OK, this is not a post about taking a false step to move forward (we can do that another time!).
A colleague sent me a clip of a coach with a nice, very polished video of some 'tennis specific' speed and agility drills. Knowing that I work with a group of young and talented tennis players, he thought I would be interested. I was, what I found really interesting was that all the drills were linear drills.
There were some 'lateral' drills in there but the lateral drills were not lateral - facing forward at the start of the drill, then turning 90 degrees and running forwards is not a lateral drill, its just a linear drill in a different direction! I was also interested to see the distances covered (at least 20m)- the coach must have their tennis players playing on a huge court! Finally - there were no drills where the coach got the athlete to go backwards!
This is one thing that really boils my P**S!
The title of the blog post says it all, we need to coach our athletes to go backwards - but most books/DVD's are packed full of drills that go forwards, or left/right - maybe I just live in an alternate universe where people do have to move backwards from time to time! It was a nice video but the content was lacking.
My advice for anyone wanting to develop tennis (or any sport really) specific speed and agility would be:
1. Work all multidimensional (that's one of Vern Gambetta's) - forward, BACKWARDS, left, right, up etc etc.
2. Keep the distances short - in tennis a point is played with between 3-7 changes of direction in a confined area - if your drills are in excess of 10m then you need to tighten things up.
3. Practice going BACKWARDS - everyone wants to get fast going forwards - everyone forgets that you need to be good going backwards as well!
Once again we have coaches taking 'track' drills that get people moving fast in a straight line (with the occasional left turn) trying to convince us that they will help with the performance of a multidimensional sport such as tennis! STOP IT!