1.) When behind the baseline, do NOT miss in the net, miss long.
2.) When inside the baseline, do NOT miss long, miss wide or in the net.
3.) Make all 2nd serve returns.
4.) No double faults.
5.) Make your first serve on the first point of your service game.
6.) Hit only inside out forehands, NOT inside in.
7.) If the ball is dropping = top spin; if the ball is rising = drive with spin. High ball = hit inside, low ball = hit outside; slide = vice versa.
8.) Have the goal of making 10 shots each point and count.
9.) Build cross court and play path on approach shots and passing shots.
10.) Consistency > accuracy > spin > power.
Culture = Mentality. What is our mentality? Everything you do matters!
What to do if you are losing badly? 1.) Slow it down. 2.) Mix it up until you regain some momentum and then go back to what you do best. 3.) Focus on the things outside of the score that you can control. 4.) Find the positives (you are playing a great player and getting better; a great comeback is not possible unless you face a big deficit). 5.) Keep grinding — you never know what can happen and make your opponent finish.
Benefits of practicing with weaker players…
(1) Work on offensive skills. You will be in control of most of the points and can work on: changing direction of the ball, taking the ball earlier, coming to the net, changing the spin of the ball.
(2) Opportunity to demonstrate leadership. As you become a better leader, you become a better tennis player.
Benefits of practicing with stronger players…
(1) Work on defensive skills. You will be forced to play defense most of the time and have the opportunity to work on countering and defending.
(2) Opportunity to see a higher quality ball for you to try to emulate.
*Any practice situation can be beneficial with hard work, positive attitude, and stipulations. Who does Novak practice with?*
Benefits of drilling…
(1) Lots of repetitions in a small amount of time.
(2) Tests your ability to have sustained focused. Drilling at times can be boring and repetitive, so it tests your ability to stay focused for a period time while doing the same task over and over.
(3) Tests your ability to duplicate the same quality shots over and over. Which is similar to matches. With a match — you want to find a winning formula (sequence of shots) and duplicate that pattern over and over. This is very similar to drilling.
How to work on increasing power in a practice situation…
(1) Start with a consistent ball that you will not miss.
(2) Slowly start to increase power.
(3) Increase power until an error occurs.
(4) Do not try to hit the next ball just as hard, restart the process. Slowly over your time the power of your shots will increase.
• Player Development Plan – strengths, limitations, tournament & practice schedule, rankings & goals
• Practice log (what you did/what you learned at practice)
• Tournament log (who you played, score, analysis of the match, what you did well, what you want to work on)
• Mental training
• Fitness training
Monthly Mental Training
• Read the blog posts – print them off or ideally hand write them and put them in your tennis notebook
• Tournament log
Weekly Mental Training
• Write down your schedule
• Write down your goals for the week (3)
Daily Mental Training
• Write down what you did at practice
• Write down anything you learned or something that you found beneficial
• Write down how you are feeling physically, mentally, or emotionally and take necessary steps to improve condition if not feeling 100%
How to Analyze Matches
• Start with the facts – who won and score
• What you did well
• What you want to improve on
• What your opponent did well
• What your opponent did not do very well
• Key moment(s) of the match
1.) Benefit of approaching cross court — it is a high percentage shot over the low part of the net to the deep part of the court. Negative about approaching cross court is that it is tough to cover the passing shot. You need to move very quickly to cover the down the line pass and in the process of doing so — might leave the cross court angle open.
2.) Benefit of approaching down the line line — it is easy to cover the passing shot. Negative about approaching down the line is that it is a low percentage shot. It is over the high part of the net, to the short part of the court, and it is a change of direction shot. Meaning two aggressive things are being done at once — moving forward and changing direction which makes it a very challenging shot.
3.) If approaching down the line — do NOT get beat down the line. Follow your approach shot. Cover the down the line pass first. If your opponent passes cross court — you will have time react. That is the longer pass and the ball passes in front of you.
4.) If you have no pass — get the ball to your opponent’s backhand volley. Most players typically volley much better on their forehand side compared to their backhand side.
5.) If you pass down the line — you better hit a winning shot. Your opponent will be able to volley short cross court if they get to the pass and the point is over.
6.) A cross court pass (since it is a longer pass) at least gives you a chance to run the volley down.
7.) If your opponent hits a hard approach shot — play path on the passing shot. Easiest thing to do with a hard shot is send it back to the direction it came from.
8.) Do not move forward and lob. The court is shrinking Very tough to time.
9.) Do not put too much pressure on yourself to win the point with the approach shot — trust your volleys.
10.) Know the rules but be flexible based on each particular match. Have a simple plan.
1.) Prepare with the tournament in mind.
– Manage your practice schedule months out.
– Think about the event frequently for motivation.
2.) Set a realistic goal that is not revenge motivated.
– Set a challenging but not discouraging goal.
– Revenge motivated goal is one that revolves around playing a player who has beat you in the past. The problem with goals like that are there is no guarantee you will play that player. Also, it takes the focus off the event and simply on playing one player meaning you might not be appropriately focused for all your matches.
