Tennis coach Marcin Bieniek, founder of Enjoy Tennis Blog, explains why focusing solely on power and speed can hamper your results and why developing variety can vastly improve your performance.
Watching how fast pro tennis player are hitting the ball, it makes it clear that power dominates modern game. However, should we train to hit the ball as hard as possible? Should we aim at the same target every time? Or is a better approach to go for variety?
Speed defines today’s professional tennis
There is no doubt that top players hit the ball with tremendous speed. Serves going over 200 km/h and forehand winners flying over 100 km/h are not surprising anymore, as we can witness every time we watch Grand Slam tournaments. Power is definitely one of areas that should be addressed in the long-term planning of player development. Everybody would be grateful to have a serve that brings two easy points per game or a forehand that is used to hit winners off every shorter ball that opponent delivers.
Emulating the pros is not always a good idea
Tennis is a game for everyone. Regardless of your our age, gender or nationality, you can always start your journey with this beautiful sport. The sport’s variety makes it suitable for everyone, but too often we don’t notice this variety on the pro circuit.
Players tend to look for quick responses and choose risky solutions to play “like professionals”. They forget that tennis is about effectiveness and not about playing spectacular shots. It is a great feeling to finish the point with the applause of the fans, but it is a much better experience to win the tournament and be proud of all the obstacles that you were able to overcome.
Reasons to implement variety in your tennis game
The question is: Should we train variety or should we play like everyone else? I don’t want to give you the one and only good answer. I believe that variety is beneficial and below you will find the reasons why I think so. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Read on and decide consciously.
When something doesn’t work
We would all like to always play our best, but this mindset leaves us disappointed many times over a year. Too many factors have an impact on our tennis game, so it is impossible to always “feel” all the shots and dominate the rivals. If we have only a handful of skills to rely on, we are limited. It means that when one of these skills doesn’t work as expected, we don’t have enough possible solutions to implement. The more skills we have, the more variety we can rely on to still play effectively and finish the match as a winner.
Different opponents call for different game
I love the variety of opponents in tennis. Players can be left-handed or right-handed. They can play one-handed or two-handed backhand. They can stay close to the baseline and hit really powerfully or work a few meters behind the baseline and expect the rival to make mistakes. Players can be short or tall. Since all our opponents are different, we need variety to be able to eliminate their strengths and capitalize on their weaknesses. The more skills we have, the better we can adapt to our opponent’s profile and prepare a successful strategy.
Competing on different surfaces
Tournaments are organized on clay courts, hard courts, carpet courts or grass courts. Every surface has unique characteristics that favor one group of abilities and limit others. To be able to adapt quickly and compete effectively on any surface, players need a variety of technical, tactical, physical and mental skills. If players are limited to just some strengths, they will be able to win only on one surface.
The aim of this article was to make you aware of the benefits of making your tennis game as versatile as possible. It is your choice how you see your career in the long-term. If you believe that working on many aspects will give you success in the future, stay patient and just work on your goal. On the other hand, if you believe that possessing a handful of skills is enough to make you successful, just continue that and lift another trophy!
Visit our Tennis Tips page for a lot more articles by tennis coaches. There you can learn how to improve specific shots and skills, handle pressure, adapt your game to all surfaces and weather conditions, choose the most appropriate tennis racquet, best strings, and much more.