| By Xavier Luna

When you have a real passion for a particular sport or game, you’ll find a variety of unconventional ways to practice and improve. Take tennis, for example. It can be played with nothing more than a racquet, a tennis ball and a wall. The wall acts as the unforgiving competitor. Players work to hone their footwork, forehand and backhand strokes, while the unmoving opponent returns their serves and strikes. To zero in on accuracy, the tennis lover can easily paint or draw a target on the wall. Just playing against the wall for a few hours each week can quickly lead to noticeable improvement.

Some free education
It doesn't cost a dime to practice against a wall and learn the lessons it offers. In fact, it's how many of the tennis greats sharpened their skills. Unquestionably, proper coaching is essential in helping tennis players mature and advance, but not all lessons take place on the court.

When you play against the wall, you take what you’ve learned from your coaches and apply it on your own. You're arguably playing against the best tennis player in the world because the wall is undefeated. You can never beat the wall—nobody can! All you can do is practice, and then practice some more.

To practice effectively, you need a ball paced to your playing abilities. If you are a beginner, you will find that a yellow tennis ball moves too fast and bounces too high to allow you to focus on technique. I recommend starting with a rally progression game in order to move from foam to green.

Preparation to be your best
With practice, you can improve your concentration, desire, determination and discipline. Using the wall helps to build muscle memory and improve the speed at which you play. And the practice you put in with the wall will show as you step on to the court to compete against an actual player.

The other essential tool for tennis success is "The Three Ds,” a trio of crucial attributes for any rising tennis player.

►Desire: The fuel to become the best player you can be.
►Determination: The degree of effort that you're willing to put in to accomplish this goal.
►Discipline: Having the mental concentration and will to stay on track toward your tennis goals.

So get started. Use the wall … go to the wall … hit the wall, and beat your own best expectations.