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No Strings Power Drill

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In trying to create more power on their forehand or backhand most tennis players make the big mistake of try too hard.

They try to swing hard which results in a lot of tension and tightness which absolutely kills any potential for racquet head speed, which in turn kills potential for power and spin.

In my experience getting players to feel what a clean, smooth, relaxed swing is really like is absolutely key.

That’s exactly what today’s drill is going to do for you – help you identify where your tension points are and feel what its like to really swing freely and relaxed.

Comments? Questions? Leave them down below! Thanks for watching 🙂

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48 Comments

  1. Phan August 1, 2017 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    thanks guy, i use to be considered about tension of string,its extremely helpful to me 😉

  2. Brian Bouffard August 28, 2016 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Great simple drill. Tension in any sport isn't good. Will be trying this very soon.

  3. Geoff Ball August 25, 2016 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    very helpful – no strings hitting is a great counter balance to the piece by piece walk thru of the forehand. really get the sense of hitting thru the ball and not trying to control the moment of contact.

    I've been trying to brush the ball up to get topspin but have mostly confused myself and certainly have created stress and tightness around the moment of contact with the bal.

  4. RAY LAUB August 25, 2016 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    LIKE. LIKE EVERYTHING YOUR DO.

  5. Bob August 25, 2016 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Appreciate the guidance. Look forward to working on it

  6. Evan Kroeker August 25, 2016 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Cool drill. However, what if contact-zone tension is attributable to anxiety over clean, rather than powerful, contact? I've been trying out your "how to watch the ball (& opponent)" advice, which also seems useful.

    Thanks for both.

  7. john m August 25, 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Like it a lot. A great teaching aid.

  8. Gerard August 25, 2016 at 11:38 am - Reply

    Very useful, it makes a lot of sense. I struggle already a long time with this (too tight grip). Thanks.

  9. Jim sievers August 25, 2016 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Liked

  10. Victor February 18, 2016 at 8:15 am - Reply

    Hi Ian!! Thank you very much for your passionate instructions!!!

    Since we are talking about generating power here, I'd like to go a little further and ask you about the srting tension. How do I chose the correct string tension for me??? I used to use a Yonex RDX and had it with 60 lbs (Nalbandian).. lots of control but not much power..with the years, I lowered the tension little by little and changed to a Prince graphite, 52 lbs (Coria)…

    Any advice??? Your guideness was always extremely helpful to me in many other aspects of the game, so I know I can trust you again on this…

    Thanks!!!

  11. Rob December 4, 2015 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    An additional tip in creating a long LOOSE swing is to hold the racquet with your thumb and just two fingers.

  12. Eric December 4, 2015 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Part of being a good instructor is to not look "too good" when swinging. I would not worry to much about Eugene's concerns……

  13. Noushin December 3, 2015 at 7:15 am - Reply

    Many thanks for sharing your invaluable experience and knowledge! It's really appreciated!

  14. Holmert December 1, 2015 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Excellent advise Ian, thank you. Which ball feeder machine do you have? I would like to get one but without breaking my bank account. Thanks!! Holmert

    • Ian Westermann December 1, 2015 at 10:32 am - Reply

      You bet, Holmert. The machine in this video is a Tennis Tutor. Been really happy with it.

  15. Richard Pell December 1, 2015 at 6:00 am - Reply

    I like this exercise. Don't have a racket without strings but I will try to practice along the same lines with fresh air shots.

  16. allan haines December 1, 2015 at 4:07 am - Reply

    Good drill now to test A

  17. hooroy November 30, 2015 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Excellent!

  18. Charlie November 30, 2015 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    Hi Ian, this is Charlie from London , England. Great video, and I'd like to add another dimension to it. This summer, I spent a week training with Tomasz from Feel Tennis in Slovenia. What he showed me, which I've been using back in London, is to take a no string racquet and then attach a fishing net to it. You then get fed balls , just like your video, the difference is , that you do your stroke and FEEL the ball catch in the net, what this does is give you a feedback of impact without the impact. After swinging and catching let's say 20 balls, you then pick up you racquet, and it's amazing how nice and easy and relaxed you FEEL hitting balls. As a side benefit, you don't need to be on a tennis court, I do allot of off court training by simply doing a drop and hit(catch), so anytime you fancy a practice hit, just pick a safe place, drop the ball and swing your strokes normally and the ball ends up in the net, voila!! I'd love to hear from you guys/ gals that try it, it's great fun, enjoy, Cheers, Charlie

    • Ian Westermann November 30, 2015 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      That's a super interesting concept, Charlie. I absolutely love Tomaz, I think his content is exceptional. Thanks for taking the time to describe that!

