Gene’s Tennis Tip May 2015: Practice with measurable results

Often, when on the ball machine, it is hard to stay motivated just hitting balls “in the court.”  To create a measurable result, you can work on consistency by counting the number of forehands you can hit in a row without missing.  Start with an easy goal like five in a row.  From there, progress to 10, then 20, until you can keep 50 shots in without missing.  Once you can do that, then try to put restrictions on the shots to make the quality better, like, if you don’t follow through, that shot is a miss, regardless of whether it goes in.  This will force your form to improve along with your consistency so that you’ll have a higher quality shot to go along with getting the ball in.
I know, you’re saying, Gene, I’ve never had a rally, especially in doubles, last more than 10 shots.
Here’s the issue:  whatever you do in practice, I maintain that the pressure, variables in spin and speed of different opponents, and constantly changing situations, create a drop in the quality of play you will exhibit in practice by at least 30%.  Results from a ball machine might be more drastic because machines have a pattern.  Matches are less predictable.  This is not hard science, just my personal observation from many years spent on a tennis court.  So, you must be able to hit at least 20 balls in a row off the ball machine before you can hit 12 in a row during a match.
Remember, consistency is your top priority (along with proper form).  Work first on consistency, then work on placement, then finally power.  You can, once very consistent try to make your balls hit the back fence in one bounce and see how many in a row you can keep in while hitting the back in one.  If you do fifty in a row that hit in one bounce, let me know, I want to videotape your workout!

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