By Darren Woodford – Tennis Pro and Coach
Tennis is a complex sport with many moving pieces.
However, to improve your tennis, we follow the same process that we would use to acquire any skill. In this article, we will cover the skill acquisition cycle as it pertains to tennis.
The first step in the skill acquisition cycle is to find a good coach. If you want to learn anything it is best to go to an expert. You can watch all of the instructional videos that you want; but to improve rapidly, you will need real-time feedback. The proper mentor can rapidly accelerate your progress as a player. So if you want to improve fast, invest in some lessons.
The second step in the skill acquisition cycle is to practice deliberately, also known as drilling. Typically, a coach will use a private lesson to identify issues in your game and to work on fixes for those areas requiring improvement. However, to see real progress in your game, you will need to practice and refine the skills covered in your lesson.
Typically, drilling progressions start with solo practice, such as shadow swings or simply dropping and hitting the ball. From there, you will want to hit with a collaborative partner. This portion of drilling can take the form of rallying from various positions on the court. The final stage of drilling involves point play scenarios. Your coach will probably have some drill classes designed for this purpose. The advantage of a drill class instead of merely playing with a friend is that you will be able to execute a greater number of quality repetitions against a variety of opponents. Once you feel confident in a point play drill, it is time to progress to the third stage needed to improve your tennis quickly.
The third step in the skill acquisition cycle is to play matches. Matches serve as both a test and a practice opportunity. During your matches, you will want to focus on executing specific skills and strategies instead of simply trying to win. Interestingly, you will find that if you focus on executing your newly-improved skills, winning will occur as a natural byproduct. During your match play, you will observe which skills withstand pressure and which skills need more improvement. At that point, you will repeat the cycle for the skills that performed in an unsatisfactory manner.
Ultimately, to improve your tennis quickly is not about the next hot tip.
It is simply the process of learning skills from an expert, practicing those skills with feedback from an expert, and performing those skills under the pressure of competition. The process does not sound fancy but it is the fastest way to improve any skill, especially tennis. So take some lessons, do some drill classes, and have fun improving your tennis!