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4 Steps to Prepare For Your Best Tennis Season Yet

03/11/2015, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

Acceptable: “I can’t mow the lawn honey, watching Wimbledon!”

The problem with sports is that people fail to recognize why they’re bad at them. 

“I played bad because I didn’t drain any 3’s today.”

“My passing was terrible and we lost.”

“I couldn’t hit a drop shot the entire match. I suck.”

I’m not here to argue with you. Maybe you did suck today. Want to know how to not suck so bad next time?

Put the work in now. 

Sydney Crosby is the best hockey player on the planet, but it’s not because he’s just naturally better than everyone else. I mean, he is, but if he didn’t dedicate himself to working on habits in the days, weeks, months and years leading up to the pressure-packed situations in which he finds himself, then he probably would’ve been traded to the Edmonton Oilers by now. 

Check out Sydney Crosby wearing a GoPro in practice.

No one wants to see that happen. Especially Sidney Crosby.

Wait, right, this is about tennis. 

How are you preparing for the upcoming outdoor tennis season? The undeniable truth about tennis is that matches are won and lost long before the first ball is served. 

Here’s 4 ways to get ahead of the game this spring. 

1. Get in Shape Right Now 

Don’t wait until the day before your first match to start trimming that winter padding you’ve somehow accumulated. New Years’ resolutions have come and gone, so dedicate yourself to being in stable, maintainable tip-top shape as the season approaches. 

4 Elements to Key In On

  1. Cardio: ride the bike
  2. Stamina: go for one run every week longer than a half hour
  3. Strength: hit the gym!
  4. Flexibility: don’t neglect your a stretching routine

2. Drills, Drills, Drills

Hit lots of tennis balls before it actually counts. In the Sydney Crosby video linked to above, The Kid talks about building habits so he doesn’t have to think once he’s in a game. The same rules apply to tennis. The last thing you want to be doing in an important match is thinking about shot selection or technique. Working on specific shots ahead of time will free your mind up to deconstruct and destroy your opponent once the ball is served for real.

3 Areas to Work On

  1. footwork
  2. serves
  3. returns

3. Exhibition Match Play

Depending on how you define success this season, playing in exhibition matches might be your entire spring tennis season. If you’re gearing up for tournaments then organizing a couple “friendlies” will be a good way to gauge your progress. Try to find different styles of opponents at various levels of skill. Just keep in mind that you need to have your fitness and habits in working order before you start competing. 

3 Elements to Focus On

  1. what are your strengths?
  2. what are your weaknesses?
  3. what does match play tell you about both?

4. Study the Game

“I can’t mow the lawn honey, watching Wimbledon!”

If your significant other takes issue to you issuing this statement then send them my way. You need to get ready for the season and one of the best ways to do that is to study how the greats are playing the game. What make Milos Raonic successful? What techniques is Genie Bouchard adopting to climb the ATA rankings? Remember the saying, dress for the job you want, not the job you have? Well, the same could be said of style. Emulate a player you admire and adopt the techniques you think are suitable. 

2 Keys to Watching the Pros

  1. drink tequila instead of beer (less carbs - you’re in training, right?)
  2. pay attention to how they prepare for a match

So, are you ready for the summer?


photo credit: Ana Ivanovic via photopin (license)

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