In just a few months’ time Wimbledon’s centre court will once again be packed with spectators and Henman Hill will be overflowing. If you haven’t play
In just a few months’ time Wimbledon’s centre court will once again be packed with spectators and Henman Hill will be overflowing. If you haven’t played much tennis over the winter, you will need to spend some time getting your game back.
A few on-court sessions in the local park may not be sufficient – at the very least you should think about joining a tennis club or a health club with a decent tennis membership. Better still, take a look at tennis holidays – spend a few days working on your game with the help and guidance of a professional coach, with luxury hotel accommodation thrown in. What better way to get your game back?
To help you get into the zone, here are our 10 top tips to improve your tennis game.
Focus on your serve
The serve is one of the most important parts of the game. A good serve lets you take command of a game, forcing your opponent to play bad shots and become defensive. Spend time practising your first and second serve. Ask the coach for his advice after he’s watched you for a while. He’ll eliminate your bad habits and help you correct any problems.
Play shots that work
Amateurs like to play all sorts of shots during a game, instead of the ones they know work best. During a match, top players have only a few patterns of play and they stick to these, hitting their strongest shots most of the time. Try to do the same. Know your best shots and stick to them.
Avoid too many risky shots
It’s good to play with aggression, but it’s quite another to play recklessly. Don’t play too many high risk shots. Pick one or two areas of the court where you know you can play shots without incurring too much risk. Play the percentage game, not the risky one.
Identify an opponent’s weakness
During your warm-up before a match, hit some forehands and backhands to your opponent and see which he’s best at returning. If he has a weakness on one hand, then during the match play to your opponent’s weakness and put him under pressure.
Make a video
Get a friend to shoot a video of you playing a game. When you look back at the clip, you’ll be surprised at how many aspects of your game need improvement. Professionals use video analysis to help them. Video lets you see where you’re going wrong – you may be hitting too deep or too short, or your serve action may need some fine-tuning.
Position yourself to a win
Most young tennis players move around the court a lot, but this is not always the best way to play. You should hang back, play most of your rallies from just behind the baseline. By running to the ball, it’s easy to misjudge the height and play a weak shot. Of course, there will be times when you have move forward to pick up a drop shot, but to be more in control, play your game from the baseline.
One-handed shot or two?
Although there’s been plenty of research into playing shots with one or two hands, there’s no definitive answer on which is best. Taking a two-hands approach suits some players but not others. Those with less strength tend to use two hands, but it’s all down to whatever feels right. You choose.
Improve your game in the gym
To improve your game, you need to spend some time in the gym, targeting your back, legs, abs and shoulders. Roger Federer doesn’t have a great deal of upper body strength but his legs are incredibly powerful. His gym routine includes leg presses, lat pull-downs and lower body resistance band exercises. If your game is lacking strength, then use cables and pulleys to imitate the movements of your shots and increase your power. Also, combine quick sprints on the treadmill with some roadwork to improve your speed and stamina.
Stretch to prevent injuries
Stretching to keep your muscles loose and flexible is key if you want to outstay your opponents in long rallies. Foam rollers are what top players like Djokovic use after a game. 10-15 minutes of use, combined with some stretching exercises helps to get rid of lactic acid in the muscles and keeps you injury free.
Develop a suitable training schedule
The more often you train and repeat tennis strokes, the more your game will improve. Golfers practise hitting golf balls for hours and hours to perfect their swing. This repetition has the effect of conditioning the brain so that you hit the ball in the same way every time. Tennis is similar, and you should be on court practising 4 or 5 times a week for at least 2 hours per session. The more you train and play, the more your game will improve and the better player you’ll become.