How to get more “pop” on your volleys

Today I have a simple and quick tip for you. If done correctly, I think it might help you get a little extra speed on your volleys. When hitting your volleys try and squeeze your grip right as the ball hits the strings. This will give you some extra “pop” without having to make a bigger swing, and also allow you to redirect pace.
It will take some time and practice to get the timing and correct tension of the grip squeeze down. If you are squeezing a little before or after the contact of the ball, it will probably feel like you are losing feel and pace. Also keep in mind that the squeeze I’m talking about is not a death grip. Try to squeeze at a tension that is somewhere in between as hard as you can possibly squeeze, and no tension at all. You can use the 1 – 5 scale to help with this.

  • Carlos Bermudez Tennis


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Australian Doubles

My tip today is simple and short, but important to consider. Instead of playing the same way every single point, mix it up and play in Australian formation for a couple points. Most doubles players like to go cross-court with their return of serve. Why not stand there and wait for it? Force your opponents to hit a better shot.

What is Australian formation?

Australian formation is where the server and volleyer stand on the same side of the court, and then the server moves to the opposite side after serving. You could also do this the opposite way.



When to use Australian formation?

Think about using Australian at first when you have a nice lead. When you’re up 40-0, or 5-0 in a game or match, why not mix it up a little bit? Another good time to using it is during big points or during tie-breakers. This is a great way to throw off your opponent’s rhythm and make them start to panic. If they start to adapt, you can always go back to your standard formation, or mix up your formation another way.

Why use the Australian formation?

I think it’s always good to mix it up, so you keep your opponent on their toes and always thinking. Also because it will make you a better doubles player. If you are constantly playing one specific way, it is very easy for your opponent to adjust. In addition, if you are uncomfortable playing in Australian formation, it is probably because you are only playing within your comfort zone. Implementing Australian formation is a great way to start expanding your abilities and will probably win you a couple free points just for standing there. Think about the last time you played against a doubles team who took this formation. What were you thinking? What did you do?

  • Carlos Bermudez Tennis
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Carbohydrate Intake and Performance

Have you ever been playing a match and thought to yourself, “wow, I am getting tired faster than usual, maybe very sore from matches the day before, or just don’t feel right etc.?” I thought I would change it up a little bit this week and talk about how nutrition can have a positive impact, or even negative impact on your performance. I believe proper nutrition is something everyone can do, no matter what your skill level is. In particular, carbohydrates are key to boosting physiological and psychological performance. They can also be very important in maximizing training level, endurance and recovery.

In a statement from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on nutrition for athletes, it was stated: “A high carbohydrate diet in the days before competition will help enhance performance, particularly when exercise lasts longer than about 60 min and athletes should aim to achieve carbohydrate intakes that meet the fuel requirements of their training programs and also adequately replace their carbohydrate stores during recovery between training sessions and competition” (Jeukendrup, 2004). “Other research studies have shown that ingesting carbohydrates during prolonged exercise results in a reversal of fatigue” (Coggan et al, 1991; Coyle, 1995; Coyle et al, 1983). It is also important to understand that your brain uses carbohydrates to function efficiently. Carbohydrates are broken down into glycogen and glucose. At rest, your brain uses more glucose than any other organ.

How many carbs you need:

If you are training for 1 hour a day: 3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight.
If you are training for 2 hours a day: 3.6 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight.
If you are training for 3 hours a day: 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight.

If you are 150lbs and training for three hours, that means you should be consuming 750 grams of carbohydrates. Preferably this consumption should happen 2 to 3 hours prior to playing your match or practice. This will vary from person to person. It is also important to remember that this “750 grams” is separate from the carbohydrates in your regular diet.

During the match:

Ingesting healthy carbohydrates BEFORE the match is the most effective. However, during a match the classic banana usually does the trick. It is also important to drink plenty of water, and if a sports drink is desired my personal preference is Pedialyte.


One thing that I feel is important is that this is more of a lifestyle change then a diet. For this to most effective, it must be a daily routine. This will be less effective if done sporadically. Lastly, I encourage you to personalize this and any other performance enhancing nutritional needs, so that you are 100% aware of what does and does not work for you. Proper nutrition truly could be the difference between winning and losing a match.

Here is a good list of healthy carbs to consume. There are many others.

– Carlos Bermudez Tennis

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The Split Step… Again

Today I have a quick tip for you, but an important one. I believe that the split step is split step1highly underappreciated and neglected. I think the reason for this is because we

are just hopping (which takes too much time) instead of split stepping.

