If you are a beginner to the world of tennis, it is very easy to become lost trying to understand how to practice it. A simple solution to improving your tennis skills might be to simply hit the ball back and forth with a partner, but there are many other factors and training techniques that you can implement in order to improve your overall skill set and improve your physical fitness.
There are hundreds of things you can do to improve your game, but before you get to most of them, there are a few basics you’ll need to start with. I’ll outline them here, and if you even “sort of” master these 4 disciplines, you’ll be well on your way to moving up the ladder past your competition – depending on how serious you are about applying these disciplines, of course! They are basic, but don’t let that fact fool you into believing they’re less important. The opposite is actually true!
With that said, let’s jump right in!
1. Begin With a Warm Up…
Before you begin your tennis sessions, it is very important that you warm up and learn to implement a consistent warm up routine that works best for you. It is recommended to do dynamic stretching before you play and to try static stretching after you play. A dynamic stretch is something like walking Frankenstein hamstring kicks where you are swinging your muscles to the end range of their motion to stretch them. A static stretch is where you do something like a toe touch and hold it in position for whatever fixed amount of time. In addition to stretching out your legs make sure to lean back to stretch the rib meat and try to stretch your triceps and biceps by grabbing your opposite elbow from behind and pulling it down.
Here is an example of a sample warm-up (this is just a markup version, try to develop your own with movements better suited to your needs)
- 3 Minutes Jump Rope, alternate two leg jumps – one leg jumps
- (Find a line on the court) Zig Zag jumps over the line side to side 15 jumps, front to back 15 jumps
- Starting from the baseline to the net, walk and perform these dynamic stretches
- Pull your leg into your chest and do a lunge stretch
- Turn side ways and do the same
- Frankenstein hamstring kicks
- Floor sweeps, hamstring stretch
- Two hops, sit down into your hips like a butterfly stretch
- Jog to the net and back
- Sprint three hard steps and coast to the net and back
This sample warm-up should get your body feeling loose and ready to play tennis! Try to replace the dynamic stretches with the ones targeting muscles that are particularly sore for you.
Once you have established a warmup routine that gets your body ready to move around and hit the ball, you should take precautionary measures to avoid tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is one of the most annoying problems tennis players have to deal with, the best way to combat this is to wear a compression sleeve on your arm while playing and to hit the ball with proper form, not too hard in perspective with the experience and skills you possess. Once you begin your tennis matches it is also very important to drink enough water during the game, as well as having a light snack in between games. Tennis can be very exhausting and quickly drain your electrolytes, causing you to cramp up!
2. Choose the Right Equipment
In order to play well you will need to make sure that you have the right racquet. Choosing a tennis racquet can be very expensive, and there are so many options to choose from that it makes it even more difficult to get advice at the store that will be specific to your needs. When choosing a tennis racket you should way the string gauge, durability, and playability. Gauge 15 is the most popular brand of tennis racket, but Gauge 16 will give you a much better level of durability and power. Once you have picked out the right racket for you in measure of design and performance, you will need a good pair of tennis shoes.
Tennis shoes are built to be sturdy and have thick and soft heels to increase cushion to lessen the impact on your ankle and knees the game of tennis challenges you with. If you are planning on playing on different court styles such as concrete vs. clay courts, you will need to generalize your shoe search as most models are specifically designed for one or the other. Finally, you should look into some comfortable shorts to play in, maybe a pair of basketball or running shorts will do fine. You should also get a compression tank top, this will give you the full range of motion in your lats and arm swings to provide maximum reach and power with your hits and serves. Once you have the gear, it is time to level up your game!
3. Out Condition Your Opponents
To train your athleticism to become a better tennis player you will need great conditioning. A great way to improve your conditioning for tennis is to grab a jump rope and jump in place for about 5 sets of 500 jumps. Once you get really good at jump roping you will find yourself pouncing on your toes and calves with ease, in turn causing you to be able to quickly plant your feet and change direction to get to the ball in time. When you begin playing tennis, your first instinct might be to try to wail on the ball as hard as you can, every possible chance you get. But when you first serving, try to go for placement rather than speed. If you want to increase the power in your shot, try improving your lat muscles with pullups and try to really plant your leg into the ground as you hit the ball.
Little tips like tightening your core right as you hit the ball will also cause a noticeable change in hitting power. As you start to hit the gym frequently you will likely be influenced by the workouts of other people working out in there. Remember that you are training for your tennis specific purposes, look at the build of rafael nadal or any other professional tennis player, do they look like bodybuilders? The answer is heck no, because this is not the type of athleticism you should be training for if you want to be a great tennis player. You need to be lightweight and have maximum control over your body, strengthen your lat muscles with pull downs, rows, and pullups, but do not get too carried away into the weightlifting culture, because great conditioning will beat incredible muscle mass in the game of tennis every time, (assuming both players have the same skillset somehow).
4. Perfect and Practice Your Skill & Hand-Eye Drills
There are many drills that tennis players use to improve their skills and advance from beginners to skilled players. The frying pan is a very popular entry drill that requires the player to pop the ball up in the air with the racket, the player then should try the opposite with the dribbling drill. Tennis is centered around having a great combination of athleticism, conditioning, strategy, and hand-eye coordination. In order to build the foundation for a great tennis game, you will need to build up some great hand-eye coordination. Some ways to improve your hand-eye coordination can be done using the Pro Impact Tennis Trainer Rebound ball, or simply practicing tennis movements over and over again until you cement a massive database of muscle memory in your brain.
Some ways to improve hand-eye coordination with tennis skills are to find a wall that you can hit the ball back and forth between. Finding a good place will be critical to improving your hand-eye coordination. Try hitting the ball forehand back and forth, and backhand as well. Once you get really good at this you can try all sorts of variations such as side to side with no bounces, one bounces, try different distances from the wall, and whatever else you can think of. One of the most impressive things a tennis player can possess is an amazing serve in terms of speed and placement. In order to improve your serve, practice tossing the ball up and hitting it against a wall, or simply repping it out on the court. Practicing tennis can be very frustrating because if you overdo it and hit something like a thousand shots in a single day, you will likely become immensely fatigued and develop tennis elbow. The number one most important thing that will help you accelerate your tennis growth is to find a simple practice routine with a partner, incorporate stretching, proper nutrition, and athletic training, and then consistently practice without doing too little or too much every day. Good Luck with your training!