I was searching for some episode of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast the other day and came across an oldie but a goodie. It was Episode 10 called Top 10 Tennis Tips for Lazy Players and it gave 10 of my best tips for improving your tennis play very quickly with very little effort. I'm sure you are not a lazy tennis player because if you were, you probably wouldn't be listening to this podcast. But I'll bet that you would love to know a few small things you could do that would make a big impact on your game really quickly. Well, that is what Episode 10 was all about. And since I know how great those kind of little tips are, I wanted to give you 10 more that you could put into practice right away.
So here they are – 10 more tennis tips for lazy players. Even if you're not really a lazy player.
1. Own two tennis racquets and bring them to every match.
I promise – I am not a spokesperson for any racquet manufacturer. But this seems like something that should be a no-brainer and clearly isn't. I believe that, no matter what level of player you are, even if you're an absolute beginner, you should own and always carry at least two tennis racquets with you when you're going to play a tennis match. I have seen players at every single level that I've ever played at, from absolute beginners to open level players, show up at matches with just one racquet. While you may not believe it, the fact is, at some point, you are going to break a string or crack the frame of your racquet and you are going to need that second racquet to complete your match. On more than one occasion, I myself have broken a racquet string and needed to pull out my second racquet to keep playing. And I am not someone who hits really hard or with super massive topspin. Racquet strings just wear out and a mishit of the ball can cause one to suddenly snap. Plus, having that second racquet means that when you do go to restring, you always have a racquet ready to play.
If you're interested in knowing how to handle the situation where your string breaks in the middle of a match, check out Episode 111 of Tennis Quick Tips called My Tennis Racket String Broke – Now What?. That episode tells you what I did when this happened to me.
2. Restring your racquet as needed.
I know this seems like a silly tip – it's so obvious, right? And if you're someone who is consistently paying attention to the state of your strings and getting your racquet restrung as needed, then you aren't going to get any benefit from this particular tip. But I can tell you that, again, players at all levels are not getting their racquets restrung as often as they need to and their games are suffering as a consequence. Because even if you're racquet strings are not broken, over time, as they fray and wear out, they are less elastic and less able to “grip” the ball to help add spin. The elasticity of your strings adds to the trampoline-effect you get when you hit the ball, helping the ball to pop off your racquet faster and with more power. The texture on the surface of the strings helps to grip the ball and add to the spin you are trying to get. When your strings are frayed and split, you lose the elasticity and texture of the strings. So even if your strings aren't broken and are still technically playable, you are not getting the extra little help your strings can give to you when they are in good condition.
If you want to know when you should restring your tennis racquet, check out Episode 82 of Tennis Quick Tips called When to Restring Your Tennis Racquet.
3. In doubles, pick on the weak link.
This is the most basic and easiest doubles strategy to apply. And it should be something you're constantly thinking about and doing on top of any other strategy you might be putting into effect out on court. But sometimes, we forget to pick on the weak link. We get caught up in a lot of other things going on in the match and we end up hitting to the strong player over and over. So be sure that you and your partner are figuring out which of your opponents is the weak link and concentrate on getting lots of balls to that player. And remember – the weak link may not be the opponent with the less powerful or accurate shots. The weak link can also be the opponent who is less consistent and more prone to errors or who is getting tired and is ready to quit or who is just frustrated and unhappy. Do not discount the value of observing these things and playing to that player. And remember that the weak link can change during the match. Lots of things can happen – one of your opponents finally warms up and her serve or her shots get a lot better, your opponents change their strategy, or a strong opponent gets tired or gets a poor attitude. You have to be looking for these types of things throughout your match and be sure you keep looking for that weak link.
For more info on picking out the weak link in your doubles match, listen to Episode 128 of Tennis Quick Tips called Really Easy Doubles Strategy: Pick on the Weak Link.
4. When serving, only hit a good toss.
No matter what level I have ever played at, I consistently see players who not only have bad tosses when they serve, but they hit these bad ball tosses. I'm sure you see this too. Players who throw all of their service form out the window to chase a bad toss. They fall off to one side or they lean way back. Why are they doing this? Well, I hope you are not doing this because the fact is, you can toss as often as you need to to get the exact right toss for your serve. So take your time. Get your toss right so that you can get your serve right. And yes, I know that the rules allow us only 20 seconds between when one point ends and the next point begins. And that next point begins when the next serve is struck, not when the ball is tossed. But 20 seconds is probably longer than you think it is. And unless you are excessively retossing the ball as some form of gamesmanship, I'm sure your opponents will let you take the amount of time that you need to get your toss right, as long as that amount of time is reasonable.
