The beginning of a new tennis season is always so exciting. It is a great opportunity to try out all the new things you’ve worked on in a real tennis match. Wait, you didn’t improve anything during the off-season? All you did was play matches? No new weapons or at least fixes in your game?
Practice may be boring to some of you, but it is vital to improve your level of play. I also think it is important to try new things from time to time. Players that don’t improve over time seem to lose ground. You have all heard you are either improving or getting worse, and I think that is true.
New aspects of your game should be introduced slowly and always with a pro or at least a helpful eye. I want you to understand right up front that you mortals should not always be trying the things you see on television. And I caution all you pros who are not as smart as I am, be careful what you teach and to whom. We are trying to grow the game, which means we need to keep people playing and healthy. Some clients and students simply cannot do some things, and we professionals should help them to understand that. Choose your pro wisely!
By no means do I ever want to limit a player’s progress. But I want people to understand that progress is usually slow and takes work. Sometimes a player is limited by an old injury, conditioning, a lack of strength in certain areas, or any number of things. A simple grip change may require a different swing, using different muscles, and a different follow through. Many “improvements” are for special situations and require many hours of instruction and repetition to master a shot that you can add to your arsenal. Additions are just that. Remember when working on a new shot not to lose a current shot. I never try to completely change someone’s game.
New grips, better conditioning, different or improved follow through, new shot patterns, improved touch shots, new serves or different serves and new tactics are just a few ways to improve your game. Trying to work on all of these might overload the computer and the body. Pick one or two things to work on at a time and stick with them. Change or improvement can take many practice sessions to show progress. I think you have to “make” a new shot at least 10 times to “own it.” And I think it probably takes a hundred “misses” to make those 10. Stay on course and don’t get discouraged.
Finally, as always, I encourage having fun with your new toys. New shots will be missed from time to time. I don’t miss them, but you probably will! Take that fun attitude with you and just keep swinging. The reward is coming if you put in the work. I promise. See you on the courts. c
Tracy Townsend is a resort tennis expert, and his company, 30A Tennis, manages Seaside Tennis on behalf of the Seaside Community Development Corp. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (850) 231-2214. For news, events and court conditions, find Seaside Tennis on Facebook.