Tuesday, July 31, 2012

REFLECTIONS: Your tennis game as part of a plan and not the result of happenstance

While teaching a tennis lessons the other night to a 16-year-old junior preparing for her upcoming tennis season, I explained how the concept of gaining an understanding of how both technique and tactics are built can help her game in ways she could not even imagine.
    Let me begin with the notion of a "blueprint of strokes". Imagine for a moment that you are constructing a house, and even though you can envision it in your mind's eye, you have no blueprints or building plans to reference. With enough experience, you might do some things correctly and be successful. But I don't expect that the overall construction job will be well done. Then consider, that if something goes wrong with the electricity in the home, how difficult it would be to trace the wiring, junction boxes, circuit breakers, etc. without a visual roadmap of what was installed. Can the problem be fixed without the reference? Absolutely! Things can always be reverse engineered and figured out. But what is the cost in money, time and convenience? Knowing how something is constructed is the key to efficient troubleshooting and eventual repair. 
    Now let's apply this to a tennis court. Many players hit the ball by "feel" without any formal training or understanding of how racquets, balls and the court surface work together. When having a good day, players may have no idea "why". It doesn't seem all that important until they have a bad day. Then the "why" becomes very important. If one gains an understanding of how things are constructed, and they develop a visual blueprint in their brain of the components and how they fit together, tracking down a problem becomes much less of an inefficient and frustrating venture. Groundstrokes and volleys are fashioned, serves and overheads are built, strategies and tactics used in point play are constructed. The more we leave things to chance, feel, or plain old luck, the less chance we have of controlling our own destiny on the court.

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