How to play tennis in the wind

playinginwindcarlosbtennisWe’ve all had those days when we’re feeling good and pumped to go play a league match or even just practice, but when you open the door it hits you… a giant gust of wind! The first thought to cross my mind is usually something to the tune of “great, this should be fun” (in a very sarcastic tone.) I was playing in the wind the other day and trying to process what I need to do to enjoy my time out on the courts a little more, because let’s face it, no one likes playing in the wind!

Here is a guide for you to reference the next time you have to play in the wind, and hopefully increase your enjoyment level.

1.) Remember that you’re not the only one playing in the wind – I have been playing/coaching tennis for thousands of years in many different places and have only ever heard one person tell me they enjoy playing in the wind. Shortly thereafter, I was taken to the hospital due to the shock I was in! My point is, the odds are on your side that your opponent most likely hates playing in the wind as well. Even if you are having an especially hard time try to remind yourself that your opponent has to play in the same conditions.

2.) It’s gonna be ugly – Do not go into your match or practice expecting everything to go your way, or even play the way you want. You’re going to have some ugly points, hit balls in awkward places and awkward strike zones. Expect to play ugly going into the match. It’s extremely difficult for anyone to play their “normal” game in the wind.

3.) Fitness & Breathing – Playing in the wind will take a higher fitness level because of the quick changes in direction and sudden movements you will need to make to adjust your feet. It’s easy to forget to breathe when this chaos is happening. Always remember to breath when swinging and TAKE YOUR TIME in between points/games.

4.) Playing into the wind – Personally, I like playing into the wind (wind coming towards you) rather than with the wind (wind blowing away from you.) Use the wind to your advantage and crank up the heat on your shots. The wind will help keep the ball in the court. Adding pace will also help keep the ball from landing short and your opponent from taking the net advantage. Avoid too much topspin, as it can make the ball land short and float.
• Hit flatter
• Hit harder
• Shorten your backswing
• Aim deeper
• Keep your follow through

5.) Playing with the wind – (Wind blowing away from you) This is a little trickier. In this situation you will want to play with heavy topspin and aim shorter in the court.
• Hit with heavy topspin
• Aim shorter in the court (Make adjustments depending on force of wind.)
• Look for short balls and be ready to come in. (Your opponent is playing against the wind here)
• Come to the net more
• Don’t slice as much. Slices tend to sail long with the wind.

6.) Playing in Crosswinds – This is usually the hardest to play in, at least in my opinion. Spacing yourself properly will be crucial in this situation.
• Keep your feet moving at all times. LOTS of small steps!
• Anticipate early. Even if your way off in your anticipation, you’ll be way better off than “waiting” to see where the ball finally ends up.
• Play into the wind. Example: If the wind is blowing right, hit towards the left.
• Play very high percentage tennis. Do not aim anywhere near the lines.
• Attack the net whenever possible. Especially playing into the wind, as the resistance of the wind will slow down your opponent’s passing shots. You won’t be passed as much.

7.) Serving – Take your time and think about your timing. Don’t let the wind take control of your timing.
• Toss the ball lower, so the wind doesn’t affect it as much.
• Make first serves and keep your first serve percentage as high as possible.
• Don’t slow down your arm speed. In all wind scenarios keep that racket speed fast!
• Use the wind to your advantage as much as possible. Think tactically! Examples: Hit kick or topspin serves with the wind, so the ball bounces out at your opponent and also has the wind to carry it along even more. Hit harder and flatter into the wind. In cross winds the slice serve is very effective. If wind is blowing to the left slice the ball to the left and just watch the wind carry it away from your opponent and also into them for the body jammer.

Conclusion: Positivity and patience – Try to remain as positive as possible and remember that the more patient player usually comes out on top in the wind. It is normal to not play as well in the wind, and that goes for everybody. Try to use the wind to your advantage as much as possible!

I hope this helps, and as always please let me know if you have any questions or comments below! Thank you for reading!

– Carlos Bermudez Tennis

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How to deal with nasty low shots in “no-mans land”


Nobody wants to hit those annoying low balls on the stretch moving forward, but the reality is, you WILL have to hit these shots from time to time. As a matter of fact, this


shot is a big reason why a lot of players wait in no man’s land. Players get burned a couple times with these short low balls, so they move forward to avoid them. This is not recommended. You’ll probably see a lot of these low shots if
you’re playing someone who slices a lot. The answer to this shot is to keep it simple.

