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Methods for Improving Tennis Training

Methods for Improving Tennis Training
By: Simon Grieve
Added:
01/01/70

"The quality of a mans life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavour” Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packers Head coach 1958-1967.

Federer has taken the game to a new level……Is it luck, a god given talent, or the result of these and an incredible amount of hard work over a long period of time? Nadal has shown incredible mental toughness, moving to the brink of victory against Federer in Miami and then winning back to back Masters Series tournaments in Monte Carlo and then Rome. How is he so mentally tough? At match point up Richard Gasquet hit an awesome backhand passing shot down the line against Federer in Monte Carlo, was he amazed by it or has he hit thousands of these before in practice?

To most tennis fans, the world’s top players are god-like with their ability to hit seemingly effortless shots, but these shots have taken hours of quality practice. Through a huge amount of research The Lawn Tennis Association have identified their long-term player development guidelines that state it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours of quality practice to develop a top tennis player.

So what is quality practice? What are the secrets that world-class athletes follow?

There is no secret, there is no magic bean, no shortcut. Speak to any successful businessman or businesswoman, or any professional athlete, the keys to becoming the best you can become or reaching the pinnacle of your field is setting your standards high and working consistantly over a number of years.

“When hungry, eat your rice; when tired, close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean” (Lin Chi). You could continue this quote….when you want to hit good kick serves out to the backhand, practice hitting kick serves to the backhand. Simple eh! Well it all depends on how much you want ‘it’!

A Simple Drill, Done Better!

This article will highlight a simple drill that is the ‘bread and butter’ of tennis training. The drill is done world-wide by thousands of people, but as bananarama sang, ‘it aint what you do, it’s the way that you do it!’ Imagine the way Coria hits forehands cross-court in practice; compare this to yourself or the players you coach, any difference? This article will endeavour to show how the standards can be raised on the most basic of all practice drills.


Forehands cross-court

It has been said by many tennis coaches, that the player who can out rally his opponent cross-court will win the match most times. Why, because you will force your opponent to choose the lower percentage down the line shot more often. Subsequently, it’s important to have a solid cross-court game.

In order to become extremely consistent, thousands of balls have to be hit the right way, this may sound tough, boring or monotonous, but it is essential and if you really want to achieve your full potential you will do what it takes!

Ways to raise the standard, make it more exciting and improve your chance of out rallying your opponent crosscourt.

1. You Must split step on every shot

2. You Must regain good court positioning

A “READY CONDITION” IS DIFFERENT TO A “READY POSITION” THE PLAYER IS PHYSICALLY READY BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, MENTALLY ALERT…YOU CAN SEE IT IN THE EYES!

 

                

                

                

                 

3. You Must be tactically aware of where you are hitting the ball.

4. You Must treat every forehand as a different shot. No two balls land in the same place so the technique and tactical implication will be different.

DIFFERENT BALL POSITION, PACE AND SPIN CALL FOR DIFFERENT TACTICAL DECISIONS

Deep Ball (Fig.1): Look to hit high and deep to push your opponent back.

                

                

                

                 

“WIDE BALL: LOOK TO CREATE AN ANGLE TO PULL YOUR OPPONENT OUT OF COURT”

                

                

                

                 


“SHORT BALL: LOOK TO DRIVE LOWER OVER THE NET WITH PACE FORCING YOUR OPPONENT TO BE RUSHED”

                

                

                

                 

Learning how to practice hard and optimise practice time is essential. At first, periods of high intensity training will be short. Nevertheless, keep aware of the effort levels and take breaks when needed. As you or your pupils get better the periods of quality will increase and the standard of performance will rocket! 


“Quality repetition is one in which there has been a very large investment of mental effort” (Dent 1998). 


In February 2000 I sat in the crowd at Les Petites As, Junior World Championships in Tarbes, Southern France. I was charting the match as part of my Performance Coaches Award (PCA) project. The emphasis of the analysis was to see how the players controlled their emotions. The winner mesmerized the crowd; he was solid as a rock and looked like a mini professional. When he won points he was calm, when he was mentally challenged he remained calm. Five years later, this player has just entered the top ten, Rafael Nadel is his name, and he is mentally tough now because he has been working on it for YEARS!

As a coach or player you should learn how to give your best mental and physical effort and then maintain the highest standards possible. In my opinion if at the end of your career you can honestly say you did everything possible to become the best you could become, then you are a complete success regardless of the level you achieved. Arguably if you maximise your potential you are as successful as any of the great tennis players that have played the game.

“Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would feel were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly” – Thomas Jefferson

Kind regards

Simon Grieve




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