Improve your tennis game… It’s easy to say but experience players know improving at tennis is not easy and doesn’t happen over night. What you need is the right information on various topics such as technique, strategy, training and psychology that you can then take and implement into your game. Knowing something intellectually is much different than developing skill. Skill is only created by putting in hours and hours of practice over an extended period of time.
Below I will go over 5 steps to improve your tennis game. Each section will provide action steps for you to take, followed by an example of how these steps are applied to my own game.
I actually did these steps and wrote them down back in March, 2015 while I still worked a 9 to 5 job in the financial industry. It is pretty cool to see how things unravel.
Step 1: Improve Your Tennis Game
Know Your Reality
The first step to improve your tennis game is to know where you are as a player today. Begin by analyzing your game for what it is, but not worse than it is. It is important to be honest with yourself so you know the reality of where you are today. Knowing your reality will allow you to have a starting point and celebrate when you make progress. However, make sure not to see your game worse than what it is, which can lead to making an excuse not to put in the work because its too hard.
Sharing my Reality
My tennis technique is fundamentally sound, however, my strategy, fitness and mental game are susceptible to breaking down. I don’t play enough matches to be match tough. When I play tennis players at my level or below I find myself preparing for each ball and hitting each shot relatively comfortably. However, at times I miss what many would see as a routine volley or put away ball. I believe this is due to a lack of match play.
When I play better tennis players than myself, players at the 5.5 level, tennis becomes very difficult. During point play, I find myself out of position when my opponent is on offensive due to not reading or reacting to the ball soon enough. I find better tennis players hit fewer short balls and balls that feel heavy, have more topspin, which makes playing my preferred style of play more difficult; attacking tennis. As a result, I tend to approach the net on balls that are deeper in the court or playing out longer points from the baseline.
Over the past several years I have not put in the tennis training required to improve my tennis game past the 5.0 level. There are reasons why but they are just excuses. My fitness is not that of a competitive tournament player and I get tired which leads to other aspects of my game breaking down.
Step 2: Improve Your Tennis Game
Have a Vision
The second step to improve your tennis game is to have a vision of how you see your tennis in the future and determine how your vision adds value to your life. Your vision should consist of the style of play you enjoy and aspects of your game that you believe in and wouldn’t change. For example, you may envision yourself serving big serves, coming into net on mid court balls, and putting away the point up at net. Or placing your serves and working your opponent around the court from the baseline until he makes an error or runs out of gas.
A vision forms a long term goal that commands focus and provides some value or meaning to your life. Your vision for your future game is better than where your game is today. Whatever your vision maybe it is important to have, in tennis and in life.
Sharing my Vision
As a Tennis Player and Coach
I envision myself as an all court attacking player that plays at the open tournament level. I will dictate play with my serve and attack each short ball I receive, followed by taking the net and finishing the point. I will mix in a serve and volley from time to time when the opponent chips back the return. On the return games, I will hit through my returns with confidence and neutralize my opponent’s serve. I will transition up to net whenever I get presented with a short ball to approach on.
Throughout my life I have identified myself as being as tennis player and a coach. Some of my interests have changed but my passion for tennis and leadership has been continuous. When I think of my life I feel there would be nothing more satisfying than sharing the sport and benefits of tennis with others. I see myself continuing to learn and grow as a tennis player and coach to the point where tennis becomes my only source of income to support myself and my family.
Step 3: Improve Your Tennis Game
Develop a Mission or Roadmap
The third step to improve your tennis game is to create a mission, or a roadmap, that consists of strategies to reach your vision. The strategies that you pick, unlike your vision, may change based on their effectiveness and the results that they yield. To simplify your mission, think of it as having a well organized game plan that provides a purpose related to your development as a tennis player.
Sharing my Mission
As a Tennis Player and Coach
Since January 1st of 2015, I have stepped up my commitment to improve as a tennis player and coach. I have gotten back together with tennis friends that are highly motivated to improve their tennis games and fitness. I play four days a week for two plus hours a day where I get pushed out of my comfort zone on the court and I teach tennis about ten hours on the weekend. I also get to the gym every Monday and Friday at seven am before my 9 to 5 with my mentor Chris Degraff.
