Now is the perfect time to practice your tennis game. We’re lucky to have Manhattan Beach Country Club Tennis Director, Spencer Trotta to give us some helpful tips so we’re ready to play some one-on-one in no time. Follow along for some tips from the pro that are sure to improve your game! Take it away, Spencer!
Improve your Technique
1. String Catch: Improve your net game and “finesse” for playing by doing this drill. Toss a ball up with your hand, and with your racquet, try to catch the ball on the strings with as little bounce as possible. This will help your touch for those drop shot volleys and sharper angles to finish a point at the net.
2. Practice your ball toss: The serve is the most important shot of the game. Too many players struggle with their serve because they don’t practice enough. The toss is vital for a consistent and powerful serve. You can practice this in your living room! Toss the ball while standing near a wall to literally have a block to keep the ball from being thrown all over the place. The more stable your toss the more you can control the outcome of the serve.
3. Bounce a ball on your racquet strings: Hold your racquet in continental (neutral) grip and bounce the ball on the strings with complete control. Don’t let the ball get away from you! Practice short bounces and higher ones without having to move your feet too much. Once you’ve mastered this, try alternating sides of your strings while bouncing the ball by flipping the racquet over every time the ball is in the air.
4. Volleying against a wall: The best way to improve your volleys on your own is by practicing against a wall. Take masking tape if it’s handy and make a small box on the wall about 4 feet off the ground to simulate hitting over a net. Do 20 consecutive forehand volleys, followed by backhands and then alternating forehands and backhands each time. It is important not to stand straight up and let your hands do all the work here—we volley with our legs. Get down in a squat position and rotate your lower body to adjust to forehand and backhand positioning. You can take this up a step for advanced players and bounce the ball on your strings once before hitting it on the wall each time it comes back to you.
Improving your Mental Game
1. Learn from the pros: Hey, who said watching TV wasn’t productive? It may seem like you’re not doing anything by sitting down, but watching tennis matches played by professionals is a great way to learn. Sometimes seeing something done correctly is the best way to learn how to do it yourself. So watch a match and notice the players’:
- Footwork every second of the point, even if they’re not hitting the ball
- Reaction to a shot
- Preparation and set up as the ball approaches them
- Where they hit the ball in relation to the opponent
- When to take advantage of an offensive shot and close the point compared to when to be defensive and hit it deep into the center of the court
2. Visualization: This is a method that some professional athletes of different sports feel help them play at their best. It is a belief that if you visualize yourself doing something, it’ll become possible to accomplish it. Sit in a quiet and dim space while closing our eyes. Visualize a tennis match that you’re playing. Watch your forehand, your reaction to the ball and the opponent, your set up; everything you watched the pros do but visualize yourself doing it.
3. Meditation: Find your tennis Zen. For those that find themselves distracted while playing tennis, taking up meditation can be a helpful exercise to improve this. While sitting or lying in a dim and quiet space, start by visualizing yourself in a match and let your mind wander to other things you commonly think about—then bring your mind right back to yourself playing the match. Repeat this process by thinking of yourself playing tennis, let your mind wander, and then bring it right back to the game. This will help when you’re playing a match and finding yourself not focusing. Your ability to recognize your distraction and bring your mind right back to the match will become easier to do.
Bryan Brothers doubles—there’s a reason why they’re top in doubles, watch how the Bryan brothers played doubles.
- How they react to each shot their partner hits
- When to close the net, poach, cover the line
- Serve placement followed by poach
- Goal setting—think about your goals in tennis either as an individual or with a partner.
Strengthening your Tennis Muscles:
1. Wrist Strength: Grab a tennis ball or stress ball and squeeze in your hand. An easy exercise to do while watching TV or anything that doesn’t require both hands. This helps strengthen your wrist and forearm muscles which are key to strengthening your wrist muscles to limit tennis elbow and wrist pains. Kick it up a notch by stabilizing your forearm on a surface and doing small wrist dumbbell curls with light weights.
2. Stretch: Let’s repeat this for importance, stretch, stretch, stretch! Your arms, hips, and core are constantly working while you play; use this time to really stretch out those muscles. We should be stretching every day after playing, but if you stretch a little each day, you’ll be nice and limber for when you’re back on the court.
3. Quick feet: Improve your quickness on court with fast agility footwork training. Being able to hit a ball well when it is tossed to you is one thing, but being able to run to and set up for a shot in the middle of a point is a completely different challenge. Using a ladder or any object you can place on the floor to run around can help with your fast side to side and front to back movement. It’s important to stay light on your feet; do not stomp or let your heels come hard on the ground as it removes the explosiveness that is necessary to move different directions quickly and also can harm your knees and other joints.
- Weave through a ladder going forward and backward as if you’re getting ready to hit a forehand or backhand.
- Place water bottles or cups in a straight line 1 or 2 feet apart and weave through on the balls of your foot.
4. Running: Building endurance is a key aspect in becoming a better tennis player. There’s a lot of stop and go in tennis between points, games and sets. But being able to run and sprint to every ball during a point may give you an advantage over your opponent. If you have access to a treadmill or a place to run, practice sprints with slow jogs between. This can simulate a tennis match where there are moments of fast sprints and intense running, followed by a short break while retrieving balls to start the next point. If you run continuously without stopping, you learn to catch your breath even while still moving which can translate into your game.
We can’t wait to see you on the court soon! For more details about tennis opening back up at the Bay Club, go to bayclubs.com.