So you want to play better tennis and you want to do it NOW! But, you don't feel like changing your strokes, learning new strategies or even fixing your footwork. In other words, like me, you're too lazy to do any real work.
Well – have I got good news for you! Here are 10 super quick and super easy fixes that you can easily add to your tennis game TODAY, no matter how lazy you are, that will help take you to the next level.
1. Eat. This is so simple but can have a huge impact on your game. Because, if you're hungry, you're definitely not going to play your best tennis. You won't have as much energy. You are prone to muscle fatigue and cramps. And you definitely won't be able to concentrate. To prevent all of these problems, be sure to eat a healthy meal well in advance of your match and carry along a portable snack you can munch on between sets (a banana, a granola bar or the ever-popular Jelly Belly Sports Beans all come to mind).
2. Drink. Failing to properly hydrate before and during your tennis match can leave you both physically and mentally weak. Extreme dehydration can cause muscle cramping and, ultimately heat exhaustion or heat stroke. So it's important to drink up before you hit and court and to sip often while you're playing, on every changeover at least. The best on-court drink is also the cheapest – water. Be sure and bring your own so you know you'll have something. If water sounds a little boring, try flavored waters or sports drinks to keep yourself fresh and hydrated while playing. For more tips on hydration, check out this post: Drink! Drink! Drink!
3. Keep a can of balls in your bag. And a bottle of ibuprofen. And some Band-Aids. And a new wrap for your racquet grip. And a second racquet. In other words – keep your bag well-stocked with everything you might need out on the court to ensure you're playing your best. You don't want to forfeit your match because you didn't have a Band-Aid to put on a blister. Need more info on what to keep in your bag? Read this post: What's In My Tennis Bag?
4. Do your physical warm-up before you get on court. Warming up is easy, right? You bat a few balls around with your opponent for five minutes or so and then you're raring to go. Well, maybe this works for some small, obscure part of the population that isn't seriously considering buying a Tempur-Pedic mattress to alleviate morning back pain (FYI – I've already bought one), but for the vast majority of us, a few minutes of half-hearted hitting does nothing to get us truly warmed-up. So before you step on the court, take some time to do some pre-match stretches that will get your body loose and limber. You can find some great ones that you can do on court without feeling embarrassed in this post: Winning The Warm-Up.
5. Do your mental warm-up. Preparing yourself for a match mentally may be even more important than preparing physically. Because we all know, if nothing else, tennis is a head game. So spend a few minutes before you step on court, calming yourself and focusing on your upcoming game. Need some tips on how to get into the match mentally? See this post: Adjust Your Attitude To Win In Tennis.
6. Scope out your opponent. Even before a match starts, there are plenty of things you can learn about your opponent. Here's a great post on how to evaluate the person on the other side of the net: Sizing Up Opponents.
7. Focus during your match. When you're in a match, don't spend so much time chatting up your opponent on changeovers. Don't mentally beat yourself up for smashing that floater into the net. Don't try to figure out what you can make for dinner tonight. Remain calm and focus on what's happening on your court (not on the court next to you!).
8. Talk to your partner. I know some people are “bothered” by on-court chattiness. But my position is – in doubles, you can never talk too much on the court. If it helps you to discuss what's happening to your tennis game, then that helps me too because I know you feel better just by talking. And there's plenty to talk about with your doubles partner! For some suggestions, check out this post: “What Are They Talking About?”.
9. Target your serve. This is absolutely the most important thing you can do to improve your serve. As the saying goes, aim for nothing and you will hit it every time. But by aiming for something, there is a very good likelihood you will hit that instead. So, rather than just hoping that your serve lands somewhere in the box, pick out a target and go for it. Read more about targeting your serve here: Target Your Tennis Serve.
10. Know the rules. Did you know that if you hit your opponent with your serve before the serve bounces, its YOUR point? Did you know that if you're serving in doubles and one of your opponents calls your serve out but the other calls it in, the serve is good and its YOUR point? Learn the rules of tennis so that, should any situation ever come up where someone wonders “what the rule is on that,” you can whip out your rule book (which I assume you have in your well-equipped bag) and authoritatively state the proper outcome. And, hopefully, you won't get cheated out of a point ever again.
DON'T FORGET: Leave a comment on this post to enter the current Tennis Fixation Stringlet Giveaway. Go to this post – Stringlets: A Fun Fashion Statement And Giveaway! – to see what you can win and for info on how to get more entries!