Anytime someone mentions shanking or framing the ball you probably hear the phrase "keep your head still" - and for a good reason.
Keeping your head, and eyes, still and fixated at contact helps keep your hitting structure from falling apart. When you rotate your head too early and pull off the shot to see where it's going, your whole body follows and breaks down the swing causing mishits, and frustration, to pile up.
But that's not the whole story.
Largely overlooked are the other must have checkpoints of the stroke that you might be missing to get that crispy clean contact we all want. So before you go throwing your racket over the fence in disgust, make sure you are doing these three simple things.
You can have the perfect stroke and laser vision, but if you're not positioned properly you'll be shanking into the crowd. Getting into the correct position for the stroke you're about to hit is equally important as keeping your head still.
This means quick feet, proper spacing, and anticipation so that you can unleash into the ball without having to adjust mid stroke.
2) Early prep
If you're late, you'll be mishitting no matter how glued your eyes are to the ball. Not preparing early causes you to have to overcorrect your swing path. It means you'll have to fit more in at the last minute.
Along with a still head, exaggerating the prep will help give you more time to line up your ball, and will give you better chances of hitting a clean one.
Before you execute your perfect stroke with deep pocketing in the sweet spot, you better have a plan. Having intent on groundies is huge, like so huge. In other words, know where you are hitting and what type of stroke it requires.
Is it a deep looper down the middle? Short flicker to pull them out wide? Whatever you choose, knowing ahead of time will put you, and your mind, in a better position to hit a clean stroke.
Shank you very much
As you get better and take bigger cuts at the ball, and receive heavier balls, the chance of shanking is higher. That's life. I had a huge problem with this, and I know how frustrating it can be. I used to be the king of shanks. But I realized you can't just blame one thing for not working - there are so many moving parts that have to be aligned to have a perfect machine. Once you understand this, the rough road will become much smoother.
Just remember, even the top pros of the game have multiple mishits every single match, so yeah, it's part of the game.
Keeping your head still and eyes fixated at contact is very important - but don't go blind to the truth. To get that perfect stroke and sweet spot contact that we all crave, you'll need to do a little more than you thought.
And just maybe, you'll get a little more out of it too.
What tricks are you using to get more of that sweet spot goodness? We'd love to hear it.