3.) Prepare the week of and arrive early for event.
– Practice the week before but do not cram.
– Have school in a good place so you are not stressed out.
– Eat, sleep, and hydrate appropriately.
– Do not be rushed and stressed arriving to the event.
4.) Just because it is a BIG event, do not over-respect your opponent. Everyone is in the tournament for a reason and anyone can beat anyone.
5.) Just because you travel far, do not put too much pressure on yourself. Try to approach the tournament mentally just like all your other events. Think about a tournament or situation where you performed really well. Have that mentality.
6.) If tournaments stress you out in general and you find you perform better practice — have a practice mentality. Approach the event with the mentality that you do for drills or lessons.
7.) Make the event comfortable.
– Have a routine.
– Be particular about your meals, hydration, and snacks.
– Warm up the same way you typically do.
8.) Be careful with the section. There is sometimes a belief that if you play someone from California or Florida or Georgia — that they must be really, really good. The reality is that there are good and beatable players from all cities, states, and sections.
9.) Take in the scene but do not be the scene. Watch other players and try to learn something, however, do not be too social or unfocused.
10.) Win or lose — make the experience beneficial. Take tournament notes. Learn something. Improve from the experience.
Stop. Breathe. Think. Relax. Then Speak.
What not to do…
Do not call the person a cheater. Everyone who has played tennis has likely made a bad call at some point. Also, there is a chance that you are mistaken as you are half a court away. Even if you are playing someone who has (in your opinion) repeatedly made calls against you/others that you do not agree with — do not call them a cheater. We do not speak negatively about or to our opponents. We also do not go around the facility (or use social media or any other form of communication) to tell everyone that you got cheated and/or your opponent was/is a cheater. We would not want someone saying those things about us and like I said earlier…because of human imperfection we have all likely made a bad call or have been confused on the score.
Stop. Breathe. Think. Relax. Then Speak.
What to do…
One bad call, give your opponent the benefit of the doubt. Second bad call, calmly explain that you are going to get a line judge. Be careful with asking…”are you sure?”. You are not supposed to make a call in tennis if you are not sure, so calling the ball out by default means that you are sure. Also, very rarely does anyone reverse their call because someone asked are you sure. You could spend that energy and time more resourcefully. It is similar with “how far out was that?”. It doesn’t matter if it was out by a little or out by a lot — the call was out. Often times what happens is your opponent will answer with an exaggerated distance which is extremely frustrating or tell you that you missed by the smallest margin which can be equally frustrating and compound the problem. Either way — time and energy can be better spent.
Stop. Breathe. Think. Relax. Then Speak.
The main point is do not lash out in anger at your opponent which can negatively affect you for the upcoming points. Simply remain calm and go get an official. It is YOUR job to get an official. Officials are not perfect themselves but it is the best way to try to ensure as fair of a match as possible.
1.) When gathering information about an upcoming opponent — make sure the information is reliable. For example, a friend might have played your opponent months ago. Your friend says: “Their backhand is terrible. Hit every shot there.” Even if months ago your opponent’s backhand was not very good, they have likely been working on that shot for months now. So when using information that you hear from others — consider the source and the amount of time involved regarding the information. Your parents and coaches are frequently the best source for information.
2.) Be careful with the warm up. Frequently people use the warm up to determine their starting strategy for their opponent. The problem is that the warm up is a very small sample size. In only 5 minutes, you are hitting a very limited number of shots. Anyone can hit good or bad shots for a brief period of time. Also, some people do a good job of hiding their strengths or weaknesses in the warm up. It is far better to let the match develop to determine their true strengths and weaknesses or watch a previous match that your opponent is playing.
3.) Start simple — when you are watching your opponent play…try to find a strategy. Do they have a better forehand or backhand? Are they better on the move or standing still? Do they come to the net a lot and which side should you pass them on? Even if you are able to watch your opponent before the match, start with YOUR best stuff. Your primary strategies and tactics. You are the best version of yourself, when you do what you do best.
4.) Remember, each match is different. Meaning if it appears (from a previous match) that your opponent has a bad backhand…they could have just been having a bad day that particular day. Start the match with what you do well and go from there. Each match is different and each day is different.
5.) Study their return technique and look for technical flaws with all shots. Does your opponent back up when they return — then you should use more spin and wide serves. Does your opponent move forward when they return — then you should serve more body. Find technical flaws. Bad technique breaks down in pressure situations. On big points, it is smart to hammer away at technical flaws.
How to analyze your tournament matches…
1.) Start with the facts. What actually happened. Who won. Score. Flow of the match…for example…was up 4-1, opponent brought it back to 4-4, and won 6-4.
