Saturday, 23 September 2017 08:37 am
Improve Your Game

My best advice to any junior tennis player these days on how to improve their game play on the court is to stick to the following cycle: PEP (Play - Evaluate - Practice).

It's basically the same as studying a long vocabulary list of words in a foreign language, like French class in high school. First, you study the words and you memorize each word one-by-one. Then you write down the words in English only and then you try to write down the same words in French but without looking in your book. Once you're done, you open the book and you correct your mistakes. You look at your mistakes and you memorize the words you got wrong. Then, you repeat the process all over again until you got all the words right.

The process of learning a skill in tennis and then correcting mistakes afterwards should always be ongoing. The greatest goal of any tennis player should be first of all to commit the least number of unforced errors during a game. This takes lots of hours of practice by hitting hundreds or even thousands of tennis balls on the court. One-hundred-percent (100%) perfection is never achieved, but it is possible to come as close as you can to that goal.

Any time you're on the court, always remember the two basic rules of tennis:

        ALWAYS hit the ball OVER the net.
        ALWAYS hit the ball IN the (opponents) court.

Hitting the ball in the net or out is like awarding the point to the opponent, like giving away points in a tennis match. Every effort must be made to minimize the number of unforced errors from the beginning to the end of the match.

The SERVICE is the absolute most important stroke in tennis. This is the start of every single point during a tennis match. So many players simply lose precious match points because they just don't know how to serve. I will emphasize that all players, especially those who want to play in tournaments, MUST dedicate a significant amount of practice time during EVERY session to serving. A good serve is half the point already and I just can't stress that enough.

I will require every tournament player to serve at least 100 balls during every training session.

Just as important is RECEIVING the serve, which is the second most important stroke in tennis. This is one of the most frequently practiced drills in tennis. You just need two players to serve and receive and once a serve is good, they may as well just play the point.

To improve your game, play a game against another player of the similar skill level, age, and strength. Have your coach monitor your game and note all the weak points, including all your points which you have lost. Ask questions regarding your mistakes and points lost during the game. Why did you lose those points? Were they unforced errors? What caused them? Where you in a bad position on the court? Were you too far or too close to the ball? Did you hit the ball out or in the net? Do you make more mistakes on your forehand or your backhand? Did you volley the ball out or in the net? How was your service? Did you commit too many double faults? Were you able to return your opponent's serve or smash? Were you caught off-guard by the opponent's topspin or slice? Did you leave the court wide open for your opponent to smash the ball? Was your opponent able to spot the ball? What were your most common mistakes? What was your greatest weakness?

You will quickly find out what areas you need to improve and from there you can discuss this with your trainer or coach. Do some practice drills and research online on how to tackle your weak points? Then, come back and play the same player in another game and see if you have improved. Repeat the process, evaluate your mistakes and work on your skills with your trainer or your coach. Have fun!

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