Can we use the Body more in Stroke Play?

Rowden Fullen (2004)

We often lay much emphasis on the movement of the bat arm in stroke play and acquiring good technique and do not perhaps stress enough or understood the use of the body and legs. With the development of looping and especially counter-looping techniques the player is not only required to strike the ball hard and with power but also to have a high level of control at all times and in a fast moving and fast changing situation. This is not easy. It is made more difficult in that the centre of gravity must start lower with the loop stroke so this entails moving, turning and lowering the body at the same time, all before executing the shot.

It also entails playing the stroke with good coordination and recovering with balance to play the next shot. This is why now and in the future the role played by the body’s centre of gravity in striking the ball should assume a higher level of importance. To give full play to one’s centre of gravity within the action of playing the stroke, one has to coordinate the movements of the waist and hips with those of the knees and feet. To play with the centre of gravity means that when the player swings his or her racket forward to strike the ball, he or she should consciously use the shift of the centre of gravity to enhance the striking force in the stroke and to make the whole movement more controlled and steady.

In many cases players pay some attention to their waist and leg movements but neglect those of the hip joints. In fact the hips are of rather more importance in that they are much closer to the body part where the weight is evenly balanced, the centre of gravity. It is therefore perhaps a wise practice to ‘borrow’ an exercise from the martial arts and add a few movements before striking the ball – first pull in and tense the abdomen and turn the hips, then relax the abdomen as you turn the hips forward. With the strength properly applied not only can the player reduce the extent of his or her movements but also enhance the striking force to a much higher degree.