The best things in life take time. They also take a lot of hard work. This is true even in this technology-driven, on-demand world we live in. They take time, hard work, dedication, and a lot of patience. No one becomes an athletic star overnight because natural talent only takes you so far.
The greatest athletes in any sport start off just like everyone else. They work hard for a long time to get where they are. They practice, practice, practice for many long hours. While they certainly fine tune their skills over time, do you know what they always work the hardest at? Mastering the fundamentals.
Tennis Fundamentals to Develop Your Best Game
The fundamentals of tennis are the basic building blocks of the game every player must master to play at their peak level. They don’t happen automatically. They are developed with years of consistent practice and devotion. That’s why tennis lessons for kids are so important.
You may think the fundamentals are something you can always learn later. However, your most critical years of athletic development actually happen before the age of 12. Your time is now! Work hard to develop these fundamental skills now so you can take your game to that next level when the time comes.
1) Athletic Prowess
Professional tennis players are first and foremost world class athletes. They have strength, stamina, and speed. They are agile and quick on their feet. World class level athleticism doesn’t begin in college or even high school. It begins now. You are a world class athlete in training.
Like every great athlete, you need to grow and develop all of your athletic skills and abilities. This means engaging in many different activities to develop overall as an athlete, not just hitting tennis balls. Run, sprint, and learn to throw a football or baseball. Do some strength training. Get outside and play basketball or dodgeball or something else. Being a world class athlete is a lifestyle. Get up and move!
2) Footwork Skills
Tennis is a lot more than just hitting tennis balls over the net. Much of the game takes place below the knees. You need to be quick and agile, able to leap out to intercept an incoming ball. You need to be able to maintain your balance while getting to the ball as efficiently as possible every time.
Your position and balance on the court at all times are determined by what you do with your feet. You need to get in the optimum position to execute each shot and quickly recover from it to be in position for the next shot. It’s all in your footwork.
3) Your Hitting Zone
There is a zone where you feel most comfortable when hitting the ball. This is your hitting zone. It’s the ideal area from the side of your body out to where you make contact with the ball. In your hitting zone, you naturally have more strength and more control over your swing. Your instructor will help you discover your personal hitting zone.
Your goal is to hit as many shots as you can from in your hitting zone, knowing your opponent will always try to force you to take shots outside of your hitting zone. Sometimes, it’s necessary, but the best players limit the shots they have to take outside of this zone. How? A lot of it goes back to footwork. You have to anticipate where the ball will land and move to get yourself in the optimum position. That is, where you can hit the ball within your hitting zone.
4) Strong Core
Your general posture and balance are critical to the fundamentals of the game. If you watch professional players, they move around the court with grace. Their upper body hardly looks like it moves at all until it’s time to swing. Their lower body is hard at work. Watch their heads. They don’t bob up and down.
This all comes from a strong, developed set of core muscles. Your goal is to keep your center of gravity between your feet as much as you can. Reducing your upper body movement as much as possible will allow smooth, clean movement and ball tracking. Again, this all goes back to your core muscles. Part of your athletic training should target these muscles.
5) Position of Your Head
Why does your head position matter so much it is considered a tennis fundamental? Because it affects the stability of your shot and your focus. Keep your head still and focused on your hitting zone throughout your shot and even for a moment after contact. This is the posture of confidence.You know where you will hit the ball and where it will go once you hit it. The position of your head says it all.
6) Your Follow Throughs
What’s the ideal follow through? That depends on the shot you’re taking. Sometimes your follow through needs to be over the shoulder. Sometimes it needs to be around the shoulder. And sometimes, it better be across the side. There is no one-size-fits-all.
The first question is what kind of shot are you going to hit.Where are you located on the court and what are you trying to accomplish? This will determine what follow through will suit you best. Work with your trainer on hand and wrist movement to control the direction and spin of each shot.
7) Your Mental Game
Tennis is just as much mental as it is athletic. Like chess, you always need to think ahead of your opponent. Learn to anticipate shots so you can move into position and hit the ball in your hitting zone. It’s also about your mental toughness.
Learn to train your thinking to engage in positive, constructive thoughts. Understand your athletic development is over the long haul and don’t get hung up on mistakes or losses. You are a world class athlete in training, remember. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow.
Master the Basics to Become a Master
If you want to play like a pro, now is the time for hard work and practice. Remember, you are conditioning your body for world class level tennis. But don’t get discouraged. It won’t happen right away. If you keep your head down, though, and work hard on all the tennis fundamentals, one day you will wake up a Master.
Contact Us to learn more about the fundamentals of tennis or to schedule youth tennis lessons.