Foundational Pillars for Improving your Tennis Gam
There are many different types of tennis players out there trying to improve their tennis game, but at times they do not know what they can do to improve their game. In this article, “Foundational Pillars to Improve your Tennis Game,” I want to discuss the 4 pillars that tennis players need to do in order to improve their tennis game to the fullest.
In order to improve as a tennis player and become the best that you can be you will need to practice in a group setting and take private lessons as well. At On The Rise Tennis we recommend that you should go to be hitting 2 times a week to maintain your tennis game and hit 3 plus times a week to improve as a player. If you are able to get out and play tennis 3 times a week the ideal ratio would be 2 group drills a and 1 private or semi-private lesson a week. Private lessons are an important part to developing your tennis game because the coach has the ability to focus only on your individual game for the 60 to 90 minutes of that lesson. When you take privates, the coach can further discuss strategies that are individualized for your game and your style of play. Private lessons are times when you can really dial in to technical issues that you may have as a player or spend time working on the tedious tasks that are important for any tennis player to do in order to improve as a player as quick as possible. Group drills are a great time and place to practice the skills that you have worked on during your private lessons. During group drills at OTR we take time to pull players aside and work on individual technique such as swing path, footwork and other things but nothing can compare to the individual attention that you as a player receive during a private lesson.
The next important foundational pillar that is essential for any player to improve their game is match play that actually matters. Nothing can compare to the “pressure” that you experience during a match. If you are spending time and effort to improve your game at practice but missing out on vital match play you are doing a disservice to all the time and effort that you are putting in to improve your game. I have heard many young tennis players explain a loss away with I can hit that shot in practice or I beat him/her in practice a week ago. The problem is that practice matches do not mean much. Yes, it is important to try and practice sets and practice sets are a great way to develop your game, but everything changes once you enter into a real match. If you are not spending time playing in matches that matter then your tennis game will not develop as quickly as you want. As a player there is a learning curve with playing in big matches, playing under different types of pressure and learning the valuable skills that are necessary to win even when you aren’t playing your best tennis that day. Let’s face it, there are only a few matches a year where you play your absolute best tennis all the rest of your matches you play between not great, okay, to pretty good. It is vital as a player to find ways to win when you are not playing your best game.
(As a side note to playing in tournaments remember… everyone losses. Try your best to not take a loss to personally. The only people that truly lose are those that do not play the tournament to begin with.)
At On The Rise we recommend playing between 1-2 USTA tournaments a month, the equivalent of 5-6 matches that matter every month. If you are playing less then this you are not giving yourself the opportunity to learn how to play in pressure situations and if you are playing more then 2 tournaments a month you are likely going to get burnt out as a player.
Off Court Training
Many players can accomplish the first two parts of the Getting Better at tennis formula, but few players spend the time, effort and energy on the last two pieces of the wheel. Remember if a foundational pillar is missing you are not developing your game as quickly or as completely as it can be. Off- Court training is a huge part of becoming the best tennis player that you can be. Off-Court training includes the following; strength training, agility training, cardiovascular training, stretching and myofascial release. All of these things are vital to improving your tennis game. As a player if you are unsure what to work on talk to your coaches about what you should train. Off- Court training is a very individual thing in my opinion. Some players need to spend time getting stronger, some need to spend time getting quicker, some players need to put on weight other might need to lean out. As a student athlete us coaches understand your time is limited so make sure you are focusing on off-court training that is important for improving your tennis game. Within the next two weeks I will be giving OTR members an insight into the current training regiment that I am going through. This can give you an idea of some of the individualism that goes into a training program.
Lastly, as a tennis player it is important to stay healthy and be on the court as much as you possibly can. Injuries are an unfortunate part of any sport, but I truly feel many of them can be prevented if you are spending time working on preventative maintenance. This includes stretching, overly tight muscles make it easier for your body to be in a compromised position. If you are too weak in some areas, your body might not be able to handle the stress demands that are placed on you during practice and matches. When you do happen to get injured on the tennis court make sure you are spending your time rebuilding the strength and flexibility in your injured areas. When injuries do happen don’t get back on the court too quickly and re-injure yourself. Take your time and make sure that you don’t come back too early and get re-injured again. Also, find ways to train around your injury. If you offhand wrist is hurt you can spend some time hitting forehands, working on volleys and your slice backhand. Many times, when you have an upper body injury you can still train your legs. Work on agility, strength and balance in your lower body. If you want to become a good tennis player be creative with how you can train, but be smart about it and listen to your body.
If you can follow this formula as a tennis player I can guarantee you that you will improve tremendously as a player. In my opinion few players put in the time and effort to complete all of these little things on and off the tennis court to improve and become the best player that they can be. As Zig Ziggler said, “There is always room at the top because no one is willing to put the effort in to get there.”