The new year is traditionally a time for reflection. A time to step back and take a look at how
our lives are going and where we'd like them to take us. A time to make changes and
resolutions. For the tennis player, it can also be an opportunity to reflect and
evaluate our tennis, why we play, what we are looking for from the game and what we
would like to change.
What do you want out of your tennis? Do you play simply for the social aspects of the game and the exercise benefits, or, are you a player who is serious about getting better? If you answered yes to the latter, then you need to develop a game plan for improvement. The best game plans begin by challenging yourself with a Goals Program.
WHAT IS A GOALS PROGRAM?
A goals program consists of several short term goals leading up to a long term dream. For example, say that your long term goal is to make your high school tennis team and the tryouts begin in six months. You would put that goal down on paper in big print and then underneath it, list several short term (perhaps three months apart) goals you will strive to accomplish which will prepare you for the try-outs.
GET SOME HELP
Sit down and discuss your tennis with your pro or coach -- someone who knows your game and where you would like it to go. Between the two of you, come up with a long-term goal and several short-term goals, and the actions you will take to get you there. Write your goals and actions down and put them in a place where you can see them every single day. Keep
them in your mind, take them to the court with you when you practice and to the gym when you train.
The learning process in tennis, as anything else, can often be very tedious and frustrating. By devising a plan of short-term goals along the way to a long-term goal, you'll help keep yourself focused and, as you accomplish each short-term goal along your path, you'll get an extra boost of motivation and enthusiasm as you recognize that you're one step closer to achieving your long-term dream..
Below is an example of a Goals Program that I put together for one of my students whose long-term goal was to make her high school tennis team.
LONG TERM GOAL : SIX MONTHS
TO MAKE THE BETHEL HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS TEAM
1st THREE MONTHS: TO IMPROVE OVERALL CONSISTENCY & FOOTWORK
2nd THREE MONTHS: TO IMPROVE MATCH PLAY
HOW TO DEVELOP CONSISTENCY:
For the next three months, play tennis at least twice a week and work on consistency drills for all aspects of your game. Do a lot of cross-court and down the line drills such as we do in your lessons. Try to get to the point where you can keep the ball going 25-30 times each way. The goal is to develop the ability to keep the ball in play for an extended period of time, so hit at whatever pace you need to keep the ball going. Don't sacrifice control for power. Remember, 85 % of all points are decided by one player making an error. Practice NOT making errors!!!
Also, be sure to practice your serve. Try to hit at least one basket every time you practice. Set up targets in the service box and aim for them. Again, consistency and control are much more important than power.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR MOVEMENT:
Begin an off-court training program which includes both endurance and agility exercises.
ENDURANCE: Try to run for 30 minutes, three times a week. Go as fast or as slow as you need to complete the time. If you have to build up to 30 minutes that's fine. This will help you to play long matches without getting fatigued. Other exercises to improve your endurance could be an exercise bike, stairmaster, or swimming. Anything that gets your heart pumping for an extended period of time.
AGILITY: Start jumping rope on the days you don't do your endurance training. Jumping rope is absolutely the best exercise for improving your agility around the court. Begin by jumping with both feet, and then just the left foot, then the right, and then alternating feet. Try to build up so that you can do the following:
50 jumps with both feet
50 jumps on the left foot
50 jumps on the right foot
50 jumps alternating feet
Don't get discouraged if you can't jump very well at the start, none of us could. It will come with practice and you'll begin to notice your movement around the court will improve almost immediately.
SHORT-TERM GOAL: TO IMPROVE MATCH-PLAY
Three months into the program you should be very fit, agile, and able to keep the ball in play for an extended period of time. Now, as the tryouts are just twelve weeks away, is the time to start playing practice sets and matches. Try to play an extra time or two a week.
A perfect playing schedule might be: one lesson, one practice session where you continue to work on your strokes and consistency, and one or two practice matches each week. Hit as often as possible with whoever you can. If you could get a tournament in once a month, that would be great!!!
Keep up with your off-court training but begin to put more emphasis on your on-court time. If you have to miss a run or a jumping rope session to get in an extra practice match, that's fine.
FINALLY: As you get closer to the try-outs, and the weather permits, get out on the outdoor courts so that you can get used to the surface and the elements. A lot of kids only practice indoors and once they get to the try-outs are unable to handle the changes. Try to get used to the outdoor courts and conditions before the try-outs and you'll definitely have an advantage.
Make a Goals Program your resolution for this year's tennis season. Pick a long-term goal and several short term goals along the way which will get you there. Keep your goals in your sight and thoughts every day and you'll be well on your way to making 2001 your best tennis season yet!!!!!.