“- He’s too good! I’ll lose this match for sure…
– Don’t worry about him; let HIM worry about you!”
It’s one of the best advice I had ever received when played competitive tennis.
Besides the above quote, what else can you do when playing stronger and faster opponents?
– hang in there; the momentum could switch and swing in your favour;
– vary the spin, height and pace of your shots;
– shorten your backswing – you’ll be able to handle his pace and contact the ball early;
– take more time in between the points, within the 25 seconds decent limit… or is it 20 seconds? 😉
– believe you can do it and keep fighting – this one I can tell from experience that good things happen when we believe and fight all the way to the end.
“Whatever you do, don’t say anything to me about my serve. If I think about it, I’m in trouble.” – Andy Roddick said when he first met Patrick McEnroe, his Davis Cup coach.
In a tennis world where the emphasize is on the technical aspect there is one area that very few tennis players dare to adopt – and it pays off big time for their game. That is the… “letting things happen naturally”.
What I’m about to tell you is directed to your tennis improvement by getting you out of the normal and popular tennis culture.
As a tennis player and coach I have been experiencing many frustrations and successes in my own lessons with all kinds of players.
One of the things that’s certain is that all players are different and you cannot teach the same technical aspect to everyone. I have to pay very much attention to what works for each of my students individually.
For example, in teaching my two daughters: Cezara (8 years old) and Bianca (6 years old)…
Cezara, on the serve prefers the pinpoint stance (when during the toss the back foot joins up the front foot) whereas Bianca likes the more traditional platform stance (when both feet are not moving during the toss and stand fairly close to each other).
Cezara’s dominant elbow must elevate during the forehand ground-stroke preparation to avoid opening her racquet too much during contact; Bianca has a natural way of controlling the racquet face at contact without having to focus on the set-up. And so forth…
But my ultimate point for this letter is that players should be allowed to forget about all the technical overload and be focused on the outcome.
When serving, the outcome could be just getting the ball in (for beginning players), sending the ball with lots of slice or topspin, or placing it powerfully in the corner of the service box.
As Andy Roddick did when he was a junior – he got fed up with all the technique that was imposed on him when serving and then one day he just threw the ball up and hit it as hard as he naturally felt. And it worked great.
Just imagine if someone would have tried to change his serve technique!
Or if some coach would have told Nadal to not hit his forehands with that looping finish…! (he was so fortunate to have such an open-minded coach like his uncle Toni)
You can only imagine what damage you can do when you want to impose one kind of technique to every single player that you coach.
We should always be paying attention to what works for each player.
As a tennis player you should listen to your body how it reacts to every stroke you execute…
In my teachings I get the best results when I give my kids tasks that are goal oriented. Examples:
– hit 40 serves in
– send 25 forehands cross-court
– rally 50 balls over the net with partner
When goal oriented tasks are given, the mind and body work together to accomplish them successfully.
Next time you go to practice, forget about the technique. Instead focus on what you want to accomplish: is it more slice on your serve? is it more power on your backhand? more penetrating volleys?
Then here’s what you need to do:
– before you start hitting the balls visualize (or tell yourself) what you want: more power, more spin or to get it in
– let your body loose and the racquet do it’s work
– clear your mind of any technical thoughts and keep in there only the outcome you aim for (more power, spin, placement etc.)
When you practice without the technical details cluttering your mind you will see better things happening.
1. Prepare early. Turn shoulders and set the racquet behind the path of the incoming ball before it bounces on your side of the court.
2. Contact the ball about waist high. Don’t rush into hitting the ball right away, wait for it to drop below shoulder level especially if you have to hit a high bouncing ball.
3. Move to the ball using small steps to keep your body in good balance and be ready for late adjustments.
4. Recover quickly after you hit the ball. Avoid standing and watching where it goes; watch it as you get ready for the next one.
5. Aim your strokes at least two feet over the net. Get down under the level of the ball so you can swing up on it.
6. Hit most of your shots cross-court. You will have more court to hit to and lower net to aim over.
7. Spin the ball. The pressure created on top of the ball will make it come down into the court earlier.
8. Practice consistency. Rally with your partner trying to make 10, 20, 30 balls in a row during a rally.
9. Hit against the wall. Challenge yourself to hit, let’s say 20 balls in a row; then go for 30, then 40 and so on.
10. Ultimately, tennis consistency is a state of mind… every time you practice, don’t accept to miss. Every ball that comes your way is like the most important ball in the world. Hit it over no matter what!
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