  19. Gary November 30, 2015 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Very clever drill! This does work to determine if you are "truly loose". I also find it useful on the serve, especially when developing the pronation motion and the folllow through motion….which I have struggled with a little! Thanks Ian!

  20. Wayne November 30, 2015 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Great video❗️ I will try this. Hey Ian, when do you want to make some wheelchair tennis videos? I would totally help with that project. Get this, you could even make regular tennis videos using wheelchair players. At least one or two, ya know? We're all the same❗️ Only difference is two bounces❗️ Serve all communities❗️ Politically correct and stuff‼️

  21. Darnell Hunt November 30, 2015 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    Thanks! I found this video quite useful and helpful in improve power/pace.

  22. Franco November 30, 2015 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    I just cut the strings out of my second frame… ahahhahaha! Can't wait to try it. You're the best.

  23. Hieu November 30, 2015 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    iI love it thank you very much

  24. DaveB November 30, 2015 at 11:34 am - Reply

    Looks a great idea, but only once you're happy with your basic ground stroke technique. Different benefits from shadowing. Here the stroke needs to be properly timed, with good footwork, positioning and watching the ball; and you know immediately if you get it wrong ,i.e. if you hit the frame! I imagine switching backwards and forwards between this and target practice would be great for accuracy and smoothness.

    • Ian Westermann November 30, 2015 at 11:44 am - Reply

      Yup, this is most definitely several more steps complicated than shadow swinging. Good thoughts!

  25. Don McD November 30, 2015 at 10:22 am - Reply

    Aha! Juggling.

    • Ian Westermann November 30, 2015 at 10:54 am - Reply

      Learning how to juggle is also EXCELLENT cross training for tennis as far as coordination and ball tracking is concerned.

  26. Don McD November 30, 2015 at 10:18 am - Reply

    I like this drill a lot. I also like John C's comment about the interrelation between pain, vision and looseness. It took me exactly one swing at handball to convince me that colliding with the ball was not a good idea. I do not think I have ever really got that in my heart in tennis. I would suppose that the senses we use most in tennis are in order of importance, the kinesthetic (touch), vision, and hearing. I listen excellently and I do a fair job kinesthetically but I need help with vision. I know when I watch the ball my game transforms and you realize this. But do you have drills for this? And doesn't vision deserve a spot in the right hand margin of this page?

  27. Poida November 30, 2015 at 9:35 am - Reply

    Truth is that this drill has been around for decades, good to see it getting wider exposure via the net. Try to work on taking the ball on the rise more, staying relaxed with a "go to the ball attitude" vs. backing away from it, ….. a strong opponent will sense that you're timid and take control of points by creating "time and space" pressure.

  28. Poida November 30, 2015 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Truth is that this drill has been around for decades, good to see it getting wider exposure via the net. Try to work on taking the ball on the rise more, staying relaxed with a "go to the ball attitude" vs. backing away from it, ….. a strong opponent with sense that you're timid and take control of points by creating "time and space" pressure.

    • Ian Westermann November 30, 2015 at 9:36 am - Reply

      Yup, my coach first had me do this at least 20 years ago. I'll never forget it!

  29. Fernando November 30, 2015 at 9:22 am - Reply

    Great video and tip. I was made to work on this (or similar I believe) through grabbing the racket with two fingers and seeing how the hitting feels (and sound).

    The fact that the practice was not perfect is OK. So what?

    Thanks very much

    • Ian Westermann November 30, 2015 at 9:35 am - Reply

      That's definitely a good one as well, Fernando. Sometimes doing something different just to achieve a different experience or awareness is exactly what's needed. "Perfect" doesn't exist!

