When I am teaching tennis I do not try to improve players by focusing on the excellent shots that they make. Instead, I improve their core game and let the excellent shots take care of themselves. There is a dynamic principle in this concept of first improving their core game then letting the excellent shots take care of themselves.
Cause and result relationships like this have always fascinated me. They exist everywhere: in sports, the military, business, the arts, or any sphere of endeavor where excellence is the goal. If you can figure out the real causes that lead to success, then you will be way ahead of your competition on the tennis court.
For instance, I teach that the technical is a result, not a cause, of your playing well. The cause for a player being technically sound is MASSIVE REPETITION. If you make the technical the cause, then you have the dilemma that exists today in tennis clubs all over the world. It goes like this, "bend your knees, keep your eye on the ball, elbow in, stay still, stay balanced, don't look up, weight forward and wrist firm." Now you are expected to go out there and play perfectly relaxed, instinctive tennis!
All the technical skills I have mentioned above are the results of many, many, many hours of practice hitting tennis balls without overly focusing on each and every technique. Understanding the true cause/result relationship will speed up your progress in the tennis arena. The cause/result relationship is king!
Think about this. In any given match you have a certain number of swings at a ball. Out of those swings you make a certain number of shots. Whatever amount of shots you make during your matches is your core game. My goal is to raise a player's core game, not to improve a player's perfect winners. When you raise the core game you will be hitting more balls back with the same amount of swings! This results in a core game improvement that is subtle, yet powerful. How powerful? When the core game improves, your wins will go up substantially. Now that's powerful! Your focus should be long term. That means when you train you practice hitting the ball again and again and again - repetition, repetition, repetition!
If today you take 300 swings at a ball and 200 land in the court, with 4 months of training that same 300 swings will produce maybe 220 in the court. This does not seem significant but that simple change could take a 6-0, 6-0 lost and turn it into a 6-0, 6-0 win. This is powerful!
Now, do you have to give up your winners or excellent shots? Of course not. They will come naturally. You will find yourself hitting more winners. Why? Because you are hitting more balls back. Your control has improved. You will find more opportunities to go for it! The key is that these exhilarating shots have become relaxed results and are NOT being forced. You simply just play your game and when the shot is there you take it.