Tennis career can last 20, 30 or even more years, therefore, you should have long-term benefits in mind while performing day-to-day activities. Unfortunately, many players do the opposite, as they consciously (or unconsciously) incorporate actions based just on short-term benefits.
Work hard, give 100% every time you practice, play all important tournaments, use every opportunity to get experience — all these examples seem like the necessary requirements to improve your game and have a chance to get to the next level. However, you have to understand that even positive aspects can hurt you if they are used improperly.
Planning and long-term perspective have to be included in a daily process of improvement. Short-term thinking is tempting, but it closes the door for future achievements, so every player should learn how to balance both perspectives to increase the chance for a successful career.
Analysis should be performed after every match in the tournament and it should also be a routine that players perform after weeks or month of practice sessions to guarantee the biggest and fastest progress in their skills. Only by getting constant feedback about their performance are players able to address proper areas of their development and constantly work on the tools that are needed to compete effectively.
Long-term development allows you to feel less stress and gives you more time to achieve the necessary stages of your career. That is why you should take a broader look at your current approach and rethink some specific areas.
1) Choose the right volume of sessions
There are different approaches to training sessions around the world. Some coaches want their players to do two sessions a day and other coaches prefer to stay on the court almost the whole day. Looking at the long-term player development, it is important to take into account the changes to the player’s body and mind in order to create the most effective improvement plan that will guarantee proper progress and injury prevention.
Overall, the older the players are, the more they can practice. However, if 12-year-old players already practice four hours a day, what volume of sessions will they need at the age of 20?
Gradually increase the volume of the sessions, but remember that modern tennis has to be based on complex preparation. More than four hours of tennis practice is not helpful in any way.
2) Play more matches, not just more tournaments
A lot of players pay attention to the number of tournaments they play. They know that competition is necessary to develop tactical mindset and learn how to play under pressure against different opponents. However, from the long-term perspective, counting just the number of tournaments will not help. The number of matches played should be included to assess a player’s skill and experience.
To become effective competitors, players needs to play many matches. If they play many tournaments, losing mostly in the first round, their overall number of matches will be really low. It simply means that when players don’t win enough, it is time to consider playing lower-grade tournaments or to work more on specific skills to achieve better results.
3) Prepare your game style for the future
Tennis career lasts many years, so preparing for what is ahead is crucial to work on given areas at younger age. When 12-year-old players are good, they will have to compete with 14-year-olds. When players have good shape at the age of 15, they will start competing with 18-year-olds.
Even at the pro level, young players like Amanda Anisimova or Clara Tauson have to deal with much older rivals like Garbine Muguruza or Petra Kvitova. Looking ahead at future challenges, players have to imagine their own game style and dedicate much more training time to develop skills that will guarantee success in a few years.
Focusing only on here and now, players will be prepared just for the present players at the similar level but they won’t possess tools that will be necessary to beat much older players at a higher level. Take a long-term perspective, take a look at your future game and start working on these aspects here, so when you reach desired level, you will be ready to compete effectively there.
Unless you are approaching the end of your career, you should take long-term view every time you plan your training sessions and participation at tournaments. Your current activities can give you benefits at your level, but it can be that these skills will not help you at all when you face more mature opponents. Think about the next years and how you will change, especially from the physical perspective. This vision will show you the road that you should take on a daily basis to increase the chance of achieving great successes in the future.