on fast surfaces in preparation or, also in preparation for matches with opponents with great power and speed in the shots, but at the base it is always better to try to train a specific technical gesture that is as uniform as possible.
The intensity that the wall gives is unique, and for this reason both Alexander and Marco place particular emphasis on the importance of maintaining a very high attention focus; attention and concentration which is essential for training to be effective.
Also fundamental is the work on timing and synchronization of the split step and the racquet openings. From a purely physical point of view it is difficult to describe parameters that do not intersect with the technical part but those most involved, especially with increasing game levels, are primarily the aerobic component, exercised in a highly specific way since the involvement is that of muscles and kinetic chains of the game, and given the huge number of shots that can be made in a short time.
Another parameter that you train is the intensity of your feet, both in search of the ball and in having to reposition yourself to be ready for the next shot. Specific works may also concern the supports and stances with which you position yourself to impact the ball; the coach and the physical trainer can pay attention to the care of balance and stability, an indispensable requirement for the executive quality of each technical gesture.
Wall work therefore has innumerable advantages even if it is not to be considered as the panacea for all evils. It is very useful if you are unable to take the court for regular training and allows, especially in this moment of inactivity, to maintain technical confidence, timing on the ball and good specific conditioning.
It will therefore be enough to find a wall or a wall with minimum space for moving around in order not to lose the fire inside you. by MASSIMO TEDESCHI
fitness trainer of Malania Delai (Wta player)