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Hardscrabble Scramble
November 1998 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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The Dead Of Winter - A Great Time For Practice

Mike Whittington Photo
Mike Whittington

Have you been wanting to add that topspin serve or slice backhand to your game? For many people, this is a great time of year to work on that new shot or strategy.

You probably see yourself adding a new shot to your game when spring time comes around and the competition heats up. But the winter and holiday time can be a great practice time for many players.

To properly add a new shot your arsenal you need ample success in your practice drills and practices matches. Knowing that you have successfully executed that shot in practice many times will give you the confidence you need before trying it in an actual competitive match. Many people will learn a new shot in a lesson and try it immediately in their match the next day. The problem comes when the shot isn't executed in the match and the player looses confidence in ever trying it again. It is very important for the player to realize the need for learning time when adding a new shot to their game.

So for the next couple of months, consult your professional about new shots you would like to learn. With his or her help, you can concentrate on technique and gain confidence that you know how to hit the shot correctly. After your professional has taught you the correct technique and after you have performed the shot with a reasonable amount of consistency, it is time to try this shot in match play with match pressure. I suggest to my students to set up regular practice matches apart from competitive matches. For new shots such as serves, I tell the student to try the shot when he or she is up by 2 points in the game at 30-love, 40-love or 40-15.

After executing the shot several times in practice matches, you will be ready for the real thing and have confidence that you have prepared adequately for learning the shot.

Take advantage of this time of year. Learn the shot you've wanted and work on the weakest part of your game. The practice you put in now will spring up on your opponent in the near future.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


 

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