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Tennis Strategy #37 Knowing What You Are Doing

If you don't know what you are doing, how can you change what you are doing?

How will you know when you are doing something new? ~ Torben Ulrich

These days you have a lot to gain from using a little technology on the tennis court. I have been using an old iPad to record matches and practices, then analyzing them for my students. This has also been affirming of my teaching techniques as I then can see the results of greater accuracy and speed of shot. No matter how you play, you won’t be harmed by hitting the ball faster and in the court. I strongly recommend that you become a member of SwingVision, using this referral link, you can get a FREE 45 Day Trial, but don't sign up, until you are ready to use it! because what you really need to maximize your improvement is real feedback. So far, I don’t seen any other alternative to SwingVision, because of the powerful data collection for each shot, and how you can isolate certain shots. This can actually be much better than being coached, but even more powerful than that would be sharing your data with your coach. Giving them a video broken down with only the points, and not the dead time, along with the ability to isolate certain shots, along with which ones you made and missed can facilitate a lesson that can be 100% more effective at helping you solve your largest problem in a match.

Use Your Resources

It takes a little more discipline, and some expense to make this happen. The good news is that outside of a $100 fence mount, most likely your existing iPhone or iPad will do the job, unless its more than 5 years old, then it’s not going to work. Of course, more up to date technology may yield better results. Watching yourself back, and seeing the relative speed and placements of shots, gives you a reality check. I am not 100% sold on the accuracy of the speed data, but I do believe its close +/- 2 units. I’m also not sure the MPH measured is accurate, but if you look at the numbers as simple units of measurement, you will have a basis to see improvement. For example, Saturday I took on two very good junior tennis players, giving them their first ever lesson with me, and improved their ball speed by approximately 20%. Along with this their accuracy of shot also improved because they learned to use their core more and their hands and arm less.

Perception And Reality, Matching Them Up

One of things we strive for in life is to have our perceptions more accurately reflect reality. Watching the actual video of ourselves playing can be a little embarrassing, especially if we have a little gut, or are a bit off balance for some shots. Most people have an idea of how ‘pro’ they look when they play, but I’m pretty sure you will see non-pro moments. That’s also a major part of the growth mindset you will need to advance to higher levels. When I asked Torben Ulrich who has been referred to as “The first Inner Game Tennis Player”, he said, “First you have to know what you are doing. How will you know if you have changed what you are doing, if you don’t know what you are doing.’ Knowing what you are really doing, as opposed bias opinions of ourselves or others, and what you feel as though you are doing can be quite different. Our live point play may also look much different than shots on the ball machine, or easy shots hit by the tennis pro that make you look artificially good. You need actual results from live point play, in order to realize what your real needs are compared to your perceived needs. When you can find the true #1 most common error you make, or your really best strength, then you can mitigate the one, and work to use the other more often.

Sometimes It's Not Pretty

Watching the match back might point to a stroke deficiency, a choice of shot, a movement pattern or some other factor that creates the most errors for you. You can also start to see the incoming shots that when you attack them, they lead to better outcomes in the point. You start to turn the tide of percentages in your favor. As a matter of habit, you want to keep working and refining your strengths, and bolster your biggest weakness, so that you can keep more points alive.

Consider The Consequences Of Your Game

Power players are going to win or lose their matches more quickly. Grinder/counterpuncher types are going to use massive amounts of energy for every win or loss. Both players are at-risk for losing to one of the other major strategies, because those people can find your weakness and exploit it. If they play defensively enough to thwart your offense, or can play nearly equally a counter punching player, but they have a way to attack you, then you are at a disadvantage. Disruptive players, and those who use movement might take longer to win than a Time and Space player, because they are putting more pressure on opponents and forcing the play sooner.

Anyone Can Be A Power Player One Day A Year

If you are winning and your game doesn’t take a lot of brain power that’s nice, but you don’t want to lose to someone who has less game than you because they outsmarted you. The power game, pressure movement, and grinder/retriever type players play the simplest game plans, and thus don’t have to think as much about varying tactics. Perhaps that’s the reason they don’t attempt another strategy, because they don’t want to put in the brain work to make it happen.

The power player can become quite frustrated by the player who mutes their power, or does not give them the ball they want in order to slug it.

The Time and Space Player can be frustrated by the player who makes them hit one more shot than they planned. More returns, more passing shots and lobs coming back can wear them down.

The pressure movement player can be frustrated by the player who moves just as well, but uses a different strategy, thus taking over play.

The Disruptive player may not be able to get a foothold against the power player, if they can’t time their shots for the spin.

The Retriever grinder can be victimized by any of the above players.


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