I see a lot of posts here downplaying the need for coaches and lessons. I fully understand if there are some who are totally anti-authoritarian and prefer to do their own path at any cost. But there are many people, myself included, who have realized the benefits of lessons with qualified coaches. But, many people don't fully understand how to benefit from them. Here are a few pointers I have learned: 1. Use the coach for instruction, not as a sparring partner. A good coach will show you good form, but it is a waste of his time and your money to keep him occupied with your practice. A lesson should be followed up with a lot of independent practice with a ball machine, a wall, or an sparring partner who understands that you are trying to improve some element of your game. 2. Don't keep a rigid time schedule for lessons. I take a lesson and then go out and do independent practice until I got it down, or I run into difficulties, and then I call for another lesson. On the subsequent lesson, I let the coach see my improvement and have him see if there are any minor problems to correct. Then I move on to the next weakness in my game. So, you may find that you are taking lessons twice a month, or twice a week depending on how much independent practice you put in and how fast you want to advance. 3. Coaches are great for setting up combinations of play. Serve and volley, approach shots and net play, hitting a ball wide, then following up with a drop shot to the open court (a la Djokovic). Against a real opponent this is more difficult to learn properly, but a good lesson with a coach who feeds easy balls and helps you establish the footwork and everything else involved is very helpful. Then go out and practice against real opponents. 4. Strategy against different player types. Hate those pushers? Ask the coach to help you with techniques that frustrate those pushers. Its the same with how to react against moonballers. He can also help you react to better players, for example, how to keep better players from advancing to the net, or how to play against crushing baseliners. 5. Use the coach's knowledge of many different local players to suggest sparring partners for practice and good opponents for matches. For example, you want to improve your passing shots so he can suggest a few sessions with someone he knows who loves to rush the net. Or if you want to improve your return of serve, he can suggest someone with a great serve. 6. You do not have to marry your coach. If a coach can't help you with any of the above, then find a better coach for that task. There is nothing wrong with using the services of more than one coach as well. One coach may be a great coach for baseline play, another for net play. Another may be a specialist in serves. In the end, a good coach and lessons are there only to help us advance more quickly, and safely, than we can on our own. They are just a tool that we have to learn how to use effectively and efficiently.