Skills Top Players Have in Common

by Roy Barth

You can develop your own teaching method by taking the key foundation points you learned from your instructors during your development years, assuming you played growing up. If not, you can take the key foundation points that you learned from the presentations of top PTR coaches at the PTR Annual Symposium.  You also look at the key foundation points of all the top players in the world from fifty years ago to today’s modern-day players.

If you strip the playing styles from these players, you can come up with your own ‘Teaching Method’. You then would not contradict what other coaches may have taught them. The ‘foundation points’ of the game don’t change. They are timeless!

It’s important to train the pros on your staff to teach the same foundation points. This will keep a student from being confused if they take from more than one pro at your facility. It also keeps your pro staff from contradicting what other pros may be teaching. There are numerous styles, but the foundation points stay the same.

I asked myself what do all these great players do the same? The photos show examples of key foundation points from top touring tennis professionals.


They all have immaculate footwork. Constantly hitting and moving. Never standing still.


Tossing Arm Up on the Serve – Roger Federer & Venus Williams

This is a key foundation point for all the top servers for both men and women professional players. It keeps their shoulders sideways longer which gives them more accuracy to their target and more power from their hitting shoulder.


Getting Low – Novak Djokovic & Justine Henin

They all bend their legs and back to hit the ball early on the groundstrokes and volleys. They also bend their knees on their serve and overhead to spring up into the ball.


Hitting the Ball Early – Roger Federer & Emma Raducanu

To be able to follow through towards the intended target on groundstrokes and volleys.


Watch the Point of Impact – Roger Federer & Naomi Osaka

They see the ball hit the strings before they look to see where the ball is going.


Hand Leverage – Roger Federer

On every stroke in tennis. The ‘butt of the racquet’, not the racquet head lead the stroke through the hitting zone) on all the strokes. This keeps the ball on the strings longer, giving players more control and power. No what grip is used, all top players have hand leverage.


Relaxed Grip – Novak Djokovic & Pete Sampras

Top players have relaxed hands up until ball contact is made because they have hand leverage. They squeeze the grip slightly when the ball contacts the strings. They do not hold on with a death grip at the point of impact.


Follow Through Hitting Zone (Extension) – Coco Gauff & Andre Agassi

Top pros extend their hand(s) toward their intended target on groundstrokes, serves and overhead, volleys (bottom edge of hand ends up towards the intended target, using a ‘Karate-type’ motion with the bottom edge of the hand) the grip is relaxed.


Roy Barth

Former President of PTR

Touring professional on ATP tour for eight years

Reached as high 8 in the US men’s singles and 45 in the world

Director of Tennis at Kiawah Island Golf Resort 42 years,

Currently Director of Tennis Emeritus, Kiawah Island Golf Resort