There is no doubt that the sheer volume of practice sessions is not a deciding factor in the pace of improvement. A lot of players spend the same amount of time on the court, yet their level of progress is different. Why is this the case? The answer is quality.
You have an impact on the quality of your training regimen.
Tennis is one of those sports where athletes have to develop many patterns through numerous repetitions. To build a fluid forehand stroke, automatically recover with cross-over steps or to perform mental between-the-points routine, players have to practice and make thousands of attempts to develop a high level of performance in given action. It simply means that to constantly improve, consistency with good effort is necessary.
If we observe two players practicing with each other with the same coach and using the same drill, rarely can we see that they improve exactly at the same pace. There are external and internal factors that influence this. Of course, conscious athletes shouldn’t focus on things that they can’t control because this attitude will limit their development and not allow them to take their career into their own hands. That is why it is far more important to clarify which factors we can control and focus on specific actions that will increase the chance of achieving our goals.
Every training session is a great opportunity to improve. Players should always finish their practice as better athletes than they were at the beginning of the session. It is achievable while taking care of few specific areas. Here they are:
Tennis practice consists of many balls to hit. Every ball creates an opportunity to develop a good or a bad habit. The more high-quality shots you hit, the stronger habits you will create in the shortest possible time. Knowing that, you should always be clear about your intentions in any given shot, drill, and practice. How do you want to get better during a warm-up? What is your goal while hitting forehands in cross-court direction? How do you work better than your rivals while having to serve 70 balls from the basket?
Every ball hit during practice provides feedback both to the coach and to the player. By paying attention to every shot and rally, you can get valuable information that can be used in the next shot to produce a high-quality and effective stroke. Hitting a few balls into the net? Analyze and use a safer margin. Getting passed constantly by the partner’s forehand? Analyze and attack more balls to the backhand side. Not able to capitalize on shorter balls? Analyze and stay closer to the baseline. Developing a habit of constant analysis will make your practice sessions much more successful, but it will also be a big asset in your upcoming tournaments.
A lot of players try really hard and have motivation until things get tough. When they are tired or have to deal with uncomfortable challenges, they start to give up. The reality is that it is not difficult to practice when it is easy, so the moment when it gets tough is the real test that divides players into two groups: the ones who fight and get out of their comfort zone and the ones who give up and look for any opportunity to get more comfortable. Train hard every time and when others start to decelerate, that is your biggest opportunity to build advantage.
Quality will always win over quantity. You practice many times every week, but are you always getting the most our of your training sessions? Are you sure you work more effectively than any other player in the world? You can’t control the environment you have, but you can definitely control your attitude and your effort level. Get out of your comfort zone and you will move forward much faster than your rivals.