List Headline Image
Updated by Lissa Johnston on Aug 22, 2017
 REPORT
16 items   1 followers   0 votes   402 views

These Things Are Keeping You From Playing Your Best Tennis

I am often asked by my students (or their parents) what they should be doing to improve their tennis game. There are many simple things that can be done, and that's another blog post. But hardly any student, regardless of age, ever asks me the question I would rather answer: what should I STOP doing that is keeping me from achieving my full potential?

16

Tennis goals are not aligned with personal priorities

Tennis goals are not aligned with personal priorities

As the saying goes, you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? Do you want to make the school team? Improve your ranking? Advance to state/sectional/nationals? Then structure the amount of time you spend on tennis accordingly. Will your current amount of playing time get you where you need to go? Hint: if you answered yes to any of those three questions, an hour a week ain't gonna cut it.

15

Indulging yourself during practices or fun matches

Indulging yourself during practices or fun matches

Working on your favorite shots is enjoyable, but don't stick your head in the sand by ignoring the things that give you trouble. Don't be like that guy at the golf driving range that spends an hour hitting his driver and never takes his putter out of his bag.

14

Ignoring the fitness factor

Ignoring the fitness factor

The average tennis match lasts an hour and a half. If you are evenly matched with your opponent, fitness will be the difference.

13

Ignoring the footwork factor

Ignoring the footwork factor

You must be able to get to the ball and position yourself properly to have any prayer of hitting quality shots consistently.

12

Ignoring the mental factor

Ignoring the mental factor

Spending time perfecting a kick serve is time wasted if you choke every time you fall behind in a match. Like most other sports - heck, like most things in life! - mental toughness is key in tennis.

11

Ignoring the basics

Ignoring the basics

You must get your serve in. You must get your return in. You must hold serve. You must keep track of the score.

10

Your equipment quality does not reflect your commitment to the game

Your equipment quality does not reflect your commitment to the game

Sure, we are all on a budget. But thanks to Amazon, Google, eBay and Tennis Warehouse, there is no excuse for not doing your homework and finding the best equipment for the best price. Grabbing the cheapest stick off the rack at Wally World (without even trying it first, for crying out loud!) is not only a waste of money, it tells me you are not walking the walk regarding commitment to the game.

9

Fearing failure

Fearing failure

In every sporting event, exactly 50% of the competitors come up losers. So the odds are excellent that you're going to lose sometimes. You're also going to make mistakes sometimes. Get over it. Take a few chances. Being careful in tennis is overrated. I had a coach say this to me once after I blew an opportunity to end the point:
Coach: "What were you doing [with that shot]?"
Me: "I was trying to be careful."
Coach: "What did 'careful' get you???"

8

Believing you're not ready

Believing you're not ready

You know what? You're probably right - you're never 100% ready. But if we all waited until we were 100% ready before we played our first match, the USTA would be out of business. It is much better to get that first match or tournament played and out of the way. You won't believe how great it feels not to have that hanging over your head anymore.

7

Chasing other's personal bests and ignoring your own

Chasing other's personal bests and ignoring your own

I wish I had a nickel for every time I had to remind a student of all the great things they did during a match. Set realistic, achievable, relevant personal goals and commit to them. Never mind what is happening with the player across the net.

6

Wasting time

Wasting time

Even when you are playing for fun, practice with a purpose. Have at least one shot or strategy you are working on every time you walk out on court.

5

Chasing perfection

Chasing perfection

I don't ask my players for perfection, no matter how attractive that line sounds in Remember the Titans. But I do ask for constant commitment to improvement. Every time you step on court, you should be a little better at something than you were the last time you played.

4

Taking the easy way out

Taking the easy way out

Stop playing only against the opponents you feel confident you can beat. Challenge yourself by finding new opponents or playing up. Playing down is unpleasant for all involved. It makes you lazy.

3

Lack of effort

Lack of effort

I had a student tell me the other day he only had a few things he would try hard for and if he wasn't doing something well it was because he was not interested in trying hard for that particular task. He was not at all embarrassed to admit this. Quite the opposite - he seemed genuinely convinced this was a rational course of action. If this is your philosophy, see #11. It's you're choice if you want to waste your time, but please don't waste mine.

2

Blaming others

Blaming others

Some of my young students upbraid me from time to time because my feed to them was 'too far away' or 'too low' or some such. I give them a pass up to a point because they often don't yet understand it is up to them to go get that ball, no matter what. If you are older than about 8 and find yourself blaming losses on others, please take a hard look at your game. Sometimes your opponent is just a better player. But sometimes they're not.

1

Focusing on the negative

Focusing on the negative

When you are adjusting strategy during a match, coach yourself positively. Avoid telling yourself not to do something - 'don't double fault, don't double fault'. Instead, direct yourself in the positive - 'let's get this first serve in', or be even more specific - 'first serve flat and to the body'. Negativity is contagious and devastating. Don't let it get control of your mental game.