Updated: Feb 10
If your goal is to be a good, even great, tennis player, it takes more than just spending time on the court. In fact, tennis success hinges on not just what you do on the court, but how you prepare yourself off the court as well. There are a lot of things that you can do to improve your physical condition and mental preparedness even when you’re miles away from the nearest tennis court; the following are a few of the things that you can do to improve your game even when playing a match isn’t an option.
Become A Student Of The Game
Every great tennis player does more than actually playing the game; they put a significant amount of time into studying the game itself. When you’re not on the court, take some time to read up on the game. Everything from the biographies of professional players to studies of the mechanics of the game to tips and tricks written by pros and tennis instructors can help you to step up your game and mentally prepare yourself for tennis success. If you have learned something from your readings, record them in a tennis journal. If you do this diligently, you will find that you have developed a very valuable “secret manual” for yourself.
Watch The Pros At Work
One way to keep your game sharp when you can’t get to the court as well as to pick up some new ideas for your own game is to watch professional tennis matches. You can watch live or archived matches – if it’s a possibility for you, you may even want to consider traveling to some of the tournaments to watch professional players in action up close. You can learn a lot by watching other players and you may want to take notes on some of the things that you see so you can try to incorporate these techniques into your own game the next time you’re on the court.
Of course, you can learn from watching even amateur players; one thing which sets a great tennis player apart from the rest is the understanding that there is something to be learned from every match. Make a point of watching other players when you get the chance; you never know what you might learn from it, even if they’re not Roger Federer or Maria Sharapova.
Get In Shape
Tennis can be a physically demanding sport and the better condition you’re in physically, the better your game will be. Regular exercise isn’t just good for your health; it’s also good for your game. Regular cardiovascular exercise will give you the endurance you need and strength training can help you to put some power behind your ground strokes and serves. Don’t forget stretching either. This helps you avoid injury during your workouts and on the court as well as enhancing your flexibility, which is critical to tennis success.
Drills And Exercises
Not all of your practice has to be on a tennis court. There are plenty of exercises which you can do at home or at a local park to keep your skills sharp and better yourself as a tennis player. The following are just a few.
Practice Your Swing In Front Of The Mirror
Especially if you’ve been watching clips of professional tennis matches, one way to try out new techniques that you’ve seen the pros use is to try them at home in front of the mirror. This lets you work out new swing techniques and improve your mechanics while being able to keep an eye on your form. This can give you some valuable insight into your swing, since you ordinarily can’t see what your swing looks like when you’re on the court. Take advantage of the opportunity to watch yourself and you may be surprised how much it can do for your game.
You’ll need a partner for this, but you don’t necessarily need a tennis court to work on your volleys. This is a drill which is often done on-court, but can be done anywhere that you have enough room. Stand about twenty feet apart and volley back and forth, trying to keep the volley going. For the best results, switch up periodically, going from forehand to backhand volleys and alternating the two to work on your forehand and backhand at the same time.
Set Realistic Goals
Remember that no one achieves tennis success overnight, so don’t push yourself too hard (but do push yourself). Set small, achievable goals which give you the motivation to keep progressing as a tennis player. Over time, you’ll find your game improving by leaps and bounds and once you get back on the court, you’ll be able to play a very competitive game of tennis.
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