We all understand that practice is necessary to improve in any area. Tennis is no different. If players want to get to a higher level and play better week by week, they have to spend many hours on the court to develop different aspects of the game. However, practice sessions and the pace of progress differ from one player to another.
The number of training sessions in the weekly schedule should be different at the beginner and advanced level. If too much practice is done at improper level, player’s body can get injured because of lack of preparation for this amount of work. The same happens with drills. If we try to copy the exercises that Serena Williams or Naomi Osaka perform on a daily basis, while we still struggle with consistency from the baseline, it can result in creating faulty technical habits. This can lead to many unforced errors and ruin your motivation to put your best effort in the next weeks of training.
A lot of players mistakenly think that just running to every ball and trying your best are two factors that decide the quality of the session. That is not true. Probably you know really hard-working players who are not improving faster than others and sometimes it even looks like they don’t improve at all. Doing your best can help you become a great player, but if you don’t do the rights things, you will become great at “wrong things”. Understanding what quality means and implementing specific steps to achieve quality every day are the only ways to practice effectively and take the most out of every minute spent on the court.
Why are you on the court today? What is the reason? If you know the answer to these questions, you are ready to start practicing. Sometimes you will be tired or you will have personal problems that will occupy your mind or body and it can be difficult to maintain proper focus and physical intensity. However, if you know the reason for coming to the tennis club today, it won’t affect your improvement.
Practicing without goals is just hitting the balls. You can’t practice like a robot if you want to be a conscious tennis competitor. Before session, or even better, before every drill, you should set goals that you want to achieve. With this simple mental task, you are not only working on specific aspects, but you also always have a reason to keep going even when the results are not as good as expected. Suddenly, simple cross-court hitting transforms into an interesting situation where you can improve open stance forehands or where you become a master of responding with heavy topspin balls against deep shots of the rival.
Tennis is a demanding sport because a variety of factors have an impact on overall performance. Having solid technique or focusing just on improving endurance is not enough to win against solid opponents and lift the trophy at the end of the week. You have to take care of four main categories of development during every training session. Before the next drill, it is important to think about possibilities to improve technically, tactically, physically and mentally. When the training is over and you know you are better in these four categories, it means you had a high-quality session.
Analyzing your actions doesn’t only help you to become a more conscious athlete, as it builds the knowledge that you can use in the future. If you struggle with one shot on a given day, trying to learn from this challenge can give you valuable solutions for your future responses. If your coach gave you an extra tip about your post-practice meal, implementing a new habit can make you recover faster and make you eager to learn even more about the influence of nutrition on the athletic performance. Remember: we are never too old to grow, so let’s learn every day.
Practice is necessary, but quality is always more important than quantity. Spending too much time on the court without proper attitude, goals and conscious actions is just a waste of your precious hours. Make sure that when you step on the court, you step into the world full of possibilities that you are aware of. It is your decision how many benefits you will take home from this magical world, so grasp them all.