All tennis players should have a strong interest in fitness. At lower levels we are wanting to become fitter, tennis might help us do this. At higher levels we want to improve our fitness above and beyond that required for the game of tennis so we can excel to greater levels. Regardless of your level you will need to condition your body to prevent injury, adapt to the movements required on the court and develop your game.
A player will need to perform strength training specific to the muscles used in the game. Weight training for especially the upper body is imperative as it will help you develop more power in your shots. If you look at Agassi for instance he could bench press 140kgs almost twice his body weight. This is a phenomenal power to weight ratio.
Strength training also helps prevent injury. Tennis can unbalance muscles in the body which can lead to injuries down the track. Often the front shoulder and chest muscles are more developed then the back muscles. Also the more dominant arm is often more developed then the non dominant arm. Working back and non dominant arm muscles will help balance your body out.
Some say tennis is 80% mental and 20% physical. Whether this is true or not, psychological factors play a big part in the game of tennis. Your mental training program should go beyond the game of tennis on the court. You really need to build your self confidence, develop a competitive attitude, practice relaxation and concentration techniques, ensure you use positive self talk and visualize your goals you want to achieve. All these factors cannot be covered here in detail, and some are self explanatory like self confidence. Really all need to be developed and worked on daily.
Self talk and a positive attitude is perhaps the most important factor that needs to be discussed here. When you miss a shot what do you tell yourself in your head? Something along the lines of “damn I missed it” or “ill hit my next one for a winner”. Can you see the first comment is self defeating and the second is positive. If you can change the way you think from a negative to positive outlook by consciously monitoring your self talk you will go a long way to a sound psychological mind for tennis.
Tactical elements of the game of tennis are often overlooked by most coaches which is a bad mistake. A more mindful tactical player will come out on top. Thousands of players hit better balls then the pros, however there poor tactical mind impedes there performances.
The ultimate tactic in tennis is consistency. The more balls you hit in the more likely you are to win a point. This is your greatest weapon. Good shot selection is also a cornerstone for a sound game. When in a rally situation you should use the more safe cross court shot, and only when you get a short ball that you can take advantage of should you go down the line.
The foundation of a good tactical play is the understanding of ones limits at all times. This comes through tactical practice and knowing where one is on the tennis court. Always incorporate tactics into a training regime and implement them in games.
Everyone’s technique is slightly different, however certain fundamentals need to be met for a sound shot. For example the racket face is always vertical on impact, certain grips work better on different shots, and a pathway of motion of the racket is required. For a topspin shot this would be from below the height of the ball to above the height of the ball.
Make sure when you train you develop a sound technique which can meet the demands of playing at higher levels, to ensure you do not have to drastically modify it later. This is done through developing those basic technical foundations that every coach should be able to help you with.