Getting better at tennis is a never ending quest!
From the moment you get hooked on the game, you just want to keep improving and you keep searching for new ways to get better.
We’re here to tell you that you never run out of things you can improve on on the court, and we’ve put together some of our best advice to help you get better at tennis quicker!
If you want to get better at something you’ve got to go out and practice it, simple as that. People don’t get to the top without doing the hard yards and there are no shortcuts.
However, practice is only efficient if you’re doing it well.
A long, half-hearted practice session isn’t going to help you improve that much, but a short burst of high intensity, concentrated practice can have big results.
It’s so hard to make improvements at something when your mind is elsewhere.
Tennis is a difficult sport that pulls together many different skills, and if you’re not focussed on what you are doing then you’re going to find it very difficult to get better.
One of the great things about sport in general is that it can be a brilliant distraction from everything else that is going on in your life.
Whatever your problems off the court, when you’re on the court, you can simply focus on the racket and the ball.
It’s an escape, and it allows you to forget all the other things that are going on.
So, use tennis to escape the other distractions for a minute, and simply focus on getting better.
On the face of it, this phrase seems a bit useless; if you’re learning something, you’re obviously actively doing it, but are we really?
If you go out to practice and you miss four forehands in the net during the warmup, and don’t question why it happened, then are you actively learning?
Every single ball is an opportunity to learn, and you don’t need someone there to point things out to you.
If you miss a forehand in the net, then you evaluate why you missed and make adjustments until you find you’re not missing anymore.
You’re going to get much better at tennis, much quicker, if you can be your own coach and actively evaluate the shots you’re playing.
If you’re just going through the motions and a miss is a miss and nothing more, then you’re not learning.
Break Things Down
You can’t just see Roger Federer on TV and go out on to a court and replicate what he does.
What you can do is break down what he does into small portions and step by step, work on replicating them.
This doesn’t just work when you’re trying to replicate someone else, it works for whatever improvements you’re trying to make.
Getting better at tennis is about taking lots of little steps that add up to big improvements, and you’ve got to break things down into manageable chunks to do this.
If you’re trying to add more power to your serve for example, you might start by focusing on trying to get more knee bend into it, then once you’ve mastered that, you move onto trying to explode up into the ball and so on.
Things are much more manageable when you break them down into smaller chunks.
Get the Most Out of Your Attention Span
Our attention spans aren’t limitless so if you go out and hit balls in the same way for hours on end, then you’re going to see diminishing returns.
Instead, you’ve got to break your time up and give yourself plenty of time to refresh and regroup.
You’ve also got to keep things entertaining by mixing it up because at the end of the day tennis should be fun!
The more you’re enjoying yourself and focussing in, the more you’re going to get from the practice session.
Out of the points on this list, improving your technique has to be one of the most difficult.
That’s because (asides from the fact it’s difficult to know what technique to implement) it’s very difficult to feel what you’re doing with the racket.
Have you ever noticed how you have a picture in your mind of how you play, but when you see yourself on camera it looks very different?
I for one have seen myself play on camera a lot and every time I see myself it looks completely different to what I expect.
So, improving your technique isn’t easy, but it is a vital aspect of getting better at tennis.
Online courses can be a great resource and we would like to think that the ones we have put together with our super coach, Dave Ireland can really help you out.
However, you’re still left with the problem that it’s difficult to feel what you’re doing with the racket.
This means that you’ve got to be really diligent with the steps we’ve listed in the practice section and be a very active learner.
Knowing what you’re supposed to be doing and actually doing them are very different things, and how you implement them will depend on the feedback you can give yourself.
Technology really helps in this area because we have the ability to easily film our strokes, and even in slow motion, but you’ve got to be dedicated and really make sure you’re following the steps well.
Online courses can be a great resource to help you with your technique, but you’ve got to work hard to implement the tips into your game.
Find a Coach
Sometimes you’re just going to need a professional pair of eyes looking over your swing and telling you where you’re going wrong.
There are lots of great coaches out there, so search around the internet and find one that you like.
Even when you’re working with a coach though, your game isn’t going to magically transform without effort.
You’ve got to put the hard yards in and get the most out of every session if you want to improve your technique quickly.
It’s Not Only At Practice Where You Improve
We tend to think of practice as the time where we learn new skills and the match court as the place where we implement them.
However, each match is also an opportunity to get better.
If you’re not implementing the things you’re practicing on the match court, then you’re not going to get better at them as quickly.
