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Intro to Tennis
Begin your tennis journey with Matt's beginner tennis masterclass. Learn solid fundamentals from a former D1 & ATP tennis pro, beginners welcomed!
Taught by Matt Baccarani
What you'll learn
How to be comfortable with a racquet and tennis ball
How to hit a forehand with topspin
How to hit a backhand
Basic serve motion
What you'll need
- A racquet
- Tennis ball(s), ideally 10-20
- Access to a court
- A flat wall
- For some drills: a partner or coach
- Velcro paddles and balls (optional)
Intro to Tennis takes you from a complete newbie of the sport to a solid recreational player! Matt guides you from the fundamentals, such as basic ball control, to the first steps in groundstrokes, volleys, and serves. This program is designed to get you comfortable with your racquet and tennis ball so that you can truly begin leveling up in the sport. This program is also suitable for players who have never received formal coaching: Matt has perfected this course after working with beginner to intermediate tennis players over his 10+ years of tennis coaching.
5 sections · 34 classes · 1h 13m
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2 classes · 3min
Intro to Tennis: Welcome!
Welcome to oneCoach's Intro to Tennis program! Your coach Matt Baccarani introduces the goal of this program: to help you build a solid foundation in the sport. By going through this program, you'll be set to become the best tennis player you can be.
Your Coach: Matt Baccarani
Meet Matt Baccarani, your coach for oneCoach's Intro to Tennis program! Matt played college D1 and professional tennis, ranking in the top 1500 ATP. He has coached the likes of Genie Bouchard, Bianca Andreescu, and Sharon Fichman. Having over 10+ years of coaching experience, Matt's program for beginners will make learning tennis as easy as pie.
10 classes · 11min
Why Ball Control?
It's tempting to just jump into rallying over the net, but the key to rapid improvement is to start with the fundamentals. Ball control drills help you become comfortable with your racquet and a tennis ball. It also gives you a few cool tricks to show off at the local court!
Ball Control: Pancake Flippers
Hold the racquet near the bottom of the handle with your palm face up, like you would with a frying pan. The goal is to bounce the ball on your racquet, alternating the side of your racquet each time. Bounce the ball on your racquet once with your palm face up. Now rotate your hand so that your palm is face down, and bounce the ball on the other side of the racquet. Make sure to keep your racquet as flat as possible. It also helps to keep the racquet as close to the level of your waist, and your wrist as rigid as possible.
Ball Control: Frame Juggling
This is a fun (but difficult) drill since you've probably seen the pros do it on TV many times. Hold the racquet near the bottom of the handle with a hammer grip... like you would with a hammer, such that your racquet's edge is face up. The goal is to bounce the ball on the edge of your racquet, close to the throat, as many times as possible. The trick is to keep the eye on the ball, and to bounce the ball high enough so you have time to adjust, but not too high so you still have control.
Ball Control: Doubles Alley Dribbling
Hold the racquet near the bottom of the handle with your palm face up, like you would with a frying pan. Position yourself in the doubles alley, parallel along the lines of the doubles alley. Your goal is to bounce the ball once on the left of the alley, once in the middle, and once on the right of the alley, while bouncing the ball off your racquet in between each bounce. You will need to move your feet to keep close to the ball. Do this as many times in a row as possible. You may try this with your palm face down as well.
Ball Control Grip
The grip to use when performing ball control drills is similar to the grip you would use in every part of tennis. You should always keep your hand near the bottom of the racquet handle. It may be tempting to move your hand closer to the neck of the racquet for more control, but this will work against you once we actually start playing tennis.
Ball Control: Side-to-Side Dribbling
Hold the racquet near the bottom of the handle with your palm face up, like you would with a frying pan. Find a line on the court or some imaginary line on a hard surface, and position yourself over the line such that the line extends in front and behind you, running underneath your legs. Bounce the ball off your racquet and let the ball drop once on one side of the line. Now bounce the ball off your racquet again such that the ball drops to the other side of the line. Do this as many times in a row as possible. You may try this with your palm face down as well.
