What is your game plan for improving the way you play? Do
you take plenty of lessons? Have you been to tennis camp?
Do you watch all the tennis you can get on television?
Although those things obviously help, many players neglect
what I feel is one of the most important aspects of
improving - competition.
Have you ever played in a tournament against someone that
looked like a professional in the warm-up but completely
fell apart in match play? It happens all the time.
These players feel comfortable until it is time to actually
keep score and since they are in that situation only in
tournament matches they may not be used to the pressure.
Playing in a tournament can be great for your game and
I've watched players of all levels improve after learning
their real strengths and weaknesses in tournament play.
Playing actual matches puts a certain amount of pressure
on you that just can't be replicated in a lesson.
If you are a tournament or team player I think it is
imperative that you play matches to supplement your
lessons if you want to really improve. It's like doing
your homework in school - you've been taught a technique
or style and you need to put it to the test in some sort
of competition. Players may feel a false sense of
security if they hit well in lessons but never use their
game before the competition.
An example would be someone that can get in 10 out of 10
first serves during a lesson but they habitually double
fault in match play. You have to learn to carry your
lesson game to the actual match and the more you compete
the sooner that will be. I realize that not all teaching
professionals will agree with me. In fact I know that
some players playing on tour have been advised to work on
their strokes over a certain period of time without
competing. This philosophy does have some merit in that
you might want to make sure that your game is completely
sound before attacking the tournament circuit. However,
I see players that are competing in match play,
tournaments, team tennis, etc. improve at a much faster
rate than those who do not.
Just try my theory for a few weeks. Double the amount of
match play you have now if that is possible. Many people
use their lessons as their only form of practice. Try
adding just a match per week. I bet you will find that
not only will you improve faster but also you will learn
your strengths and weaknesses better and get more out of