Archive | March, 2012

Training to win

23 Mar

Many players make great trainers on the tennis court. They work hard, their intensity is good, technically they are sound. They are great hitting partners. But on match day it all goes out the window. Shots that are made time and time again in practice constantly misfire, balls that are run down easily at training seem out of reach, in fact there is no resemblance between the “great hitter” and the match player. I’ll bet you know someone just like this.

There are many players who fit this mould, and there are many coaches who unknowingly contribute to this           dilemna. Why? Some players and coaches just want to hit the ball well – “how does my swing look?”, these are the technical coaches, great for swing adjustments, and to develop and implement that text book technique. Lots of analytical work, lots of tinkering with swing shapes, lots of fed balls and video playbacks. All very appropriate for some and at some stage.

Still others drill and drill, day in day out, striving for perfection off the fed ball, or via a set rally pattern. All good practice, necessary – yes, and this will improve your game, but if its winning matches that is concerning you the most, then shift your focus. You may not have hit a serve or a return in the session, or just a few are thrown in at the end. These are the two most important shots in the game and can also be the most ignored by the “drill sargeant.”

Important as technique is – and the basics are essential – there are so many elements that come into playing winning tennis.  Seek a coach or program that clearly has a player focus – and not an homogenised “one theme for all” approach. Afterall, and this point gets lost on some – tennis is an individual sport.

One key is that each and every training session is focused on the individual player and developing their own gamestyle, their personal “brand” of tennis. This may be to develop weapons (eg serve and forehand), to develop reliability and resilience (footwork, endurance and defensive skills), to develop the hunger and desire to compete (via high intensity point based drills with rewards/consequences), to develop mental toughness, to instill in a players psyche that they always are ready and want to play one more ball.

There are many contributing factors that help you reach your tennis goals. Set the bar high, focus on your goals and confide in a positive influence to keep you on track. Train to win. Go on you can do it.