Go ahead and get on a scale where you would normally weigh yourself, and bend your knees as fast as you can. You’ll notice that the scale will go down before it goes up. In tennis we call this “unweighting.” When you land on your split step think about unweighting one half of your body, in order to transfer your weight into one leg or the other before you take your first step to the ball. You don’t want to land directly on both because then you will split2have initiate the unweighting process after you land instead of going straight into it on the landing phase. This will allow you to free up the other side of your body so you can start to build your momentum with every step. Think about starting your movement to the ball before the “scale” has a chance to bounce back and make the weight go back up. If done properly you will move more efficiently and be able to retrieve more shots.

  • Carlos Bermudez Tennis
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It’s All About the Split-Step on The Return of Serve

split stepTo this day nobody has explained the return of serve better than when Nick Bollettieri said “Well, if a guy hits a ball 120 -135 mph, it is going to be a very hard serve for anybody to return. I think that probably the most effective way to handle a big, flat 130 mph serve is to simply say, Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, and take your chances.” Not only do I personally find this hilarious, I also believe there is some truth to what Nick is saying. If you’re human, it is impossible to cover the entire tennis court, especially on the return of serve. If you think you should get to every single ball, you are only putting unneccesary mental stess on yourself. However, there are ways to cover the court well, and maximize your chances of getting to the ball while at the same time, accurately getting the ball to where you want it to go.

A short time back, Avilés, C., Benguigui, N., Beaudoin, E., & Godard, F. (2002). conducted research on the effects of the split step on the return. It was proven that not only does the split step get you to the ball faster than when you do not split, but also that experienced players adjust their feet before they land in order to explode to the ball effectively. The most interesting thing that I took away from this was the fact that players did not land on both feet simultaneously. Pictures where taken of the feet of the returner every 4 milliseconds. The picture below illustrates the players left foot touching the ground 32 milliseconds before his right foot in order to move towards his right. Between all five participants, players had a combined average of landing on the opposite foot (of the direction they were going) 68% of the time. Nick Saviano (2000) stated that “top level players unconsciously produce functional behavior to adapt to demanding strokes in different game situations. Saviano states that top level players are able to regulate the landing phase of the split-step, instead of landing with both feet simultaneously, they touch the ground first with the foot that is further away from the direction of the ball, so as to start the stroke with an explosive movement towards that side.”


1. How you lift off on the return will have an impact on how well you get to the ball.
2. How you land off your split step will impact how well you are able to get to a ball.
3. How fast you react after landing will affect your success in retrieving the ball.
4. This is “reactive and adaptive” as opposed to anticipation.
5. Perfecting your split step is crucial to having not only a good return of serve, but also retrieving all shots landing on your side of the court.

– Carlos Bermudez Tennis

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Stop Serving into the Net

sharapovaserveThere are way too many technical aspects in regards to the service motion to fit into one post, so today I hope to give you some valuable tips on how to stop or minimize the amount of service errors you make in the net. Remember, everybody is going to make errors in tennis, so the key is to constantly be making adjustments. Even when you are executing your shots properly and they are landing inside the court, you should still be making minor tweaks and adjustments. Unless you’re like me and have never missed a shot in your life. True story, I have never missed a ball to this day.

Common adjustments you’ll want to make:

#1. Keep your head up until after you contact the ball. Bringing the head down too early is probably the most common reason players hit the net on the serve. Even pro players need to remind themselves of this time to time.

#2. Don’t pull down your non-hitting arm too early. Your arms should work together on the serve. If you are yanking your arm down to early, this will pull your other shoulder up and push your head down.

#3. Contacting the ball too far out in front. A very common adjustment players will make is to slow down the speed of their serve. This is a big “no-no.” What you should be doing instead is adjusting your contact point. Don’t toss it so far out in the court. (If you would like me to explain why some pros are way in the court I can definitely elaborate.) Think about the angle of your racket on contact. You don’t want to toss too far behind you either, or you will start to make errors long.

#4. Rotate upward instead of sideways. Pulling the elbow down too early off the ball will create a risky trajectory and often take height off the ball. Try to get the shoulders up and over each other, like a windmill.

#5. Use your legs. You should be utilizing as much upward weight transfer as you possibly can on your serve. Evaluate which way your momentum is going and adjust it upward.

#6. Don’t try to “hit through the ball.” Given the fact that the ball only spends two milliseconds on the strings, we can confidently say that most of the serve is upward. Most of the forward part of the swing is simply going to your contact point. If you are “hitting through the ball,” it is only taking away from the control of your serve. The ball is gone before you know it. Focus on everything leading up to the contact point, and not after the contact point of the serve.

– Carlos Bermudez Tennis

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