by Greg Moran
January is traditionally a time for resolutions so here are five New Year’s resolutions for tennis players of all levels that we hope will help both your outer and inner games.
Learn a new technique
Pick something that you presently can’t do, or don’t do particularly well, and commit to mastering it over the next twelve months. Maybe it’s that Continental grip at the net your pro has been after you for three years to learn. Or, it could be developing an effective drop shot. Perhaps it’s getting fitter so that you can reach more shots. Learning a new shot or technique will not only make you a better player but it will also inject some excitement into your tennis. It’s a great feeling to work hard on a new technique and then use it to win a match.
Serve at least one bucket of balls each week
The vast majority of recreational players have weak serves. Many rely on the old “boom” and “plop” approach when they step up to the line to serve. They tee off on the first serve and when they miss it (which they usually do) the simply “plop” the second one in the court.
While this strategy may work with the “once a week” crowd, a strong player will eat you alive. Serve a bucket of balls each week. Forget about power and work on your placement and spin serves. If you can develop an effective serve, your game will immediately jump a level.
Invite a weaker player to play with you
The tennis snobs of the world will refuse to be seen on the court with a player they deem to be below them on the club’s totem pole. Resolve not to be a snob and, from time to time, invite a weaker player to hit with you.
When you’re on the court with them work on your control. Have you ever noticed that when you hit with a pro, you can seemingly keep the ball in play all day long? That’s because the pro, with his or her great control, can place the ball right where you like it. When you’re on the court with a weaker play, practice hitting the ball right to them so that they can hit it back or hit it to their stronger side so they can hit a strong shot back.
Contrary to the opinion of the tennis snobs, you can benefit each and every time you step onto the court regardless of who’s on the other side of the net. The greatest benefit, though, will be in knowing that you made someone else feel good about it. Do you remember how it made you feel the first time a stronger player asked you to hit with them? I do.
Bring a new player into the game
Sadly, we have become a fat and out of shape society. The national obesity statistics are staggering. Everyone has that friend or relative that is a couch potato and who’s only exercise is moving from the couch to the refrigerator. Commit yourself to getting a tennis racket in their hands and introduce them to the game that has given you so much. You just might save their life.
Commit to having fun!
Yes, I know, we all want to win but, in the overall scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter whether you win or lose a tennis match. John McEnroe is not waiting in the lobby to interview you after your big league or USTA win and you still have to take out the garbage when you get home.
Don’t get too wrapped up in what the scoreboard says. Enjoy the many things that tennis has to offer that have nothing to do with the score of the match. Enjoy the exercise, the camaraderie, the competition and the process of learning to become better. If you can learn to appreciate these things, you’ll be a winner every time you walk off the court.
Have a great year and play lots of tennis!