No matter your level, there’s a good chance you are always looking to improve. With that being said, I wanted to start a weekly challenge for anyone out there ready to add a weekly challenge to help improve your game.
So let’s start with something easy.
The Serve. Something so simple to work on, but always neglected. The one thing you can practice without anyone else. Go out there (I’m thinking before or after your normal tennis sesh), grab an open court and get to it.
Things to focus on:
Don’t just go through the motions.
Be mindful of what you are working on, whether it is pace or location; 1st or 2nd serves; slice, kick or flat. Use targets and key in on your spots. Practice with intention.
My biggest pet peeve in tennis are double faults. Giving away free points is not something I am a fan of and when the serve is completely in your control, there are no excuses! In the back of your mind, you should always know that you can, and will, make your second serve. So practice it! Put the pressure on. Force yourself to make 9 out of 10 second serves or else you have to run a lap or suicide (or something you don’t want to do). If 9 out of 10 is too hard, start simpler and go for 6 out of 10; then 7 out of 10…until you work to perfect 10 of 10 (this isn’t going to happen over a 30 minute practice session, so have patience and work toward this goal over several practices). This is where you can also put your ritual into practice, whether it is bouncing the ball 3 times, repeating certain words, breathing a certain way…practice it how you would if you were serving in a match.
Hit your targets.
I’m a big fan of putting targets out on the court, small ones (I like using single tennis balls, but if you want a bigger target, use a pyramid of 4 balls) that you really need to focus in on. Pick a spot and work on it. Don’t move on until you are happy with the way you are hitting that serve in that location. When placing your targets, be aware of depth and angles off the court — making targets appropriate for the location of your 1st and second serves that are flat/slice/kick. And make sure you give yourself a margin of error, don’t set up targets on the line, but give yourself a couple inches in case you are off.
This is NOT a punishment! This is something extra that can help your game improve. Don’t go out there in a bad mood. If you aren’t feeling it, don’t do it. Or bring some music with you to help keep you happy and motivated while serving. Feel free to try and get out there every day this week too if you have the time and are finding this little extra court time to help.