Here are a couple tips on how to respond to this shot:

1. Bend your knees and not your back. It is very common for players to not get low enough when hitting this shot, which causes errors and tends to make the ball float.

2. This shot is usually not defensive or offensive. If you go for too much, your chances of error go up and you will be required to recover to the net faster. Therefore, your mindset should be to respond with a neutral shot (medium pace, not sharp angles and away from the lines.)

3. You don’t always have to follow these balls into the net because they are low and short. Be aware of your momentum, and especially of your style of play/comfort zone. What part of the court are you more likely to best your opponent in? Keep in mind you still want to be moving through the ball while hitting to allow your weight to transfer efficiently.

4. Don’t cross the body. Do not allow your arm to cross the front of your body. Focus on pushing the shoulder outward.

5. Keep the swing short and sweet. You don’t want to take your racket behind your hips, and usually not more than two feet out in front of you.

– Carlos Bermudez

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Did you know?

68% of points in the 2018 French Open (men’s & women’s) ended in an error, and not by a winner. I think this statistic speaks for itself when it comes down to what you should be practicing and trying to do during matches. In my opinion, that’s to place more of an emphasis on shot selection and developing the point instead of trying to hit amazing shots and blow your opponent off the court. Always expect the ball back. A lot of errors that tennis players make are a result of “going to big.” Think about the high floating volley. We all try to absolutely kill it but miss these easy shots because were trying to do too much. At the recreational level this shot is missed quite a bit.

“The eight ways to force an error in tennis are: consistency, direction, depth, height, spin, power, court position and time (taking time away from the opponent to prepare for a shot.)” This is pretty common knowledge but I took that from Craig O’Shannessy’s recent article. With this, my recommendation to you is to evaluate your style of play, and your shot tolerance. Then find your rally ball speed. Your rally ball should be a pace that you can make 80% of your shots in the court. After you have figured these things out, you’ll want to develop direction, depth, height, spin, court position and timing that compliments your style of play. Take a look at the attached shot selection chart to guide you through this.

– Carlos Bermudez Tennis

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For more power/spin/ control: Stop snapping your wrist on the serve

Something you hear a lot in the tennis world is “snap your wrist more,” and I highly disagree with this statement as it is counterproductive to not only the proper service motion (and all strokes really,) but also to the way our bodies are built. Actively snapping the wrist on the serve will slow down the overall speeds of your serves and emphasizes almost the opposite of where maximal power comes from. That being said, power and spin originates from a proper loading phase on the serve.

There are a lot of variables when speaking of the “loading phase” of the serve, so today I’ll give you the first step. In order to achieve a proper loading phase, you must first work on the flexibility & range of your shoulders. Here is a good link to follow for 10 simple exercises that will take 10 – 20 minutes a day These exercises will also help with injury prevention. I guarantee if you do these exercises, you will see improvement on your serve without having to change your motion. If unsure on how to do these exercises you’ll want to work with a professional in order to prevent unnecessary injuries. More on “loading” to come in future posts.

  • Carlos Bermudez Tennis
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Understanding Accuracy

Accuracy is important in tennis, and in my opinion, it is more valuable than power. A true master of accuracy is able to send the ball to any zone or lane with any type of spin, height, direction, speed and distance while at the same time receiving the ball at any spin, height, direction, speed and distance. Basically, no matter what type of ball is being received, you are able to send it back with the shot of your choosing. Of course, it is important to consider your shot selection when receiving different shots in various positions and scenarios, but in theory accuracy is defined by the above.


A few fundamental things thatwill determine your accuracy

1. Your contact point – What angle is your racket at on contact? Are you late, early? Why?

2. Your response (shot selection) – What kind of shot are your receiving and what are you sending back? If you are receiving a very hard and deep down the line approach shot it will be much harder to get your racket in the correct position if you are hitting a full-sized groundstroke. Instead, try shortening your swing and blocking it back or lobbing it. Yes, you might be able to respond with a full swing and still be accurate, but you better be fast! Understand that even if you are fast, your percentage of making these shots will still go down. Your percentage of actually winning the point will be even lower.

