Keeping Things in Shape
Tennis strokes are made up of numerous inter-connecting elements, each being essential to the overall success of the stroke. But there is a time and place for everything, and holding everything in (time and) place is also essential.
Tracy Austin uses the Three Lines to make this backhand and she delivers her stroke into a forward contact along the footline.
But to ensure that the direction – of racket head and, consequently, the ball – remains true to her intentions, she holds the footline in place until the racket has directed the ball towards its intended target (along a path made plain by the footline).
And she does this by holding back the (back) foot like an anchor.
If she lets her back foot spin through too soon, the stroke may go spinning off its axis and into outer space. Sort of…
In 5 & 6 the anchor foot isn’t exactly stuck to the court, but it nevertheless holds the footline in place long enough to have a positive influence on the direction of the stroke.
Note also how Tracy gets butt-low to the floor to deal with this short, lower ball, using a tidy bend of the knees:- there’s no unsightly stooping or spooning up of the racket head in this stroke.
Juan Carlos Ferrero is another great example… of setting up for the shorter ball. But also take note of how J.C.F. holds the line of the shot with his anchor foot, for just long enough to influence the stroke’s outcome.
I’ve made two speeds of animation to highlight how Juan Carlos holds the foot line with a back foot anchor… before freeing it to spin through when the anchor’s job is done.