The typical club level tennis player does not use their non racquet hand well. They don’t change between grips fast enough or turn their shoulders enough to leverage maximum power from rotation. These are common weaknesses that can be solved by better use of the non racquet hand.
Using your non racquet or “off hand” is more important than ever in the modern game. Many club players don’t realize that this hand should be the one that changes the grip for them between strokes and instead fumble to find the right grip with their dominant hand. If you watch Roger Federer in isolation he uses his left hand to change between forehand and backhand grips with precision and speed allowing him to keep his right hand relaxed and generate great racquet head speed off both wings. Having two hands on the racquet as soon as possible between shots allows the player to change grips within milli seconds.
Keeping the off hand on the racquet on ground stoke take backs also helps to turn the shoulders and coil the upper body in preparation for unloading on the ball. On the forehand take back pros will use the non racquet hand to help coil their trunks ready for rotation.
Another under appreciated function of the non racquet hand is spacing on the forehand ground stroke. After the upper body coils on the forehand the off hand should separate from the racquet and aid in keeping the ball in the strike zone. Not only does this help visually by creating a consistent hitting zone in front of the body, it keeps the player from getting too close and cramping their contact point. A great drill to improve your spacing and make your strike zone more consistent is to have another player or pro feed you forehands, but instead of striking the ball use your off hand to catch the ball at your contact point. This forces you to move your feet to the ideal position and keep you spaced.
Small tweaks like improving the non racquet hand will dramatically improve your ability to get prepared faster and more efficiently in the heat of battle. Whether your an aspiring Roger Federer or a weekend warrior on the doubles court, be aware of the non racquet hand when you are playing, it does more than you think!
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