In recent videos and blog posts I talked mostly about optimizing your technique and I do believe that technique is on average the most important component holding you guys back from playing better Tennis. Nevertheless, if someone asks me what the quickest way to better Tennis is, my answer is usually to practice with a lot of physical intensity and focus on becoming a better athlet!
What Do I Mean With Physical Intensity ?
If you ever watched some professional players practice, then you have a good idea of what physical intensity is. These guys are constantly finding ways to challenge themselves physically while doing the same drills.
Let’s assume you are practicing and you are simply hitting cross-court forehands and/or backhands. Many times I see recreational players do this sort of drill and not break a sweat while doing it. That basically tells me right away that they are not practicing with enough physical intensity!
Maria Sharapova is a great example for a player that practices with high physical intensity and I believe doing this for so many years is one of the keys for her great success!
Maria Sharapova Practicing With High Physical Intensity
If you do a simple drill like hitting cross-court correctly, you can be completely exhausted after a few minutes of hitting. The difference is in the details. Are you moving back to the middle after every shot ? Are you making enough small adjustment steps before hitting similar to the way Maria is doing it in the above video ?
When To Focus On Technique And When On Physical Intensity
If your strokes are not very good, there is no way around improving them if you want to play high level Tennis. Technique to me is the basis for great Tennis. Nevertheless, there comes a point where you want to play tournaments and compete and at this point you should not focus on technique anymore.
In a competitive phase you want to focus on physical intensity and tactics and not on technique!
Given your technical abilities you will play your best Tennis when you are not thinking about your strokes and when you are totally focused on movement and tactics.
How To Practice Physical Intensity On The Court
There are many ways to increase physical intensity either inside your current practice sessions or with new drills. The main goal is to challenge yourself to work harder from a physical standpoint; to train with more intensity, to move your feet better and develop better tennis specific muscles!
Here are a few ways to practice with more intensity:
1. Extremely tough basket feeding
I do a lot of this. Basically I feed my students balls at a faster pace than what they are used to at their current level. This forces them to work as hard as they possibly can in order to still hit the ball well. Very effective and something not many coaches and players do as far as I know
2. Practice with better players
If you practice with someone that hits harder than you do and with more consistency then that will automatically challenge your physical intensity
3. Tweak Your Drills For More Intensity
When hitting cross-court you could mark a spot close to the middle of the court that you want to retract to after every shot for example. You could also focus on the amount of steps you take between shots and try to get it up higher for example
These are just some ideas. If you do it right you can make pretty much any drill physically challenging!