The Australian Open is here! Yay! I'm always excited when the Slams happen because I love watching the pros play tennis. But is there anything that we recreational players can learn from watching the pros? They're very different from us after all. In this episode of Tennis Quick Tips, I'll tell you the six things I think you can learn from watching the pros play tennis. Because I do truly think it can help you to become a better tennis player. And now you have a great excuse to lay on your couch and watch the Australian Open – you're just working on getting better at tennis! You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link: tennisfixation.com/itunes.
It's the first week of the Australian Open and Rafa has already been knocked out. It's really hot down there and the players are showing that when they're playing. But I love to watch the Slams and I especially love to watch the Australian Open because it's on late at night and early in the morning. And that seems to be a great time for me. I have a lot more time to just lay on the couch and watch.
I want to talk this week about what you can get out of watching the pros play tennis. Besides the fact that it's fun to watch them, there are some lessons you can pick up, some observations you can make if you watch carefully enough, and those are the types of things that, if you do pay attention, they can help you play better tennis.
So let's talk about what you can learn while you're watching the pros play tennis.
You can learn the importance and benefits of rituals when you watch the pros. Almost every pro that you will watch playing during the Australian Open has something they do repetitively that you can see that it's a ritual for them. This might be something they do while they're sitting waiting to go back on the court between sets or on changeovers. It might be the way that they drink their water or sports drink. It might be the way they put their towel around their neck or over their head. It might be something on court, like when they're getting ready to serve or return. They have a way that they walk to the back of the court or that they towel off. It might be they take a certain number of balls and hold a certain number of balls.
The bottom line is if you start looking carefully, you will see that all of the pros have different rituals that they go through that help them to focus during a match. And I'm not saying you need to watch these and copy them. But I am saying it shows the importance of you adopting your own rituals, especially when you're serving, when you're returning and when you're in between points. And you can see a lot of examples of those if you watch carefully when the pros are playing tennis.
When we're watching a Slam, like the Australian Open, often the matches will go for the men to five sets and for the women to three sets. Imagine playing five sets of singles. That means at one point in the match, you were down by two sets. Being down by two sets is a lot. And yet, again and again, players are able come back and win it in that fifth set. And the women too, they may go three sets, and that means at one point, they were down a set but they came back. So definitely, at that level of tennis, you see the importance of perseverance, of never throwing in the towel. And that's a lesson you can take away and apply to your benefit to your own tennis game.
I think this is especially true where you're talking about serving and returning. Sure, people double fault. No doubt about that. But it is not a constant situation of double faulting. And when you think about the returns that you see during pro matches, yes, different players are hitting different types of returns. But most of the returns are in. You don't see a lot of returns going out. You don't see a lot of returns going in the net.
So again, the idea of consistently getting your serve in, especially that first serve, and consistently getting your return in. It's very important at the pro level and it's very important for recreational players like us. And that's something you will see if you're watching the pros play tennis and it's a lesson you can take away and apply to your own game.
The pros are able to maintain their focus when they lose points and after long, grueling points. These are times when you can really see that the best players are able to regroup, get right back into the game, without letting those difficult times, the long points or the lost points, get to them. That's a lesson that we can learn and try to bring into our own matches. To play the point one point at a time, maintain our focus, and don't let it get to us when things get difficult or start going wrong.
5. Change It Up
The pros change it up. You see this a lot and watching tennis on TV is a really good way to see how the pros change it up. They do not consistently hit the same shot or the same type of shot over and over. They move it around the court. They hit deep shots. They hit drop shots. They hit loopy topspin shots. They hit slower slice shots, taking some of the pace off. Especially in men's singles, you will see that it becomes almost a game of chess, trying different things to find the Weakness in their opponent, and when they've got the opportunity, hitting the winner then, and only then, after they've run their opponent all over the court.
6. Listen To The Commentators
The final thing I think you can get from watching the pros playing tennis, especially during the Slams, is to listen to what the commentators are saying. They not only comment on the specific players they're watching, they'll also give great pointers and tips on how to handle different types of opponents, different types of shots, different strategies or tactics that are being put to use. I especially like to listen to Chris Evert, John McEnroe and Darren Cahill. I find those three commentators are really good at telling you what is happening on the court in the match that they're commentating on, but they always have great things to say that can help any tennis player improve their game.
So those are the six things I think you can get while you're watching the pros play tennis. Yes, the pros are different from you and me. They spend a lot of time out on court working. It's their full-time job. They're surrounded by teams of professionals helping them to master every shot, helping them to become mentally strong and physically fit. But a lot of what is happening in their matches are things that we can look at and take away and apply to our own matches and use to become better tennis players.
In other words, what I'm saying is, when you're laying on the couch, like I am, watching the Australian Open, you're becoming a better tennis player!
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