Our full-time players train all year round on the clay at STA, but not everyone has access to clay courts where they are. One of the most frequent questions our coaches receive is whether it really is necessary to slide on clay. Coach James Buswell is here to help…
The answer is yes! It’s necessary and very beneficial for players to learn to slide on clay, and to feel comfortable doing so. You’ll find that all the best players in the world slide on the clay surface, but it’s not as easy as it looks! Sliding is a specific movement, skill and technique required for the clay surface.
Often, players who can’t slide or don’t slide well tend to slip in certain situations and lose their balance. As a result, they will struggle when moving out to the ball, playing the shot with balance and recovering efficiently. When running or chasing a ball down at speed, sliding allows the player to decelerate or brake when playing a shot and then recover.
Players need to learn to slide in various situations: before playing the shot, during the shot, and after playing the shot. Below, we’ve outlined a few examples of these three scenarios.
Before playing the shot
- Moving out wide to play a forehand (moving laterally).
- Slide stopping, playing a forehand, and then recovering.
During the shot
- Chasing down a drop shot: sliding to decelerate whilst picking up the drop shot under moderate movement pressure.
After playing the shot
- In an extreme defensive situation: running at top speed, stretching for the ball, changing direction and then recovering.
These clips show how beneficial it can be to slide on a clay court.
Some benefits of sliding on clay:
- Allows you to decelerate or stop.
- Allows you to decelerate or come to a ‘stop’ whilst maintaining balance.
- You can slide in all directions necessary in tennis (lateral, forwards, backwards and diagonal).
- Sliding to stop is the most efficient way of moving on clay because the amount of changes of direction required (on average 4 directional changes per point).
- You simply cannot move effectively on a clay court without mastering the specific art of sliding.
Any more questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request our next blog topic!
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