Specific areas for complete player’s development

Tennis, as any other sport, requires many hours spent on the tennis court to develop high-level skills. Practice is a daily routine for serious tennis athletes and competition is only a test of the abilities that we have worked on during the training sessions. Experts confirm that 10,000 hours or 10 years of quality practice are needed to develop mastery in any profession. Yes, QUALITY is a key word in this rule that many players and coaches forget to notice. Proper structure of the training session and drills incorporated into the workout are factors that differ many good training sessions from “looking good” training sessions. What should we include in the practice? What do we have to emphasize to help our players improve skills to solve on-court problems? Below you will find all the answers to conduct a quality lesson and develop complete tennis players.


            Tennis coaches, who take the job seriously, know the overall goals of each tennis practice. Most of the lessons are divided into warm up, skill development, game development and cool down. Warm up time is mostly used to get the feeling of all strokes and direct the focus on the practice. Skill development is a period of time when players work on specific strokes and main emphasis is often put on technique. Learning to make proper tactical decisions and playing different situational points are factors often included in the game development part of the practice. Cool down is a wrap up of the lesson when players and coach talk about the session and stretch to recover.


This general structure is a good starting point to guarantee constant improvements but coaches have to pay attention also to other important factors like type of drills, trained situations or method of feedback. Understanding the game is really important to effectively address players’ needs and to construct the player-centered lesson. Many coaches spend too much time on aspects that are not often used during the competition so we can say that players are well prepared for the situations that rarely happen during the tournament. This approach maybe looks good from outside the court but effectiveness while being under pressure is not as positive. Knowing why we are using particular drills and what are the benefits of this action for the player is the mindset that professional coaches carry all the time on the tennis court. To improve your game, start from the practice because this is the place where you build your game and spend most of the time on. Below you can find easy solutions for the problem of not improving your performance.


Running to the drop shot

Modern game puts a lot of emphasis on baseline game so other aspects of tennis are often neglected during every day sessions. Many coaches focus mostly on forehand, backhand and serve because of “the way tennis is played”. This false mindset leads to developing decent players with baseline skills but lacking abilities to use effectively a secondary strategy. European players like to play a lot of drop shots because they have learned to play tennis on a clay court and this surface favors this kind of shots. Learning how to respond to drop shot is a complex process that requires many different skills to perform this action correctly. Player has to run from the baseline and hit controlled shot so speed, deceleration, sliding, racket’s control and endurance are skills responsible for the final result of this situation. Players should work on countering the drop shot from time to time because rival can play drop shot at 6/6 in the final set and we have to be confident to answer it successfully.


Playing outside the sidelines

Isn’t it funny? While watching tennis matches, we can often observe shots that are played from outside the sideline but the reality of a tennis practice is focused solely on different aspects. Most of the shots are trained within boundaries of the tennis court so players know how to answer balls when they don’t have to run away from the lines. It is really important to incorporate drills that put players into difficult court positions and see how they can respond to this challenge. Less experienced players tend to take a big risk and rip the ball down the line with small percentage of success. On the other hand, players who work on shots executed from outside the sideline discover possibilities to play deep, high cross-court shot, angle cross-court or all-or-nothing down the line. Applying proper tactical thinking during the session’s time will help players to make automatic decisions while being under pressure during the tournament.


Run and hit at the same time

Tennis is a really dynamic sport so drills have to take this specification into consideration. Playing most of the shots with stable position is not the situation that we are going to face during the match so practice shots have to reflect strokes used during the tournament. Working on situations when players don’t have a time to prepare and stop to execute forehand or backhand is a necessity to develop complete and successful tennis players. Dynamic balance is a must in modern tennis where players hit harder and more precisely than ever before. Coach should spend considerable amount of time with players on shots that are executed while running to see how they respond with positioning to the ball and control over the shot while running at full speed.


Many coaches and players understand the game of tennis but they don’t use this knowledge to structure their practices. The same drills are used over and over again with expectations to improve own performance. With this kind of approach, players will stay on the same level forever so proper adjustments to the practice are needed to achieve positive results. Focus on hidden aspects that are often forgotten during the training session and get an edge over your opponents while working on skills that are used in every match.