Develop Ball Control by Playing with Different Surfaces
(By Larry Hodges)
Today’s tip will be controversial. Some might not agree the following, but I’ve found it to be consistently true, and it makes sense if you think about it.
Have you ever noticed how some players seem to have great ball control? They can seemingly adjust to any shot and make nice, smooth returns. How do they do this? They do it because they are in the habit of adjusting to incoming balls. Some do this somewhat naturally. Others are in more of a rut, with their subconscious stubbornly doing what it’s used to doing, and so not adjusting to balls that are different. These players need a little extra, more extreme practice.
You can and should practice against shots that give you trouble with your regular racket. But using the same racket all the time minimizes the amount of adjustment you must make. If you really want to learn to adjust to anything, try something more drastic. Get a different racket – slower or faster blade or sponge, short pips, hardbat, sandpaper, even wood – and play with it for a while. As you adjust to this different playing equipment, you are literally training your subconscious to make adjusting a habit.
Then, when you go back to your normal racket, your subconscious will have this new adjusting habit. Instead of stubbornly doing what it is used to doing – and so not adjusting to incoming shots, leading to a lack of consistency and ball control – your subconscious now has the habit of adjusting, and so you’ll suddenly have consistency and ball control. You don’t need to do this very often; a few times is enough. Give it a try, and see if it works!