- Play 2+ hours of tennis a day, four days a week.
- Ensure all practices are structured and challenging.
- Practice the serve and return every time I step out onto the court.
- Play a minimum of one match per week.
- Workout in the gym a minimum of two times a week for an hour.
- Structure the workouts to incorporate strength training and flexibility.
- Workout with a partner and push each other.
Diet and Rest
- Eat a large breakfast.
- Take in protein before and after each workout.
- Avoid caffeine and candy with high amounts of sugar.
- Maintain a well-rounded diet and take in the amount of calories necessary for the amount of training being done.
- Get eight hours of sleep each night.
Coach and Leader
- Research topics that will add value to tennis player’s development and myself as a coach.
- Stay focused on one research topic at a time.
- Share the information I learn and my experiences on the blog for others.
- Meet with mentors and share thoughts with other coaches or leaders in the tennis community to learn new things.
Step 4: Improve Your Tennis Game
Set the Standard
The fourth step to improving your tennis game is to make your vision the standard and to make it happen. When you set the vision you have for your game as the standard and that you must get there, more likely than not you will. The standard is not a want or a hope it is a force that pulls you and commands your focus to make it happen. In order to make your vision become your reality you need to progress.
Sharing my Standard
As a Tennis Player and Coach
My standard for where I must get myself as a tennis player is playing competitively at the open level. I must play attacking tennis and swing out confidently on all of my strokes. When the opportunity arises to put away my opponent I must make the shot 90+ percent of the time.
My fitness and flexibility must get to the level where it doesn’t break down and affect my tennis performance. Specifically, I must be able to play two three set matches per day, two days in a row without my fitness negatively impacting my performance on the court. When on the full stretch I need to still be able to find strength.
As a coach I must share quality content that is to the point and honest to help others improve their tennis development. I must be a leader in the tennis community and make tennis the primary source of income for providing for myself and my family.
Step 5: Improve Your Tennis Game
Measure the Effectiveness
The final step to playing better tennis and improving your tennis game is to assess the effectiveness of your tennis activities by using the effectiveness equation.
Activity x Effectiveness)^WHY = Results
I picked up the effectiveness equation in sales however it can be applied to tennis as well. The activity can vary from working on different strokes, drills, workouts, etc. There are many activities that you could choose from to work on your game however some may be better than others depending on what you are trying to achieve.
The effectiveness is your strategy, knowledge, technique, and skill. How you go about performing the activity, from the footwork, stroke mechanics, among other factors affects the quality of the activity. As you learn and improve your tennis game, so will the effectiveness.
The WHY in the equation stands for understanding the why, or purpose, behind both the activity and the effectiveness. It is important to understand why you do certain things in tennis so that you can make the connection between doing the activity effectively and how it aligns with your vision and purpose for becoming a better tennis player. Not to mention understanding the why will help you teach yourself tennis and help you improve your tennis game faster.
The results are the skills and knowledge that you receive. The results may come in the form of improved technique on strokes, consistency, power, fitness, footwork, self confidence, etc. Now, I stated before that your vision should add value to your life. You may think what you are looking for is a particular skill or quality but what you are really looking for is progress.
If you weren’t looking to progress you wouldn’t have visited the site or made it to this point in the article. When people feel like they are progressing it brings happiness to their lives. This is pointed out by Tony Robbins continuously and I agree with him.
Lastly, most of us will never play tennis at the professional level, so as a coach it is important that the progress that is made is transferable to other aspects of my student’s lives.
In the Future
One of the purposes I am sharing all of this with you, besides to help you progress as a tennis player, is so that I progress in my development as a tennis player and tennis coach as well.
My hope is that these steps and examples gives you a taste of what its like and you decide to take action.
Please share your plan for becoming a better tennis player by leaving a comment below.