Tennis professionals and coaches all have their own way of communicating.
However, there are many words of wisdom coming from your instructors that have been repeated so many times, they get taken for granted and are often overlooked in a match situation. These can be your most helpful ideas out on the court when competing.
Here are some of these well known instructions:
Watch the ball!
So basic, yet not following this is the number one cause of unforced errors at all levels-even the pros.
Again, obvious, but the tendency is to watch what just happened, evaluate how good your shot just was, and oops, too late on the next ball. Get both hands on the racquet and expect the ball to come back. This is the second most common cause of an unforced error at all levels.
Move your feet!
You have to get to the ball, yet we are always trying to reach and stretch or jump to get our racquet on the ball instead of using our footwork to get in a good position so we can use our regular swing.
Follow through on your groundstrokes!
Your swings will tend to get quick and short in a match so a constant reminder to follow through will really help keep your strokes intact.
Get your first serve in!
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of a match-your opponent has no idea how you are going to hit your first serve but you have to get your second serve in and they are likely to be much more aggressive returning serve, putting you on the defense over and over, and making you play catch up in the point.
Get the first few balls in play!
Again, seems simple but if you get three or four balls in play more often than your opponent, the odds of you winning the match are very high.
Keep your eye on the ball!
This is similar to the first piece of advice but goes a bit further. Watch the ball all the way from your opponent's racquet until it hits your strings and keep repeating this throughout the point. Hitting the ball solid more consistently than your opponent can be the whole difference in the match.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com throughout the Hamptons, NY. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Tucson, AZ) for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at email@example.com.