Movement is one of the most important aspects in tennis, and the ability to move better can make a huge difference in a player’s game. Fitness training has become an essential component for every serious player. However, there is one vital aspect that is seldom addressed to help on court movement - “attitude.” Only with the right “attitude” will a player be able to reach their movement potential on the court.
Here are a few ideas to create the ideal mental environment to move better:
Understand that Tennis is a Game of Movement. You get on the court to move – that is the sport. Most players see tennis as a game of hitting the ball and movement takes the role of an unfortunate consequence of playing the game. However, it is critical to change the focus. Truly believing that you get on the court to move is the first step to improve.
Bring the Necessary Intensity to the Court. Starting to the ball early makes a huge difference but the only way to achieve this is by being physically and mentally ready to move every time the opponent hits the ball. Stay on your toes and exude energy every time you step on the court.
Go for Every Ball. A common mistake is to try to evaluate if you should move to the ball. Can I get to the ball? Is the ball going out? There is not time to think. Great movers simply react. Get into the habit of trying to reach every ball regardless of where it will bounce. Just Move!
Never Let the Ball Bounce Twice. Whether you are practicing of playing, never let the ball bounce twice. Fight to reach every ball in one bounce every time you play. This will greatly improve your first step by teaching you to recognize short balls early.
Do not Let any Lobs go over your Head. When at the net, fight for every lob. Force yourself to catch the ball in the air and avoid backhand overhead whenever possible. Similarly to avoiding two bounces, this habit will lead to more efficient movement by training you to recognize the lobs better and react earlier.
Always Expect the Ball to Come Back. Many time players fail to get an opponent’s shot because they relax too soon. They hit a good shot and think the point is over or assume the opponent is going to hit a weak shot back. Regardless of the situation, stay intense and ready to run until the point is over.
Hit and Move. Every player understands the importance of moving fast to the ball, however, many forget to recover with the same intensity. Getting back in position is just as important as reaching a shot. Recover with the same intensity. Make sure you work as hard to recover as you do to reach the shot.
React do not Guess. Guessing should always be a last resort in tennis, left to occasions when the opponent has such an easy shot that unless you run before he/she makes contact, there is no way you will reach the ball. However, during a normal rally, there is no room for guessing. You are always better of reacting, since it is impossible to recover from guessing wrong.
Good mental habits are just as important as good footwork or speed training when it comes to moving better on the court!