Ball Control: Generating Spin
We will try to generate spin such that the ball bounces backwards from your swing path over a line on the court. Hold the racquet near the bottom of the handle with your palm face up, like you would with a frying pan. Keep the racquet roughly flat. Drop the ball in front of you, letting it bounce once, and swing your racquet from right to left (or left to right for lefties) such that the racquet grazes the ball from underneath. This should cause the ball to spin and bounce opposite the direction of your swing path. To cause the ball to spin enough such that it bounces far over a line on the court, you need to swing and graze your racquet with enough speed so that the ball spins fast.
Ball Control: Juggling
Hold the racquet near the bottom of the handle with your palm face up, like you would with a frying pan. Your goal is to bounce the ball on your racquet without letting it hit the ground for as many times in a row. Make sure to keep your racquet as flat as possible. It also helps to keep the racquet as close to the level of your waist, and your wrist as rigid as possible. Now hold the racquet with your palm face down and do the same.
Ball Control: Bounce and Juggle
Hold the racquet near the bottom of the handle with your palm face up, like you would with a frying pan. The goal of this drill is to bounce the ball once on the ground, and once on your racquet. Begin by bouncing the ball off your racquet: make sure to keep your racquet head flat or close to flat. Let the ball bounce off the ground once. As the ball comes up, bounce it off your racquet again. Repeat this for as many times in a row. Now hold the racquet with your palm face down and do the same.
Ball Control: Balancing Act
Hold the racquet near the bottom of the handle with your palm face up, like you would with a frying pan. Balance a tennis ball in the center of the racquet. Walk around at a slow pace and try to keep the tennis ball near the center of the racquet head. Make sure to keep your racquet as flat as possible and your eyes on the ball. Now hold the racquet with your palm face down and do the same. This will simulate what a backhand grip feels like.
Basics & Groundstrokes
12 classes · 33min
Racquet Grip: Is There a Correct One?
One grip you should definitely be familiar with is the hammer, handshake or "continental" grip: you hold the racquet just like a hammer, with the racquet edge facing up. You should almost always use this grip for when you serve, volley, and hit overheads. The grip you use to hold your racquet is quite flexible for your forehand and backhand, except that you should rarely (if ever) use the continental grip.
Demo Lesson: Common Mistakes When Drop Hitting
Matt will highlight some common mistakes people make when practicing their drop-hitting in this demo lesson with Richard. Some key mistakes: 1. Not hitting the ball in front of you (with extended arm) 2. Throwing (instead of dropping) the ball 3. Keeping a neutral or slightly closed angle 4. Not shifting your weight forwards as you hit the ball 5. Low-to-high motion!
Drop Hitting From Service Line
We will now do drop hitting but from the service line (the line running parallel to the net running across the center of your side of the court). As always, focus on a low-to-high swing motion, keeping your racquet parallel to the net on contact (neutral face), and generating topspin. If you are struggling with topspin, try using a slightly closed face to get the feel. Drop the ball and as the ball rises from the ground, bring your racquet back behind you. As the ball reaches its peak, swing the racquet slow-to-fast to contact the ball.
Open vs Closed Stance
Similar to how we refer to the racquet face as "open" or "closed", we use the same terms for your stance. In almost all cases, you want to hit the ball with a closed stance. However, when you need to reach a wide or fast ball, an open stance can give you the reach required.
Drop Hitting with Ball Control
We will combine drop hitting with some movement and ball control. Starting from the baseline, walk towards the service line while performing a ball control drill of your choice (e.g., Bounce and Juggle, Juggling). Once you reach the service line, drop the ball in front of you, and hit a forehand as you would when drop-hitting. Do the same now but with your backhand: for ball control drills you would want your palm facing down and with 2 hands (if using a 2-handed backhand) to accommodate your backhand grip.
Matt talks about a 1- vs 2-handed backhand. For beginners, we recommend you start out with a 2-handed backhand. The backhand motion is exactly the same as the forehand motion: there is no secret sauce. The backhand will feel more awkward initially, but time and practice will give you the confidence to use it more effectively.