2.) Recognize key moments. For example…long deuce games, momentum swings, comebacks in a particular game or set, key mistakes, hustle points…
3.) Understand what you did well and what your opponent’s strengths were
4.) Understand what you did not do well and what your opponent did not like
5.) Learn a couple of things you want to work on based on the match
If breaking down your matches is still a challenge…give yourself grades based on the following categories:
– Forehands and backhands
– Approach shots, volleys, & OHs
– Serves and returns
– Footwork, movement, & conditioning level
– Ability to play offense and defense
– Slice, touch, angles, & lobs
– Fight, mental, & emotional toughness
– Situational tennis…for example…5-5 deuce, biggest moment of the match, I hit two aces or back to back double faults which won or lost the game and led to winning or losing the set/match.
*Please note: often times tennis players make this mistake. It was 5-5 deuce and I double faulted so that means my serve is the problem and I need to work on my serve. Well, did you double fault a lot throughout the match or just a little bit? Because if you are consistently double faulting throughout the match, then obviously some serving practice is in order (for the record…everyone can always improve their serve). However, if you are simply double faulting at key moments, that is more of a mental & emotional toughness issue. Finding a way to calm your nerves to execute in the biggest moments of the match.*
RANKINGS: USTA, UTR, ITF, WTA/ATP…
A.) These are tools. Use them to your advantage. Meaning…use them to track your progress if that motivates you. However, if tracking rankings and points stress you out…then do not worry about them. Same goes for your opponent. If knowing rankings and the UTR of your opponent motivates you and takes pressure off you then study up. If knowing this information about your opponent stresses you out or adds pressure then limit your exposure to this information.
B.) College coaches use rankings & UTR…but they also look at grades, attitude, level of professionalism, recommendations, and a whole other bunch of aspects. Value rankings. It can help you be recruited and go where you want to go. But also value all the other important aspects that go into being a student athlete.
C.) Remember…rankings are not perfect. Just because you are ranked higher than someone does not mean you will beat them. We need to respect everyone. Just because someone is ranked higher than you does not mean you are going down. Do not let a ranking determine a match before it is played. Matches are won and lost on the court by players and are not determined by a computer.
D.) Do not stress out if your ranking goes slightly down. Rankings change all the time. Look at a large sample size. There will be ups and down for every athlete over the course of their career.
Injuries in tennis most often occur from 1.) overuse and 2.) technique. Playing too much, especially combined with technical issues, can lead to pain and eventually an injury. String and racquet choices can lead to injuries sometimes but usually poor string and racquet selections lead to bad technique which is the real reason for the injury. For example, if you use a racquet or string that is not powerful enough or too stiff, you will try to over hit and therefore your technique will break down which can lead to an injury. Therefore, switching to a more powerful racquet or string can help sometimes with pain — but usually the help comes from improved technique and not needing to generate as much power on your own.
The first question with any injury is — will continuing to play tennis going to make my injury worse? If that is the case, then rest or some form of medical treatment is necessary. If the answer is no and continuing to play will not make the injury last longer, then try to find ways to endure the pain and continuing playing or training. More often than not, a few days of rest will do the trick and is far better than pushing a potential injury and making it worse which might require an extended absence. If you do rest and find little or no relief then you will need to explore some form of medical treatment.
It is super important to remember to do all that you can to help prevent and endure through injuries. For example, you should start any form of a practice session with a proper dynamic warm up. You should finish any session or day with a proper stretch. Usually at the first sign of pain, you should make sure to spend extra time stretching, icing, and strengthening the area in pain. Also, proper hydration, nutrition, and sleep will help with preventing and enduring injuries.
Speaking of REST…how much should you rest in general? 1-2 days/week depending on your goals. After a tournament you should take a day off IF you have a tournament the very next weekend. If you do not have a tournament the very next weekend, you should come to practice as soon as possible and work on playing fatigued/multiple weeks in a row. Then you can rest Saturday and Sunday the following weekend. If you are not in a good place with school or sleep, you need to take sometime to get caught up in those aspects. You cannot practice properly overly stressed about school or sleep deprived. Lastly, do NOT rest if you are sore! Sometimes soreness is confused with injury. When you are sore the best thing you can do is work out the soreness through exercise.
FALL WEEKLY THEMES
Building Cross Court
Attacking Down the Line
Attacking the Net
Continental Grip Skills
Volley & OH Development
Quick Pressure Plays
1.) Go to the tournament prepared. Preparation involves 3 aspects: on court training, proper rest (not taking days off of tennis but proper sleep), and having your equipment ready.
2.) Go to the team warm up in the morning.
3.) Communicate with coaches prior to going on the court, if you split, and right after you finish. If there is not a coach at your site, call or text them.
4.) Think ahead when you will need snacks/meals and plan accordingly.
5.) You plan out your day. Take ownership. Be very particular, yet extremely flexible.
6.) Get plenty of rest when at the tournament. Do not be draining yourself by being too social or on your phone too much. Stay in the shade and have your water jug with you when you are off the court. Get enough sleep each night.
7.) Know when, where, and who you play
8.) Finish your day with a stretch and make sure you re-stock what you need for the next day