3. Stance – If you are in a closed stance on the run in the outside lanes of the court you will most likely have a very difficult time returning the ball accurately. Instead, make sure your stance matches your intended response. In this scenario open stance would help you return the ball more effectively and accurately.

4. Spin – Spin will be your best friendwhen trying to hit the ball where you want and will enable you to hit a large variety of targets from anywhere on the court. It’s important to choose the right type of spin though. For example, you do not want to use slice above the shoulder or on high shots, and you do not want to try and put topspin on the ball when it is below the knees or on low shots. Generally speaking, for topspin you will want to swing as horizontally as possible. Closing the racket face will not give you more spin, it will however make the ball land shorter.

  • Carlos Bermudez Tennis
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How to stop overthinking during tennis matches

Today I would like to offer you a couple tips on how to stop overthinking your technique, overthinkingball placement, strategy execution etc. during matches. Keep in mind that these things will take practice to work effectively. Although these tips may sound very simple, they are very important to consider. Tennis players should continuously train their mindfulness and mental toughness, just as they train their technique, movement and strategy.

It is important to understand that even professional players will find themselves navigating through mental obstacles during matches. Athletes usually run into problems when they are explicitly monitoring the motor skills of what they are doing. Explicitly monitoring yourself is when you are thinking about every small detail of your stroke, your feet etc. This is how you should be thinking during practice, but most certainly not during competition. Tennis players should focus on perfecting their implicit monitoring skills, otherwise known as auto-pilot mode. That being said here are a couple things that can help you shift from explicit to implicit monitoring during matches…

Step 1 – Acknowledge your thoughts, and what/how you are feeling. Different thoughts will be going through your head throughout matches, and it is especially important to be aware of thoughts that focus on the past or future. If you are not aware of your thoughts, it is impossible to challenge the negative ones.

Step 2 – Be sure to have plenty of tools in your toolbox – You cannot simply tell yourself to stop thinking a certain way and expect it to happen. As a matter of fact, it will only make matters worse. Instead, have a couple replacement thoughts in your toolbox BEFORE your matches and practice them to see which ones work best. Try to have a different “tool” for every scenario. For example, “wow, this guy/girl is such a pusher and I can’t stand playing pushers!!” Any tool you choose to use for this situation should be something you are in complete control of like “I’m going to take as many steps as I can before every shot.” You do not want to tell yourself things like “I’m going to win this point” or “don’t miss this.” These are two perfect examples of negative thoughts. Lastly, the mental tools you use should be specific to you. What works for one person may not work for the next.

My favorite tools to fix negativity

1. Opposites – If you are telling yourself “my forehand sucks” try telling yourself “my forehand is good.” You can also think about all the times you’ve hit great forehands.

2. Dual Tasking – Give yourself a simple task. For instance, you can count down from 500 from the beginning of the point to the end. Don’t over complicate the task, it should be simple.

3. Alphabet – Say the alphabet forwards or backwards throughout each point.

4. Indirect cues – Give yourself indirect cues like “make a circle on the back-swing.” This is something that is very simple and takes very little attention and effort to execute. Cues like “make a circle” involve many aspects of the stroke bio-mechanics, but by changing/simplifying the way you tell yourself something can completely change the way you execute a motor skill.

5. Repetition & muscle memory – Long story short, muscle memory is when PERMANENT changes to your brain, nerves and muscles take place through the repetition of a skill several hundred times. It is important to choose the correct path of muscle memory and not revert and reinforce what you are used to doing. If you are constantly practicing the correct way, that is what you will automatically do during a match without thinking about it. In addition, when you are practicing, over 90% of your strokes need to be good strokes. If you are hitting 100 balls and only 20 of them were “good” while 80 of them were mediocre, you have just trained and reinforced yourself to hit mediocre shots. If you are going into a match after this practice session, you will be hitting mainly “mediocre” shots because that is what your muscles have been trained to do. In order to change to the “good” strokes you will have to explicitly monitor what you are doing. As previously stated, you definitely don’t want to be doing that during matches. This is why professional and personalized insight is so important because we cannot always tell or see what we are doing. We have muscle memory to thank for this. Of course, there is way more to consider when speaking of what kind of repetition and how we learn the most effectively, but that is for another time.

– Carlos Bermudez Tennis

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