I am often puzzled by the way some coaches carry out their tennis training sessions. They like to give rally drills and get the players to execute them. Some examples of the drills are consistency drills (rally 20 shots, 30 shots etc), cross court rally drills and so on. When it comes to practicing their serves, the players will just serve the ball over and over again. The ending part is usually match play among the players and very little match analysis done with the players. Nearing the competitions, they are still doing to same things.
Do you think these tennis training sessions are effective to prepare a player for competition?
In my opinion, there are A LOT more that can be done to help the players!
The tennis game is all about SITUATIONS . If a coach does not break down the game and get the players to practice according to different situations, then the players will learn nothing from the drills.
For example, tennis serve is a situation where you are starting the point. I would get the players to practice their serve with a score in mind so that they understand how important it is when they are serving for a game point or when they are serving at break point. They must feel some kind of pressure when they are serving. I would also tell them to have a mental picture of where they want to serve and place targets for them to serve at.
For court drills, I would include basket feeding and each series of feed represent a different situation. For example, they may need to hit 4 cross court shot to attempt to open up the court and then hit one down the line to finish the point. If they are learning passing shots, I would get a passive net man to act as a target so that the players can have a feel of hitting past the net man.
For match play, rather than getting the players to play freely, I would want to have players play against different kinds of opponents. For example, one player must play like a pusher so that the other player can learn how to be patient, commit less unforced errors and look for opportunities to attack against a pusher.
Many coaches tend to do the easy way by giving some tasks to the players and let them discover on their own.
In my opinion, all these tennis situations need to be deliberately planned and explained to the players. In this way they will be better prepared and do better for competitions.
Wet Weather Days
Wet weather days are common these days. If tennis coaches are going to spend the whole session doing fitness work, e.g. push ups, lunges, ladder drills etc with the players for the whole session, I think the coaches are not utilizing the session effectively.
It is true that fitness plays an important part in tennis. However it should be kept to about 30 minutes to 45 minutes. NOT THE WHOLE SESSION!
Use the rest of the time to do tennis related activities. For example, practice the serve toss, do soft volley drills to improve their touch etc. If possible, watch videos and discuss about tactics or analyse their personal strokes. In this way, the players will not feel upset when they next rainy day comes because they are always learning something new.
Effective tennis training sessions need to be planned ahead. Tennis coaching is not an easy job as some people may think. If we want to improve the standards of tennis, then coaches should spend more time reflecting on their tennis training sessions.
Do you agree with me? If you have feedback or comments, feel free to share with me.