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How to improve every day


Four things every tennis player can do everyday, without a coach.

While most of us would like to improve our game, it is easy to find an excuse why we can’t. Two common excuses are that coaching costs are prohibitive or that we can’t find a hitting partner, or even both. Here are four ways of improving your tennis by yourself.

Serve a basket of balls
This is so simple. No practice partner, no coach, just a basket of balls (hopefully more than 30) and you serving. Practice your kicker, slice, and flat serves; practice serving from the ‘deuce’ and the ‘ad’ side; practice your first and second serves. You can even set up games where you put pressure on yourself, with little punishments for not achieving your goals, and rewards for doing so. Aim for cones or little pyramids of balls.To improve speed, try to minimise the number of bounces an ‘in’ serve makes before hitting the back fence. Experiment. Remember, it’s the one shot that you will have total control over.

Go for a run
You don’t need to understand sport science principles to do this. Just get on the road, or pavement or (ideally) a grass field and run. A 10 to 20 minute run is a good place to start. Adding some intervals of high intensity running (aka sprinting) would be better. And throwing in some hill sprints would be the best.

Do chin-ups and push-ups
These two body weight exercise require very little equipment (a tree branch or metal bar and the floor) yet, together, they train pretty much every muscle in the upper body. Aim to perform two push-ups for every chin-up you do.

If you can’t do a chin-up, try a supine pull-up. This is where you lie down on your back, grab a horizontal bar that is about one metre off the ground and, keeping your body in a straight line, pull your chest towards the bar. If you choose to do the supine pull-up aim for two supine pull-ups for every push-up.

Hit against a wall for 30 minutes
Hitting against the wall is not only good for your hitting, it will increase your mental toughness, discipline and your concentration. It can also help with your movement and reaction times. Whereas a basket of balls are required for practicing the serve, in theory you only need one ball to hit against a wall. Again, be competitive and make little games for yourself. Aim to hit ten forehands in a row, then 15, and so on. Or alternate between forehands and backhands. To develop your movement make sure that there are no double bounces – sprint to every ball.

Now that you have read the article, you don’t have any excuses. Happy hitting.

Grant Jenkins is the Physical Performance Coach at the National Academy Queensland in Australia. He oversees the physical development and rehabilitation of all the NAQ athletes. He also manages the Sport Science aspect of the program. Follow him on twitter @Grant_Jenkins or email gjenkins@tennis.com.au.