Monday, April 17, 2017

CONTACT V’s COSMETICS: "Don't Train Like a Golfer"

Many players and coaches try to approach tennis with the belief that if they can create the perfect swing, their game and results will automatically improve. I call this the “cosmetic” mindset. They believe that something that looks (cosmetic) correct, translates into a perfect result.

In fact you see golfers at golf driving ranges adopting the “cosmetic” mindset to improve their games all the time. Golfers spend a lot of time tweaking the position of their feet, where their elbows finish, correcting the angles of shoulders and arms etc before and after every stroke.

The problem with adopting a golfers “Cosmetic” mindset for your tennis training is that golf and tennis are completely different sports requiring different training methods. In golf the position of the ball is predictable (stationary), while in tennis the ball is unpredictable and not under our control.  In golf you can stand over the ball and dictate exactly what you want the ball to do. Having a perfect almost mechanical swing guarantees good results in golf.

In tennis however the ball is not predictable and in fact your opponent is trying to make life as difficult as possible for you. Moreover, if you have been trained to respond cosmetically like a Golfer, you will never be able to manage the unpredictable nature of tennis. 

Ninety percent of the players that come to me for help have the cosmetic mindset and are constantly searching for the “perfect swing”.  

So what do I replace the cosmetic mindset with? 


Here’s why the “Contact” mindset helps the player achieve better results and increased understanding and control of the point.

1   Adaptability:
Many times in a point you are forced into controlling a ball that is too deep, too short, too wide or too close to your body, too fast, too slow too high or too low. If you have been trained to adopt the “cosmetic” mindset you will try to take the same “classic” backswing or the same “correct” follow-through… and this is the problem. You may continue to blame yourself by saying that you need to get your racquet back faster, watch the ball closer and move your feet faster but the fact is that many times you cannot take the “correct” backswing or follow-through and that sometimes there is no time for “classic” footwork . In tennis adaptability is a key to playing well

Control of Height & Direction:
Another myth that hinders your progress if you are a player with the “cosmetic” mindset is the belief that the backswing and the follow through dictate where the ball will go. The simple truth is that….

"The ball will go where the racquet(face) angle tells it to go… your follow through dictates the amount of spin on the ball and… your backswing dictates the amount of energy (power) you transfer into the ball… but contact is responsible for Height and direction".  - PD

Adopt the more practical “Contact” mindset from today and watch your ability to control the ball and your opponent improve instantly. 

Here's what to do now...

Avoid the golfers "cosmetic" mindset at all costs!

I recommend that you continue to practice the same drills and continue to play points in your practice just as before, only now change your mindset to a "control the ball at all costs" mindset (by focusing on controlling contact).