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Coaches Corner - tip of the month

Jak Beardsworth TennisAPRIL, 2012:


It’s not unusual for me to quickly suspect that wildly inconsistent players, albeit adequate ball strikers, not only fail to visualize their shots, but are also startlingly unclear when asked after a less than stellar shot, what their resulting margin-to-the-net actually was - as well as where, as a result in part, their shot landed in the opponent’s court. Leonardo da Vinci didn’t play tennis, but the king eclectic of his time related to how it should be played when he said, “…like a sailor who enters a ship without a helm or compass, and who can never be certain whither he is going.”

How do you dial-in your shot trajectories and bounce points if you’re without a “flight plan”? How do you correct errors if you’re unaware of precisely what your shot’s “flight” characteristics were supposed to be? This is precisely when you start choking – holding your breath for dear life and hoping for a good result.

Conversely, how can you be in a good shot-making position when you’re not observing an opponent’s margin-to-the-net and its accompanying trajectory and, as a result in part, where their shot is going to bounce?

Jak Beardsworth TennisThe court, particularly in singles, is very forgiving – it’s an aircraft carrier deck laterally, and vertically - no one is crossing and picking-off your high-over-the net shots intended to create depth. Doubles is quite another story. Rogue poachers abound, and the hitting lanes are primarily cross court and 50% less forgiving than in singles, alleys included. Simply being consistently cognizant – that means every single shot struck – of intended  ball flight “paths” in relation to the net, and how they convert to spotting the ball on the court, will elevate your game .5 on the NRTP scale in a matter of days! Now you’re making any needed adjustments on the fly and nipping in the bud those bad patches, which can cost you a close match.

Know the margins that you’re playing within. Visualize them by thinking in pictures.  Use the net and the lines as reference points, always creating safety and room for error without stifling aggressiveness.

More than anything (unless it’s a gross mismatch in skill), it is you, not them, who determines the level of your performance. It's something you do have total control over.

Questions and comments are welcome at anytime for all tips present and past via email.

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