Stationary Drop Hitting
Keeping in mind the 3 key points from the "Basic Swing Motion" lesson, we will practice our forehand by dropping the ball in front of us and hitting it (drop-hitting). If you have access to a net, stand on one side of the net and extend your arm and racquet on the other. If you don't have a net, it's fine to use a line (or imaginary one). Focus on keeping your arm fully extended the entire time and when you make contact with the ball. Drop the ball and let it bounce once. As the ball rises and reaches its peak, swing your racquet from low to high almost in a windshield wiper motion. Focus on keeping the racquet parallel to the net (never facing towards the ground or sky). Also focus on generating as much topspin (ball is spinning away from you) as possible.
Service Line Rally with Ball Control
Now it's time to begin your first rally with a partner! The hardest part when moving from drop hitting to a live ball is timing. For now, you won't be hitting the ball back, but rather using your ball control skills to "catch" the ball. You (or your partner) will both start at the service line (half court). One of you will begin by drop hitting the ball to the other over the net. The receiver will block the ball at a 45 degree open angle so that the ball bounces up from where they are positioned. The receiver can then juggle the ball a few times, then proceed to drop hit it back to their partner. This is very similar to the Drop Hitting with Ball Control drill. Try this with both your forehand and backhand once you get the hang of it!
Receiving and Catching the Ball
You can perform this drill by yourself with a wall or with a partner. 1-player: using an underhand throw, throw the ball against a hard wall at eye-level or higher, and aim to catch the ball at waist height. 2-player: With each player positioned on opposite sides of the net at the service line (or a similar distance if you don't have access to a court), toss the ball towards your partner. The catcher should catch the ball at waist height, moving their feet as necessary. To increase the difficult, toss the ball in random direction and distances. For both 1- and 2-player drills, you should time your catch such that you are move forwards into the ball, rather than from the side or back.
Baseline Rally with Ball Control
This drill is similar to the Service Line Rally with Ball Control drill, but now from the baseline (full court). You (or your partner) will both start at the baseline. One of you will begin by drop hitting the ball to the other over the net. The receiver will block the ball at a 45 degree open angle so that the ball bounces up from where they are positioned. The receiver can then juggle the ball a few times, then proceed to drop hit it back to their partner. This is very similar to the Drop Hitting with Ball Control drill. Try this with both your forehand and backhand once you get the hang of it!
Basic Swing Motion
The swing motion for your groundstrokes (forehand and backhand) are identical. There are 3 key points you should focus on: 1. Looseness of your grip and the racquet 2. The low-to-high, slow-to-fast swing motion 3. The follow-through up to your shoulders
Open vs Closed Racquet Face
Oftentimes you'll hear the term "open" and "closed" used to refer to the angle of the racquet head when contacting the ball. Open means that the angle of the racquet causes the strings to partially face towards the sky. Closed means that the angle of the racquet causes the strings partially face towards the ground. A neutral face is right in between. There are situations where each racquet face angle is required as Matt discusses.
5 classes · 13min
Toss and Volley
This drill will involve actually hitting volleys with a partner. Both players will position at the service line across from each other. Your partner will toss balls to your forehand and backhand side. Using two steps to approach the ball, catch the strings on your racquet with an open racquet face (45 degrees to the sky) such that the ball makes it back over the net. Reverse roles with your partner after a few sets.
Volley Footwork Coordination
We talked about the importance of footwork and not swinging for the volley. Timing the two is the next step: when you take your second step, you should be using your forward momentum as you make contact with the ball. This allows you to transfer your body weight to the volley so that you can still hit a fast ball back.
Fundamentals of Volleys
The key to a volley is to not swing. Really. Volleys are aggressive shots you hit without letting the ball bounce at all on your side and used when you're close to the net. This contrasts groundstrokes where you're further back from the net and let the ball bounce. The most important thing you should focus on when learning the volley is your footwork and technique.
