Most tennis training tips focus on the physical tennis fitness part of the game. But these tennis training tips are for the mental and emotional side of the game too.
A great tennis athlete trains not only for the fitness element, but they focus on the intangibles such as the mental game, tennis nutrition, technical strokes development and much more.
Whether you play competitively or just for exercise, the game of tennis is always a lot more enjoyable if you are able to play it well. Improving as a tennis player encompasses many aspects of the game that all need to be developed together in order for you to become the best tennis player you can possibly be.
Tennis Training Tips: The Mental Game
Every sport has a physical and a mental side. Tennis, being the individual sport that it is, requires equal attention to both parts. There are no teammates to help you out when you’re physically or mentally tired. Therefore, the first and foremost tennis training tip would be to develop both your physical ability on court and your general psychological approach to the game.
Tennis Training Tips: The Tennis Fitness
The physical side of tennis covers your technical competence and your fitness. The technical aspect pertains to mainly to your strokes. Tennis training tip number two would be: develop your strokes. This is the most obvious part of anyone’s development as a player.
The correct techniques and execution of the various shots is the foundation on which any tennis player must build upon the rest of his or her game.
There is simply no other way to perfect these strokes other than to spend time out on the practice court. Former world number one Monica Seles was known to practice a particular shot for a whole week (for example, a backhand down the line) in order to perfect it before going on to another shot. Although each shot is different, there are some common guidelines:
- (1) watch the ball;
- (2) prepare early;
- (3) hit the ball at the right comfortable distance in front of your body;
- (4) follow through; and
- (5) maintain balance throughout.
Tennis Training Tips: Technique and Tennis Strokes
The technical facet also covers your movement, especially your footwork. Obviously, this goes hand in hand with the proper techniques of striking the ball because you cannot execute a stroke correctly without being in balance.
Arriving at the ball with good balance requires that you have taken the right steps with your feet in order to get there.
Tennis training tip number three would be: improve your footwork. This is done by incorporating footwork drills along with your practice sessions. The best footwork drills should emphasize three things: (1) lateral movement; (2) forward and backward movement; and (3) the ability to recover back to the ready position.
Technical development is the most fundamental thing towards becoming a tennis player. But any person cannot just go participating in any sport or physical activity without being physically fit to begin with.
In fact, everybody should consult a physician first before starting an exercise program or new physical activity such as tennis. A doctor will evaluate his or her overall capacity for activity and exercise prior to actual participation in a fitness program or a sport like tennis. Fitness for tennis requires a combination of strength, stamina and speed.
Tennis Training Tip #1: Tennis Fitness Strength Training
Tennis training tip number three would be: improvement of strength. Strength training in tennis is unique because it emphasizes not just muscle power. There has to be strength throughout the entire range of motion.
Therefore, flexibility and proper stretching is required along with strength training. Also, tennis is a sport that utilizes some muscle groups more than others.
These muscle groups have to be worked out and kept elastic at the same time to prevent injuries and make stroke production more smooth and efficient.
These areas include the wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulder, abdominals, hips, legs and calves. However, concentrating on just these muscle groups will lead to an overall imbalance in physical strength. This could lead to deterioration in posture and balance. Therefore, a strength training program must keep all the major muscle groups in condition, not just in terms of strength but also flexibility.
For example, a right handed player might work out on his right arm and shoulder more than on his left side, thinking that there is no benefit in exercising the non-dominant side. But working only on the right side will cause an imbalance in strength which results in uneven posture and possible deterioration of critical parts of the musculoskeletal system like the spine, which would then lead to a host of other health problems including derangements in neurological and circulatory function. The back is also a frequently neglected area for tennis players.
A strong back will help in protecting the spine which is constantly subject to twisting and bending.
Tennis Training Tip #2: Training for Stamina
To win a tennis match, sometimes you just need to outlast your opponent. This is especially true for players who are of very similar ability and skill level. Stamina becomes a critical factor. The next tennis training tip then is: improve endurance.
The most basic way to work on this is to increase aerobic resistance by doing activities like long distance running or swimming.
However, endurance in tennis is vastly different from other aerobic sports like running, cycling or cross country skiing.
Tennis actually emphasizes anaerobic resistance because it is a sport where there are short bursts of physical exertion followed by periods of rest. Furthermore, each point in tennis can be entirely different from the next point.
There could be a 3-stroke rally followed by a 10 stroke rally where you run all over the court and a 50 stroke rally where you are mostly hitting steadily from a particular position. You have to be prepared for different kinds of points.
Tennis Training Tip #3: Training for Agility
The ability to run down every ball, recover for the next shot and the quickness in getting to a strong attacking position on court all depend on the development of speed and agility. Speed is defined by how fast a player can move from one place to another. Agility is how quickly he or she can change directions or speeds. The fifth tennis training tip is to improve these two fitness components.
Speed can be increased through running sprints. Agility is best improved with shuttle runs and footwork drills. It is also advisable to engage in sets of exercises or drills that develop both of these components. Additionally, exercises for speed and agility can and should be done in sets in order to improve stamina as well.
Tennis Training Tip #4: Proper Tennis Diet
The sixth tennis training tip is the modification of your diet. This should be tailored to suit a player’s specific metabolic and physiological profile.
Proper nutrition in tennis consists of a combination of high quality protein and complex carbohydrates. These are the core materials for developing strength and the proper fuels for endurance, respectively.
During a long match, players need to replenish energy, keep well hydrated as well as replace lost electrolytes. Energy bars, water, sports drinks and fruits like bananas are recommended. More importantly, a good tennis diet should consist of food that satisfies the individual palate as well. It is not advisable to totally cut out sweets, treats and junk food.
Rather, these should be taken in moderation or in limited portions only. All healthy food is good food for tennis. Needless to say, the daily requirements for essential vitamins and minerals should be met.
Tennis Training Tip #5: Improve Mental Tennis Toughness
The last tennis training tip relates to something that is not usually thought about in training. This aspect of the sport is called mental toughness.
Usually, people do not associate this with exercise and training because they think that it is not something that can be developed through drills and work out routines. In the literal sense they are correct.
Working out in the gym and doing footwork drills aren’t going to directly influence your mental toughness. But there are also exercises and drills for the mind, and they can be incorporated into your practice sessions.
A good way to approach this is to treat practice matches just like you would an actual match. You should practice focusing, staying in the moment, blocking out distractions and thinking about what you need to do.
Also, work on shots that you would actually use in a match in order to develop your confidence. Concentration can be developed by playing games like first-to-eleven points and the ability to handle pressure can be increased by playing tie-breakers.
Tennis Training Tip #6: Strategy and Tactics
The last tip is also about the mental aspect of the game: strategy and tactics. If you have sufficiently developed your game, you will know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Before a match, you should know who your opponent is and how he or she plays.
Take into account your own game and devise a plan that can make the most of your strengths and minimize exposure of your weaknesses while at the same time attacking your opponent’s weaknesses and limiting the effect of his or her strength. This is the time to think about depth, placement, direction, spin, pace, angle and court position.
These all sound like a lot of hard work but they are things that have been proven time and again at all levels of the game. It is all well worth the effort if you want to enjoy the sweetest reward of playing the game better and winning more.
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