Ball into the net. Shot landing behind the baseline. Bad decision made at the end of deciding set. Tennis is full of errors – it doesn’t matter at which level we compete. Mistakes are present and we can’t avoid them. Should we leave them as they are? Definitely not. We can do a lot to make our game better and professional tennis coach Marcin Bieniek will help us understand how.
Many players can’t accept making mistakes, they get angry and never perform up to their potential. It is visible from the early years of tennis development up to the highest levels of professional career. Only understanding mistakes and learning to react properly can give us advantage over opponents and make us improve at much faster pace. We can’t avoid mistakes, but we can definitely reduce their number.
MAKE YOUR REACTION TO MISTAKES CONSTRUCTIVE
Typical reactions to mistakes are: anger, negative thinking and bad decisions. In tennis these reactions can cost us many precious points and even whole matches. Should we really give so much negative power to these mistakes? We don’t have to. If we approach mistakes properly, we will see that our reactions help us play our best possible game. It is irrational to think that we can play without mistakes, so it is a smart move to prepare for them. Legends Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams make mistakes even with all their experience and trophies won over past years. Their errors are just a confirmation that it is more effective to focus on our reactions to mistakes than to think how to completely avoid them.
DISTINGUISH BETWEEN GOOD AND BAD MISTAKES
Some mistakes we should accept, others we should try to immediately correct. In most cases, good mistakes are related to good decisions. It simply means that if you have an open space on the court and you hit down the line, but the ball goes slightly out, we can accept this mistake because it was the right thing to do. On the other hand, if the opponent has a powerful forehand and additionally has a perfect position on the court, making a mistake while trying to hit a backhand down the line winner will be a bad one because we have a small chance to win the point.
UNDERSTAND THE REASONS BEHIND MISTAKES AND CUT THEM IN THEIR ROOT
There are a lot of factors that can have an impact on our mistakes. We can hit more balls into the net because we think about problems at school. We can lose quality of our performance because we are tired. We can get injured while running because our technique or equipment is wrong (you should use running shoes for improving endurance and performance by running and not tennis shoes).
Understanding the reasons of our mistakes is the first step in preparing and correcting errors. If we know the reason, we can easily find the solution to get rid of it.
MAKE YOUR DIET WORK FOR YOU
The biggest pitfall for junior players is poor nutrition. Young people don’t understand the connection between a healthy diet and excellent performance on the court. As a tennis coach I always show benefits of healthy eating to my players to make them aware that this little change can skyrocket their energy and make a big difference both on and off the court. Do mistakes happen because of a lack of energy? Of course. When we are tired, we hit with less precision, we rush our shots and we play the game we can – not the game we should.
During training/match remember to have bananas or supplements to constantly keep your energy level good enough to play up to your potential. For example, this PowerBar High Performance Sport Drink is a great supplement.
DON’T DEVELOP SKILLS ONLY ON THE COURT
You spend 2 hours on the court and work really hard. You see the improvement, but it is quite slow and you still make a lot of mistakes. What should you do? Remember that improvement doesn’t happen only on the court. You can get better and win more matches if you do specific things when you are in the gym, at home or even while travelling by bus. Learning how to properly breath can help you relax after making mistakes on the court. Watching tennis matches on TV will make you aware of different tactical patterns to use. Doing some workouts at home will make your body stronger. Want to stay in shape, increase power of your shots and avoid mistakes? Working with a medicine ball guarantees them all.
We can hate mistakes, but there is one truth: all mistakes are helpful. When you play tennis, you have to be ready for mistakes because they will happen every day. Your reaction to them will define you as an athlete. Use tips in this article and even if you make a lot of mistakes during the match you will still finish as a winner.
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach, currently working with a Top 60 ITF player, and founder of instructional website TennisIsland.us. He is also the author of Enjoy Tennis Blog, a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.
MORE ARTICLES BY TENNIS COACH MARCIN BIENIEK:
- Things to (not) do on vacation to improve your tennis game
- How to translate your tennis practice into match wins
- How to build team spirit in tennis
- How to become a master of claycourt tennis
- How to make your serve more effective
- How to choose the best tennis racquet to fit your level, playing style and body type
- How to handle playing tennis in sunny conditions and even take it to your advantage
- 5 portable fitness tools for serious tennis players
- Best foam roller exercises for tennis players