  30. Joseph Patafie November 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    Excellent. I'll be trying the 'no string' drill when our tennis season starts (hopefully early April). In the meantime I'll have to be content with 'shadow' drills.
    Many thanks
    Joe

  31. Tanya Starratt November 17, 2014 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    Great tips Ian! I really enjoy your lessons.

  32. John C November 17, 2014 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    Ian – have an alternative, but similar, tip that I happened upon while recovering (over several months) to a wrist injury. In short – when I had my wrist injury – any shot hit forcefully – especially outside the sweet spot – created a lot of pain in my wrist. When your wrist isn't hurting – yes you notice that you're not hitting the ball cleanly in the sweetspot – but since your non-sweetspot stroke usually results in a shot that doesn't have a lot of pace – your natural reaction is to SWING HARDER instead of focusing on swinging loosely and focusing on hitting the ball in the sweet spot. However, you do the latter naturally when your wrist is hurting, because your mind tells you that the most important thing is to minimize the pain factor. It's amazing how quickly you start to find the sweetspot even though you are holding your grip very loosely and – similarly – your footwork and preparation also tend to get better – as it's easiest to make contact in the sweetspot if you're at the right spot and your timing and preparation are spot on.

    You are soon amazed at how easily and freely you are swinging and yet how much pace and spin you are getting by just hitting cleanly (sweetspot and timing etc) and how your wrist doesn't seem to be hurting when you are hitting the ball and you feel like your arm isn't tired at all because you are holding the racquet very loosely and swinging your racquet very freely – just letting coiling and then letting the racquet go — you know – just like you are supposed to do and like you trying to get us to do by your drill.

    Of course – once my wrist started to feel better – it was easy to get back to bad habits and start gripping and ripping and missing the sweetspot – especially at the beginning of workouts – and trying to rectify the bad results by swinging harder. I have to constantly remind myself in those instances to loosen my grip and my swing in an effort to find the sweetspot and the attendant pace and spin that comes from a cleanly hit ball.

  33. Dan November 17, 2014 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    I like it, Ian! This drill seems to be a great way to learn (or re-learn) that a good stroke is so much more about the motion than it is about the impact of the strings on the ball. Like in a dance, yoga or a martial art, the movement is repeatable and, as you point out, the ball just happens to be in the way of the racquet face.

  34. Art November 17, 2014 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    An interesting idea but hardly different to hitting an imaginary ball with a normal stringed racket – that is what most people do when they want to get their swing relaxed.
    It was interesting to see that you did not really had a very consistent racket swing pass when you used unstrung racket despite the ball machine obviously feeds a very consistent ball. Then the very first ball you hit once you changed your racket back to the stringed one was quite a mis-timed attempt and the more balls you hit with the stung racket the better your shots your were hitting…
    To be honest I think that the benefits of this exercise will be very different depending on where the player is in his or her development and it will be very useful for you to point out at what level of players an exercise is aimed at .
    I would not recommend this exercise to those who is not yet developed a well established technique or suffer with mis-timing balls often. By the way Ian I also noticed that you are not closing the racket face well enough. On your backswing on some forehands the racket face was almost perpendicular to the ground – some room for improvement here 🙂
    Once again thank you very much for ( as always! ) an interesting video providing plenty food for thought

    • Ian Westermann November 17, 2014 at 5:00 pm - Reply

      Don't say that its "hardly different" until you try it! Its a very, very different sensation than simply shadow swinging (which I'm also a huge proponent of). Thanks for your thoughts!

  35. Carlos November 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    great tip definitely will try it …makes a lot of sense

  36. Dr. Edward Blomgren November 17, 2014 at 11:34 am - Reply

    Omg…brilliant, and so simple! Even sitting here in my office watching the video, I could actually imagine how this is going to FEEL on court…and oddly enough, my shoulder quickly relaxed right now! I didn't realize how much tension I was holding as I'm writing, but the vicarious tennis imagery "fixed" it. All my rackets are due for stringing, and I'm going to keep one of them unstrung for the spring season. I'm going to experiment with using this as a regular part of a warmup for couple of minutes, each time, until that particular feeling of relaxation / looseness / range of motion is encoded into muscle memory.

  37. Eugene Ovalle November 17, 2014 at 11:24 am - Reply

    You are hitting with to much arm

    Sorry you are missing an important point

    Best Regards,