It’s easy to get hung up on winning and therefore we go back to the things we know, rather than the things that are new to us, but you’re learning a new technique for a reason – to win more in the future.
Winning lots of games in the future is much more fun than winning one game today, so you need to be brave and implement the things you are learning in practice on the match court.
I always say that tennis is played by a lot of really smart people, but when they step on the court they seem to think in a very different way.
For most things we do in life, we have a plan, but often when we get on the court we just hit the ball without much thought about where it’s going.
If there’s one way you can quickly improve your tennis, it’s by improving the tactical side of your game.
You’re completely in control of this, and once you’ve learned the tactics, you can immediately go out onto the court and put them into practice.
We’ve picked out a few of our favorite tactics to help make a big improvement in your game.
Isolate Your Opponent’s Weakness
This one’s very simple but it can have a big effect – try and match your strength up against your opponent’s weakness. For most people, their strength is going to be their forehand and their weakness the backhand.
So find ways to hit your forehand into their backhand and keep them pinned in on the backhand side.
The more you can hit your strengths and make your opponent play off their weaker side, the more your chances of winning the point are going to go up.
You don’t have to play more difficult shots to do this, you’ve just got to work in ways to safely play your strength to their weakness.
Serve Plus One
We love this tactic and are pretty much always going on about it.
The serve plus one is the perfect way of taking control of the point and making sure you’re swinging the point in your favor.
The serve is such an advantage because you get to make the first move in the point, and you have the opportunity to set it up however you want.
You should be using this opportunity to get the shot you want for your second shot.
See the serve and first shot after the serve as a package where you use the serve to get the shot you want.
For most people, that’s going to be a forehand, so how can you use your serve to get your forehand into play?
If you watch Rafa here, you can see how eager he is to get play on his forehand and that’s because he knows the serve gives him the perfect opportunity to get his big weapon into the point.
So much of the game of tennis is played out in your head.
Countless tennis players have made it to the top simply because of their mental ability, and it’s something that can allow you to beat players with much higher skill levels than yourself.
Again, the techniques used to improve the mental side of your game can be learned away from the court, but they are not always as easy to implement as you might think.
A good mental approach to the game takes lots of practice, and it’s an area that even some of the best players struggle with.
You can find lots of different courses on the mental side of the game, but we thought we’d give you a couple of our favorite takeaways.
You’re Going to Lose a Lot of Points
No matter how good you get, you’re always going to lose lots of points.
Even when you win you lose a lot of points, that’s just the nature of the game. For this reason, you can never be scared of losing a point.
You never want to lose a point, but you should never fear it because it’s going to happen and you’ve got to accept that.
If you become scared of losing points you just become timid and no matter what you do, you’re still going to lose points.
Once you accept the fact that you’re going to lose a lot of points, you can relax and just play your tennis.
Tiny Margins Decide Matches
You can lose 6-0 6-0 and only win 12 less points than your opponent, and you can win 6-4 6-4 and still win 4 less points than your opponent.
The margins are tiny and when you make a small change it can make a massive difference.
I remember playing a match in college and my coach came on after I’d lost the first set 6-0 and said “what’s wrong, normally if you lost a set 6-0 you’d be smashing rackets everywhere,” and I replied, “I feel like I’m playing really well but I’m just missing everything by (showing him with my fingers) this much.”
His reply was simple “well then you just have to change by this much” and he walked off.
The next set I played the best tennis of my life, hitting winners left-right and center and simply pulling off everything I tried whilst my bemused opponent watched on.
The point is, you’re never as far away from achieving what you want to achieve as you think and even small improvements can take you a long way.
This is the part that some people absolutely love and others can’t stand – fitness.
As we’ve been saying, tiny differences make a big impact in tennis and the physical side of the game can be that difference.
If you look at guys like Djokovic and Murray when they first came on to the tour a lot of people questioned their fitness.
Both of them turned themselves into unbelievable athletes though, and it coincided with them reaching the very top of the game.
Improving the physical side of your game is something you can do from home and it will make a difference when you get back to the tennis court.
Tennis combines strength, stamina, coordination, and balance, so pretty much any workouts you do are going to benefit you and help you to get better at tennis.
The main takeaway here is that small improvements can make a big difference and there are lots of ways you can improve your tennis game.
Whether it’s the way you practice, technically, tactically, mentally, or physically, there are lots of things you can do to help you win more matches and become a better player.
How much you improve really depends on your attitude and how hard you are willing to work, but it’s always possible to find new ways to improve your game.
Article by: Will