How to maximize quality of tennis training sessions

This is a guest post by tennis coach Marcin Bieniek, our regular contributor. This month’s column gives tips on how to maximize quality of training sessions to achieve the best results.

Practice is an important factor in improving any skill. In tennis, we spend a lot of time training on courts or in the gym to get stronger and achieve better results, but many sessions don’t go as smoothly as we would expect. Why is that? Let’s discover the truth.

There are different clubs, different coaches, different philosophies and different drills, but training sessions have one major goal everywhere — to improve our skills. It doesn’t matter if we spend 60 minutes on the court or our schedule is more filled up with numerous tennis and athletic activities, we can always take our skills to the next level if we put enough work and preparation into it. Yes – work and preparation. If we don’t work hard every day, we can forget about maximum improvement and fast development. If we do things without planning, we can’t expect to be lucky enough to always find the best solution in a given situation.

Many factors have influence on our performance during the practice. The more factors we are conscious of, the more opportunities we have to control them and let them help us play more effective training sessions. We have to remember that the better quality of what we do every day, the bigger chance we have of winning during competitive situations. There is a correlation between training and competition performance, so players should always try to get the most of each practice session with thought in mind that this particular time can decide whether they will lift the trophy during the weekend.

All tennis players train, but not all of them improve all the time. It simply means that they don’t use all the minutes of the practice session to improve technical, tactical, physical and mental skills. It is important to pay attention to all details and get the most of each practice session. Here are the most common reasons why tennis players are not able to practise effectively from the first to the last minute of the session:

MOTIVATION

To practise like a professional, you need motivation. Mostly the one that comes from inside. It is important to constantly remind yourself why you do what you do and to remember that your practice’s effort will reflect your tournament results. That is why you should always be motivated to get to every ball and execute the best shot you can hit in a given situation.

PHYSICAL PREPARATION

Even when you desperately want to improve, if your physical preparation is at low level, you won’t be able to play well for many minutes in a row. Do your legs get tired pretty quickly? Are you breathing heavily after several intense rallies? These are indicators of poor physical preparation. Start working on these factors off the court and you will be able to give more while being on the court.

GOAL

We put more effort into activities that have clear purpose. If we do a tennis drill without knowing why we do it, it is normal that it won’t force us to give extra effort to execute all balls in the best possible way. That is why setting goals for each practice session is important to make sure that we are motivated from the first to the last drill and our quality of performance during training session doesn’t drop even when we get tired or miss a few more easy forehands.

NUTRITION AND HYDRATION

We can have great physical preparation, we can be motivated and have set goals, but if we don’t have energy for 2 hours of our training session, we will always face times of significant underperformance. Players have to keep in the tennis bag enough water to never allow dehydration, especially during outdoor season. If our body loses too much fluid, it starts to focus on protection from damages – not on maximum performance. Additionally, players have to take care of providing some energy to be able to play as well during the second hour of the practice as they do during the first 60 minutes. Bananas and energy gels are great sources of fast-absorbing carbohydrates that our body can use to provide extra boost for the next intense activity.

Tennis players spend a lot of time on training sessions, so it is crucial to make sure that these sessions have high quality. It is not necessary to have really long training every day, but if we decide to do this, we have to make sure that we are ready physically and mentally to play well the whole time. Always keep in mind that what you do during practice session will have significant impact on your tournament results, so you should really take care of how your next practice session looks, to be sure that you improve at the fastest possible pace.

Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach, currently working with a Top 60 ITF player, and founder of instructional website TennisIsland.us. Marcin is the author of Enjoy Tennis Blog and a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines. Moreover, Marcin was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA. 

MORE ARTICLES BY TENNIS COACH MARCIN BIENIEK:

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3 thoughts on “How to maximize quality of tennis training sessions

  1. Melissa

    Thanks for sharing the tips. I am looking to get training but I am not sure if I would benefit much unless I play with someone. By the way what would you recommend about how much someone should be playing weekly?

  2. Marcin

    Mellisa – It depends on the individual. Physical shape, personal goals, possibilities etc. If you are beginner I would recommend to start with 1 or 2 sessions per week. You will get the basics, see how you like it, how your body reacts after the activity and then you can stay with the current schedule or add new sessions. It is important to make the first step. After that everything will go smoothly.

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