Most tennis players are not really sure what they need to do in order to improve their game and therefore they often remain at the same level. I believe that most players want to improve though and in this post I want to share my thoughts with you on what the real keys for tennis improvement are.
Here Is My Formula For Tennis Improvement:
Good Information + Hard Work + Persistence = Improvement
The first thing you need is information/advice on what exactly you should be working on. In Tennis we look at four areas of your game:
The first step for everyone should be an analysis of what area of your game needs the most improvement!
What I have found over the years is that most recreational players have major deficits in their technique and therefore will benefit the most from working on this area of their game!
So in theory you want to start working on that area of your game that will bring the biggest improvement for the amount of time and energy you are willing to invest in your tennis game! Nevertheless, it is of course also a question of what area of your game you prefer to work on and what will result in the most amount of fun for you.
The problem usually starts with the analysis though. Very few players realize what they should be working on and a lot of the tennis coaches in tennis clubs do not have the education and knowledge to figure this out as well.
To me the main reason players don’t improve as much as they could and should is the fact that nobody tells them precisely what they need to do in order to get better!
The human brain is programmed to resist change and that makes it so difficult to improve your tennis game. You need precise step-by-step advice on what you should be doing or you will not improve!
Hard Work Or The Right Challenge
The second ingredient for tennis improvement is hard work. Just like anywhere else in life, you will only become good at Tennis if you work hard at it!
Hard work alone will only get you so far though. Basically you need to work hard and smart. This is where the concept of the right challenge comes in.
In order to improve you first and foremost need to challenge yourself in the right manner and in the right areas in your practice sessions!
Last year I read two great books on this subject. One is “Talent Is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin and the other one is “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle. Both of these books are worth reading for anybody interested in these subjects!
One of the most important concepts from Colvin’s book is called “Deliberate Practice”. When you think about practice sessions there are certain practice sessions that challenge you in the right amount and it is those sessions that make you a better tennis player. You will not improve if you are either not challenged enough or if you are challenged too much.
Most tennis players stay in the comfort zone in their practice sessions!
A typical practice looks something like this: Hit cross-court for a few minutes on each side, maybe do one or two drills that involve a bit of movement, then hit some volleys, serves and play a few points but usually not even a practice set.
The problem with this kind of practice is that you stay in the comfort zone. The problem is not the drills/exercises though. It is the way they are performed!
You could hit cross-court and challenge yourself in a completely new way. An example would be hitting cross-court and touching the center of the court with your foot after every hit. This would force you to move really way and would challenge you to improve your footwork in this drill.
My goal as a coach is usually to create drills and situations that force my students to be challenged just enough. Start thinking about your own practice sessions in the same way and you have taken a good step towards a better tennis game!
Quality Practice vs. Quantity Practice
A lot of tennis players are in the belief that practicing more will result in better Tennis. This is only true to a certain degree.
The most important aspect in a practice session is the intensity or the amount of challenge involved!
You could practice for one hour and if you are completely challenged in that time frame it would result in a lot more improvement than a three hour practice session where you stay in the comfort zone!
Think about your practice routines. Are you challenging yourself in new ways or are you performing the same routines at the same intensity over and over ?
Last but not least you need persistence in order to improve your tennis game. Trying to change certain aspects of your game will often result in playing worse before you finally start playing better. Therefore, it is extremely important to set yourself reasonable goals in reasonable time frames and stick to the plan.
If you are working on your forehand technique for example and it is not getting better immediately, then that is completely normal. The important part is to have a practice plan that is based on good information and then follow that plan!
If you are doing the same practice sessions with the same intensities over and over, then you do not need to be surprised if you are not improving!
What you need to do is rethink your practice sessions and design them so that you are challenged enough to improve. You need to take yourself out of the comfort zone!
One of the key ingredients for improvement is the right information. You need to know exactly what you want to work on and have a step-by-step action plan on how to get there.
I started this website exactly for that reason. To give you guys all the information necessary to take your tennis game to the next level!