In this article let’s have a look at the different forms of tennis training that are available to tennis players. Anybody that seriously wants to improve should think about all tennis training options available!
Generally, I think we can categorize into: Training Alone, Training With A Coach, and Training With Practice Partners.
Even though many people don’t realize it, there are many possibilities to practice alone and really improve your game!
If we simply think about the four areas of Tennis: Technical, Tactical, Physical, and Mental we can easily come up with ways to practice all four areas without needing a practice partner.
Here are just a few options you have:
Shadowswinging is a great form of tennis training. Excellent technique comes through repetition of the correct movements over and over. You do not need to hit balls to do this. Instead you could stand in front of a mirror shadowswinging and observing your technique!
2. Ball Machine
A ball machine can be a great investment for any serious tennis player. Good ball machines these days can even randomly change the speed and spin of the balls they feed; therefore creating a very realistic situation!
3. Physical Training
We all know how important the footwork/fitness part is in Tennis Training. The great thing about it is that to improve this area of your game you do not even need a court and/or practice partner. You can run all sorts of sprints that are tennis-specific, you can work on your movement using shadow-swings, you can go to the gym, you can do a home exercise program using only your own bodyweight, and many more options available!
4. Tactical Training
Even tactical training can be performed well by yourself. Tennis Tactics are about where to hit the ball. So you can set up different target areas for yourself and practice with a ball-machine, drop-hit balls into target areas or you could serve into target areas just to provide a few examples.
5. Mental Training
The mental part in Tennis cannot be underestimated. When two players that are roughly at a similar level play each other it is usually the mentally stronger player that ends up winning!
There are a few things you can work on off the court as well to improve your mental game. Visualization is a great tool that can really help you improve mentally for example. If you have a big match coming up you could spend a few minutes every day before the match thinking about it and visualizing/seeing yourself playing the match well.
Another option to work on your mental game off the court would be to establish some in-between point routines for yourself. Think about what the pro players do between points and try to copy those actions like readjusting strings for example.
Training With A Coach
Most junior players today practice almost solely with a coach. Having a coach there can be great and very important (assuming you have a good coach) but in my opinion players also need to learn to play on their own; come up with their own practices and play matches without the coach watching.
With the coach on the court training obviously becomes easy for the student since he or she is always told what to do and what to work on. Unfortunately, there are not that many great coaches around so chances are that the coach at your local club might not know as much as you think either.
When training with a coach it really comes down to trust!
After a few tennis lessons the student should know whether or not he believes the coach can help him improve and is a good fit personality-wise.
Usually players realize very quickly whether or not the advice given by the coach helps them or not and you should follow your instinct here!
Do not make the mistake of expecting quick results with major changes though! If your coach has convinced you to make a major change to a certain part of your game you need to give it enough time once you decide to go forward with it!
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Training With Practice Partners
There are endless possibilities for tennis training with practice partners. The great thing about it is that it is free and there are usually plenty of practice partners available at any major tennis club.
Here are a few things you could do with your practice partner:
1. Drilling each other
One possibility that is often forgotten among practice partners is drilling each other. This can be a great alternative to hiring an expensive coach though! If both players are willing to work on something you can take turns feeding balls to each other and possibly even correct each other if you know what you are looking for! Trying to teach somebody else can often really help you understand your own game better!
2. Practice Matches
Playing plenty of practice matches is extremely important. After all tennis is played in match format! I always recommend that players try to play as many different opponents as possible in practice matches. If you do not have the luxury of doing so you can play the same guy over and over as well though. Growing up I had only one other junior player in my club that was good enough to play against me and so we ended up playing each other almost every day. This daily rivalry really helped both of us improve!
3. Live-Ball Drills
With Live-Ball Drills two players are rallying and/or playing points against each other. These drills are usually situational drills where you and your partner try to work on a certain rally pattern or play points out under specific situational circumstances. These drills are great to work on specific aspects of your game. An example could be the basic cross-court rally drill where you try to keep the ball in play cross-court for as long as possible.