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July 1999 Article

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Are you like most players?

John Mills Photo
John Mills, USPTA

Most players only practice in the 10-minute warm-up right before the match begins. Thus, whatever their weaknesses are they are not going to get any better. Typically, opponents will hit ground strokes for a majority of the warm-up time, then they will force themselves to hit a few volleys and very few if any overheads. With this type of practice you can see why some players never improve their mid-court and volley game.

What should you do to warm-up? During the 10-minute warm-up before your match try some of these:

  • Hit the ball back to your opponent, remember the match has not started yet and you only have 2 or 3 balls. Do not spend all your time chasing them.

  • Spend more time concentrating on watching the ball, finding your point of contact on each shot and breathing with each shot.

  • Hit a few of all your shots, do not ignore your net game.

  • Do not assume your opponent will play the same way in the match as they do in the warm-up.

  • Do not assume you will play poorly if you receive a terrible warm-up and vice versa.

  • Remember that the warm-up is to loosen you up for the match, not for practicing your shots.

  • If you cannot feed the ball correctly, it is your job to practice that until you can. Players sometimes are weak at feeding their opponent a lob so they can hit a practice overhead.

  • Do not hit angle shots in the warm-up, it just wastes your warm-up time.

  • Do your practicing before the match, not in the 10-minute warm-up.

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    This column is copyrighted by John Mills, all rights reserved.

    John Mills currently teaches tennis at the University of Houston, Clear Lake campus. John Mills' experience includes four years as head pro at the Windemere Racquet & Swim Club, where he was responsible for organization of all tennis activities at the club. John also played college tennis at the University of Houston and has spent 20 years teaching tennis at the Memorial Park Tennis Center, the Pasadena Racquet Club, and as the head pro at the Bay Area Racquet Club.


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