Pro Stringer Issue 3 - 2017 rt 3 2017 | Page 18

18 Gabe Jaramillo Preparing for the Clay Court Season 1) What is the reason some top players can not be effective on clay court? Technique and movement go together, step by step. Players that move poorly on clay the stroke falls apart even before they start preparing for the shot. Roddick had a big serve and a big fore- hand, his backhand was poor, so he tried to cover that side by hitting forehands, easier to do it on hard than on clay. On clay it meant that he had poor court positioning. At the same time players that have weaknesses are easily exploited on clay. For example Roddick not only he had a poor backhand but also his recovery on the backhand side was not efficient. Most people talk about the importance of the first step to recover, but the they don´t understand that the absolute most important factor is the capacity to stop to be able to recover with power, this is even more crucial while playing on clay, players have to learn at an early age how to stop ef- ficiently, Roddick was not slow but he was extremely inefficient in terms of stoping, his movement during the recovery process especially on the backhand side was his down hill. Nadal can run around his backhand effectively, because he moves extremely well, his recovery step is exceptional, I attribute that full athletic recovery to how well Nadal uses the court on his advantage by stoping strong, sliding staying low, wide base, with strong upper body being able to maintain his balance, having the power to push hard to recover and get ready for the next shot. Players that are allergic to clay is mainly due to poor movement, not because they are not fast, but because they can´t stop efficiently to be able to recover. 2) How do you deal with players that don’t like playing on clay courts? And how do you work with them (technically, physically, psychologically) ? Today the ATP has 22 outdoor hard court tournaments and 21 outdoor clay court tournaments, most of the 16 indoor tournaments are played on hard court. In the Junior Circuit it is the same, very even between Hard and Clay, so it is important for the players at an early age to get used to play and be proficient on both surfaces. When I started working with Nishikori at 13 years old, he was coming from playing only in Japan where the surface is hard court and also some of the fastest courts on the planet. For the first two years, from the ages of 13 to 15, I made him practice 90% of the time on American Clay or what people call green clay. The reason was simple, for a player to succeed in todays game they must be proficient in all surfaces. Technically and Tacti- cally he used to hit very flat with little topspin, making many errors, by making him play on clay and using barriers making sure he had to hit the ball over the barrier, not a high ball but a heavy ball, giving him more margin of error and because of the heaviness of the ball pushing the opponent backwards. The movement on clay is very precise, the technique is vital, so Nishikori practiced every other