One of the most important concepts to understand for any tennis player is the idea that the quality of your practice sessions is much more important than the quantity of your practice sessions!
People usually make one of two mistakes with their tennis practice:
1. They Generally Practice Without A Purpose (Low Practice Quality)
2. They Practice For Too Long And With Low Intensity/Quality
These mistakes apply on a broader level as well as on a micro-level. What do I mean by that ?
On a broader level: Two quality tennis practice sessions per week will usually lead to more improvement than four tennis practice sessions that lack intensity and quality!
On a smaller level: Practicing for one hour with a clear purpose and very good focus on what you are trying to accomplish is much more effective than practicing for two hours when you are not 100% focused.
1. Practicing Without A Purpose
This is extremely common and something that I have talked about quite a bit previously as well. If you want to improve you should have a very clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish in any given practice session and you need to take yourself out of the comfort zone. (For more on the right challenge and taking yourself out of the comfort zone see this article: Tennis Improvement)
A lot of times people don’t even know that their practice is not very focused because they have never practiced in a different manner. This is common among all levels of Tennis!
2. Practicing For Too Long And With Low Intensity/Quality
This is something that is especially common with ambitious tennis players that think more practice equals getting better. These players stay out on the court for hours and hours hitting balls.
What they often don’t realize is that the longer you practice, the more difficult it gets to stay focused on quality for the entire session!
Usually these players would improve much more if they would go from 3 hour practice sessions to 1 hour sessions where they are extremely focused on what they want to work on!
Therefore, I usually recommend my students to practice only the amount of time that they can stay really focused and then slowly but surely build up that time!
One thing to keep in mind is that even most professional players practice only 1.5 hours or 2 hours maximum at a time!
A Common Example
A very common example is practicing your serve. This is an area where most players are way too focused on quantity and not on quality. Players will hit 100 serves in a really short time period, oftentimes even holding way too many balls in their hand and stuffing their pockets with even more balls!
Does this sound familiar ? Do you put way too many balls in your hand and your pockets when practicing your serve ? If so I would suggest that you quickly change that habit!
Hitting 20 serves with a real purpose and focus is much more effective than hitting 100 serves without a clear purpose and focus!
Take-Aways For You
I would suggest that all of you reading this spend some time evaluating your practice routines. Most likely you have been doing the same routines for many years but who says that these are the best possible routines for improving your tennis game ?
How many times per week do you practice ? How long do you practice ? How focused are you during those practice sessions and what exercises challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and improve your game ?
I constantly think about the effectiveness of my practice sessions for my students. I want them to be challenged during the sessions and if not I think about how I can create a new challenge that will help them get better.
Think about how you can restructure your sessions so that you have a better chance to improve your game!