Volley Footwork and Catch
In this drill, we'll focus on the footwork for hitting a volley by playing catch with a partner. Both players position themselves at the service line on opposite sides of the net, or an equivalent distance if you're not at a court. One player will throw the ball within some reasonable distance of the other player. The player will attempt to catch ball at waist height while taking TWO steps. Now the player who caught the ball will now throw. Repeat this for as many times in a row without dropping the ball. When moving to the left you should lead with your left feet first, and the same for the right side.
Volley Velcro Catch
This drill will require velcro paddles and balls. Begin by putting on the paddles such that your palm touches the paddle for a forehand catch. Both players position themselves at the service line on opposite sides of the net, or an equivalent distance if you're not at a court. One player will throw the ball within some reasonable distance of the other player. The player will attempt to catch ball at waist height while taking TWO steps. The emphasis here is to not swing to catch the ball, but rather let the ball land on your paddle. Now the player who caught the ball will now throw. Repeat this for as many times in a row without dropping the ball.
5 classes · 15min
Basic Serve Motion
We'll now walk through the first progression in the serve motion. Focusing on only part of the serve motion will get us familiar with the general feel and motion of the serve. Remember to rotate your body in a twisting motion when you make contact: this adds additional power to your serve later on.
Serve Practice: Progression #1
We will focus on our extension and angle of the strings in this drill. Using the partial progression we learned in Basic Serve Motion, we will try to get as many of our serves into the service box while keeping our form on point. Beginning on the deuce side (right side of the court) at the baseline, toss the ball while keeping your hitting arm 90 degrees up behind you. As the ball peak, we want to extend our hitting arm up towards the ball and make contact in the center of our racquet head as the ball peaks. Make sure that on contact, the angle of our strings face the direction of the service box.
Toss and Throw
In this drill we'll include the rotation of your arm with your toss. Have your hitting arm at a 90 degrees behind your body as you face to the SIDE of the court. Hold a tennis ball in both hands. Begin your toss with your non-hitting hand as you did in the Tossing On Target drill. Ensure your toss always lands on the imaginary racquet target in front of you. As the ball reaches its peak, you will throw the ball in your hitting hand upwards towards the sky and try to hit the ball you just tossed. Do this as many times as you can, trying to come close to hitting the tossed ball at its peak each time.
Most Underrated Part of a Serve: The Toss
The serve is one of the most difficult aspect of tennis. As a beginner, you'll focus on the basics first, then we'll move on to higher level concepts. It's important to not skip steps: having bad form with the fundamentals will cause you to plateau quickly. The toss is what starts every serve. 3 important things to keep in mind: 1. Straight arm, release at shoulder height 2. Aim for 1 o'clock (right-handed) or 11 o'clock (left-handed) 3. Aim slightly in front of you over the baseline, about the distance of your racquet laying diagonally The toss is what holds every beginner back from developing a good serve!
Tossing On Target
Lay your racquet down 45 degrees from the baseline in front of you. Position your body such that you're facing to the SIDE of the court (facing parallel to the baseline). You will practice your toss such that you can consistently have it land in the center of your racquet head. Make sure to toss nice and high such that you would make contact with the ball at its peak with your arm fully extended.
Former Tennis ATP Pro & WTA Pro Coach
Matt has had an extensive tennis career both as a pro player and coach. As a junior, he represented Canada and won a National Title in U18 doubles while placing in the top 5 for singles twice. While at Ball State University for NCAA D1 men's tennis, he achieved #60 in singles and #4 in doubles. He has achieved ATP rankings in both singles and doubles. Matt was the traveling coach for Genie Bouchard when she won her 1st Junior Wimbledon Doubles and 1st pro event, and coached WTA #115 (singles) and #85 (doubles) Sharon Fichman for 3 years. He also worked with Bianca Andreescu as a coach and hitting partner not long before she went pro. Matt continues his 10+ years of coaching recreational players as the Head Pro and Director of Tennis at a number of tennis clubs in the Toronto area, working with beginners to rising pros.