I talk to a lot of tennis players that tell me they feel like they have stopped improving in tennis. After 3 decades of teaching players and more than 63,000 hours of on-court teaching, I have learned why I believe this happens to so many players.
Five Reasons Your Tennis Improvement has Plateaued.
1) Your overall practice regimen does not include enough match play.
Research shows that American players take more private lessons, participate in more drill classes, and buy more equipment, but the one thing we do less of than any other country is… PLAY matches. This is why so many players struggle when they compete and often feel like they are better in practice and they are in an actual match.
2) Your intensity level at practice is often too low.
I work with a lot of high-performance juniors. I typically see them in our after school clinics. If you track their day, you realize that most of them get up at 6:00 a.m. and then go off to school for a long day of classes and studying and then end up at my tennis center for a class is from 4 to 6:00 p.m. It’s not uncommon that when the kids get to our class they are already exhausted from a long day. But this is a chance for them to understand that life is difficult in that even though they are tired, they have to bring their best ever effort to the court even though it might not be easy. This is one of my favorite life-lessons that tennis teaches players. The players that can do this are that ones that have the most success.
3) You’re more concerned with winning now than developing your game for the future.
We see it all the time. Players say they want to get better in the long run, but in classes and in matches the abort the necessary new skills they are working on for winning at that moment. This can even happen in a drill class (practice) when they don’t want to rotate down one court lower. It’s easy to say that you want your long-term improvement, but it takes a special commitment to be willing to take a step backwards so that you can eventually take two steps forward.
4) You’re not adding or acquiring more USABLE tactics to your game so you can beat a wider range of players.
You don’t have to have every tactic in your arsenal to be a good tennis player. But you have to have more than one. The best players have a favorite way to play, but they also have to 2-3 other ways that they can play. By USABLE I mean something that you can actually deploy and use in a match, not just something that you can do in practice, but are too scared to deploy in competition.
5) When you practice on your own (without a coach) you waste valuable practice time by not having a specific purpose.
Practicing with the coach is very important. But the very best players put in additional practice time without a coach. Those times are critical and I have found that the best players make the best use of those practices when they are away from their coach. Having a specific plan and set of drills that you will do is the key to improving during this time. It is not enough to just go out and hit with your friends. You have to have purpose in your practice.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this post and thanks for reading and sharing it if you think it is helpful.