To find out more about using a good toss to hit a good serve, check out Episode 76 of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast which was called For a Good Serve, Hit a Good Toss.
5. Get your first serve in.
I used to say, “never hit a second serve” when I was giving this tip. But then I had someone ask me if I literally meant to never hit a second serve after you fault on your first serve. That is definitely NOT what I mean! Of course, if you fault on your first serve, you are going to take a second serve. Instead, what I mean is you really, really need to get that first serve in, especially in doubles. When you have to hit a second serve, you put yourself under extra stress and pressure because you you don't get another chance to serve for that point. And your opponent views that second serve as their opportunity to attack. So try to get that first serve in as often as you can. This may mean taking a little something off of it, maybe not hitting it quite as hard or as fast. Or it may mean adding a little something, like spin, to get it in. You can easily use your second serve as your first serve if necessary to be sure you get that serve in.
For more on the importance of having a good second serve, check out Episode 9 of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast called Improve Your First Serve with a Real Second Serve.
6. Hit cross-court.
Whether you are playing singles are doubles, most of your shots should be hit cross-court during a match. This is true when you're hitting returns or playing out a point. There are a lot of reasons for this, and I gave five of them in Episode 134 of Tennis Quick Tips which was called Top 5 Reasons to Hit Cross Court. But the most important one, in my opinion, is – because it gives you more room to hit into so you have a larger margin of error. So hit your shots cross-court when you can.
7. Be patient.
If you're like me, you like to be up at the net, playing fast and hard with lots of sharp angles and quick winners. And while that CAN be a winning game strategy, a lot of times, it's not. Many opponents will take advantage of your quick, up-at-the-net style by lobbing you, running you around, and basically wearing you down with a slower, loopier kind of play. They will let you work yourself to exhaustion and make tons of errors just by calmly doing nothing more than getting the ball back in play. When you find yourself in that situation, you have to be patient. Use patience as your weapon. Don't rush the point even though you'd like to. Patiently wait for your opportunity to hit the winner.
8. Learn how to deal with your opponent's bad calls.
When your opponent makes a bad call (or several of them) and they are making calls that they are entitled to make according to the rules, sorry but you have to accept those calls. Good or bad. No one is perfect with line calls and your opponent is most likely calling the lines as best as he or she can. If you get frustrated by bad line calls, however, you will not only NOT play your best tennis, you'll most likely play even worse than usual.
But that doesn't mean that you do nothing about bad line calls. If you can get an official involved, like when you're at a tournament, do so. But if that's not an option, put your opponent on notice that you're watching these calls with a simple, “Are you sure?” and move on. Do not carry any negative energy you might develop into the next point and certainly don't lose focus by dwelling on bad line calls.
9. Talk to your doubles partner.
Probably one of the easiest ways to become a better doubles player is to increase the amount of communication you have with your partner. Even if you think you're talking a lot, I bet your could double that amount and maybe then you'll be at an optimal level of communication. The fact is that you should always be communicating with your doubles partner. By talking between points, discussing what is happening during the match, you ensure that you're both on the same page as far as tactics and strategy. By talking during points, when appropriate, you make sure that you are positioned correctly and covering the maximum amount of court possible. Just be sure when communicating with your partner that you keep your talk positive and non-judgmental.
This last tip is one of the easiest to do but it's also one of the hardest. A simple way to play better tennis without actually practicing is to just relax. When you're nervous or excited, your muscles will tense up, your heart rate will increase and your focus will go right out the window. So be sure to relax in all ways when playing tennis – on your strokes, on your serve and return, and in your attitude. Calm down. Enjoy yourself. Tennis is a game after all. By relaxing and staying calm, you'll have more fun and actually play better!
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE
If you want to check out any of the resources mentioned in this episode, check out these links:
- Top 10 Tennis Tips For Lazy Players – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 10
- My Tennis Racquet String Broke – Now What? – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 111
- When to Restring Your Tennis Racquet – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 82
- Really Easy Doubles Strategy: Pick on the Weak Link – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 128
- For a Good Serve, Hit a Good Toss – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 76
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