Not being able to find a punching partner or go outside due to the weather or get into your health club due to current COVID-19 restrictions is certainly not fun for anyone.
Every serious tennis player I’ve known (myself included) is somewhat obsessed, which means if we can’t go out and practice every day for at least an hour or so, we think we might take behind our competitors.
In the bodybuilding movie “Pumping Iron”, Lou Ferrigno’s dad and trainer used this kind of psychology to motivate his son to prepare to face Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest: “If you train hard, he (Arnold) trains maybe twice as hard. “
By the end of this movie, I was convinced that Arnold was actually the one who feared a new competition from “Big Louie,” the future 6-foot-5, 290-pound Mr. Universe winner, and then the actor in color green in the TV series “The Incredible Hulk”.
This is just one example that can help us understand the possible inner thoughts and feelings of our many weekend athletes and warriors who are unable to compete at this time. Below are some ideas to help us recreational tennis players stay active and motivated, along with some comments on the often overlooked mental connection when learning tennis and many other sports.
Most tennis instructors will tell you that tennis requires good hand-eye coordination. Sounds reasonable. But, since I like to push the boundaries (and keep things interesting), I say tennis requires good eye-hand-mind coordination.
Proof of this concept can be seen by carefully watching Roger Federer’s slow motion YouTube video that I posted on my website, www.targettennisinternational.com/about. I highly recommend you watch this short revealing video.
This video reveals that Roger’s eyes are 100% focused on the event of contact between his racket strings and the tennis ball – no one can dispute that fact. Roger obviously knows where he wants the tennis ball to go, so he has to visualize a target (in his mind), before the contact event, which occurs in a millisecond of time.
Since your eyes can’t focus on two things at the same time, it’s also proof that a factor of trust (what’s going on in your mind) is also heavily involved.
This awareness (or realization) also applies to other sports. If you are trying to hit a golf ball or shoot a hockey puck, you are trusting in spatial awareness, that is, the position of your body in relation to the golf hole, the hockey goal. or to the lines of the tennis court.
This confidence is based on previous comments of all of your past shots (or shots). You can find more detailed proof of this concept on my website.
With all tennis skeptics, I just set up two hoop targets over the net and asked them to alternate their shots in two different positions and then explain to me how they accomplished this. I can still hear crickets after this simple exercise.
As you practice some of the home tennis drills listed below, try to increase your awareness of this fundamental principle of eye-hand-mind tennis:
- Your service throw. When you cannot get to the court to practice your serve, you can practice your serve throw indoors or outdoors with a target cone or empty tennis ball box in your serving hand. Your ideal throw should be about a foot in front of you and about a foot to the side of your service arm, and high enough that you really have to reach for the ball to catch it in the empty box or target cone. Try to catch 25 in a row without missing out.
- Wall fly. Clear the room of lamps and other brittle objects and practice your volley against a wall with a foam tennis ball. Turn your body to the side and make sure your head follows the height of the racquet face when making contact with the ball. Try to maintain a rally for 25 or more hits in a row. Use gentle hands to control the rally.
- One-handed backhand. A good way to improve your one-handed backhand is to use a Frisbee. You can purchase regular golf discs or foam discs for indoor use. Get really good at throwing a Frisbee through a hoop target and it will really improve your one-handed backhand.
- Two-handed reverse. If you or your child is a two handed backhand player, you should immediately start doing more things at home with your non-dominant hand. If your kid’s forehand is right handed, then he should start doing more things with his left hand, for example: opening doors, eating, drinking from a glass, brushing his teeth, brushing his hair, etc. Your non-dominant hand will do most of the work on your two-handed backhand strokes and it will strengthen your coordination.
- Throw a soccer ball. A good serve movement in tennis is synonymous with a good throwing movement. Find a friend, family member, or neighbor to practice with on a daily basis if possible. Smaller soccer balls for little hands are available. You can often find them at Goodwill for a few dollars. Start closer to warm up, then gradually move away to the length of a tennis court – 5-10 minutes a day is enough.
- Turn off the sound. Watching tennis matches on TV or YouTube is always beneficial. But, turn off the sound and call the match in your own mind. You will become more aware of the good and bad choices of strokes that players are making more quickly, without being distracted by the commentators. Make your own observations and focus on a player rather than the ball.
- A ball machine, hitting wall or backboard really is your tennis best friend. The back panel should be tilted / tilted slightly to return a more impactful ball so you can get into rhythm and long rallies. Email me for free plans to make your own.
Coach Brian Walters is a certified tennis instructor with 25 years of experience in the Lake Minnetonka area. He blogs and offers free tennis tips on his website www.targettennisInternational.com and is available to talk to teams, coaches, classes, etc. You can also reach him at [email protected]