Q. "After you have set up and are ready to hit the ball on either a forehand, backhand, serve or volley… do you start the swing with your arm, legs, hips or upper body?"
From Coach Poppie - Palm Bay, Fl.
Great question, Brian. Here it is, and it is the same progression for golf, baseball, as well as with tennis. It is feet, knees, hips, shoulders, arms and hand (and in soccer, add neck and then the head).
Whether you are hitting open or closed stance, with tennis, the player pivots the feet and the knees, and the hips and shoulder follow in the same direction. Your racket should be carried by the opposite hand at the throat, as to set the grip. The racket hand remains centered with the breast bone until the type of shot or stroke has been selected. Then the arm extends the racket hand as needed.
The transfer of weight starts from the back foot to the front foot. Then it’s feet, knees, hips, shoulders, arms and hand. Of course, for the serve, you set your stand and follow the same progression. Remember, on the backhand only, two-handed backhands uncoil. With a one-handed backhand, you should extend the opposite hand straight back to keep from rotating through the stroke.
In closing, you may have noticed the terms shot and stroke. A shot is hit to win the point outright, while a stroke is hit to maintain the point. In any case, it’s feet, knees, hips, shoulders, arms and hand. This should keep you balanced for a solid execution. Good Luck.
First? The upper body….
From Kenny S., Highland Park, IL:
It’s a tough question, but balance, and patience first. You need to be set up properly, which is different on each shot and for each person. Your eyes need to be on the ball, focus. You don't want to have to think about how you hit the shot; it should be in your muscle memory. Service toss most be accurate. Low to high swing on the groundstrokes. Catch the ball early, and have the return planned, at least as much as you can. Some strokes are just last minute improv. Practice and be able to visualize and hit your strokes without thought.
From Sean, Loudon, TN:
Question for a question: When is "set up for"? We teach shoulder rotation [fore- or backhand], body placement [forward, back, left or right]; opposing foot forward, if possible, shoulder rotation through the shot, with finish high for groundstrokes [slices included] and even with ball contact or higher for volleys – all in as fluid a transition as possible. For me, "set up for" would be the ready position in the midst of a split step as my opponent hits the ball.