“It’s important to develop your game beyond technique and towards feeling…
…with feeling, technique improves”
The quote above is important because what many players and coaches believe is that great technique is the end destination. The belief is that with great technique you have arrived. That’s far from the reality!
Great technique is really important. It’s part of the armour that will protect you from the pressure that comes in high stakes tennis. Your game is much less prone to breakdown in matches because good technique is your firewall to the “bugs” your opponent is trying to hurt you with.
Another problem with this technique above all else attitude is that players then spend hours working hard to try and perfect their technique on a cosmetic level (how it looks) and fail to develop it past the level of just hitting thousands of balls.
Social Media is full of crazy drills showing players being encouraged to hit and run faster and faster… drills with absolutely no relationship to what happens in a real tennis match.
LET’S START WITH MAKING YOUR TRAINING REALISTIC.
Many of the crazy video posts on social media show a player crushing the ball 30 times, moving from the centre of the baseline to a short ball and returning back to the baseline. There are cones to jump over or run around and the whole thing looks impressive from the clubhouse. However, this scenario seldom happens in a match. It’s visual bubble gym!
Is the player learning how to create this short ball? Is the player learning how to make decisions on which of these short balls to attack? Is the player learning which is the best target (shot selection) to hit to? The player is working on none of these things. Please don’t waste your time copying them.
· Creating the type of situations (balls) you need to win the point. Usually this will involve working to create short balls or high balls or both short and high balls.
· Now you’ve created an easier ball to attack on but often you’re still left with another decision to make, attack this ball or wait for a better opportunity on another ball?
· You’ve created the ideal ball and you’ve made the decision to attack on this one… now you have a final decision to make… where to hit it! This will mostly depend on your opponent. You need to consider their strengths and weaknesses and also try to keep yourself safe from your opponent’s counter-attack.
All these components are fundamental to you becoming a better player. Unfortunately, I can’t provide you with these decisions. You’ll have to learn to make them yourself based on trial and error
Your job is to practice drills and points that mirror each of these components everyday so that your decision making becomes fast and accurate and your execution of them becomes almost automatic.
One thing is for sure however, by practicing in this way you are elevating your game past the cosmetic level (what the stroke looks like) and past the level of hitting 30 times to the point of exhaustion (who hits 30 balls like that in a match anyway?) your game will begin to click into place and the results will come!