Originally Posted by JW10S
OK--here ya go. I relayed this in another thread but it applies here. When I finished competing and started coaching and attended my 1st coach's convention 1 of the presenters recognized me and brought me out on to the court. He said 'I've seen this guy play and he has a really good one handed backhand. But I always think one can get better. So what can he do to make an already good backhand better?' He then set up a target area and said 'let's see how many balls out of 5 he can land in this target zone.' I hit all 5 in the zone. The coach then said 'He can practice doing that all day, everyday, and he won't improve--because he can already do it'. He then made the target zone smaller--again I made all 5 shots. He made the zone smaller still--again I made all 5. This went on until finally the zone was small enough that I only made 2 of the 5 shots. He then said 'That's what he needs to practice to improve his backhand--and when he can hit all 5 there make the target smaller.' I use this in my coaching now.
There are a lot of players who have played several days a week for years and don't improve. Because they do the same things, stay in their comfort zones. It's like doing the same set of math problems over and over, you won't get better at math. When you practice you should practice things to don't normally do. Push yourself, test yourself. How hard can I hit and keep the ball in, how close to the line can I hit and not miss, how many balls can I hit in a row, etc.
It is, however, important to also stay in touch with the things you do well. But in my experience too many players play safe and stick with what they know they can do too much. So instead of playing safe in practice go for it--test your limits. That way in a match you know what those limits are. Practicing to safe targets will only get you so far.
Alright, thanks! That is helpful and something I'll work on. Come to think of it, our college coach used to make us hit cones or tennis ball cans placed in the corners of the service box when practicing serves. I didn't have the fastest serve but I used be able to hit a 1 foot box on the corners and target the body pretty consistently. That was 12 years ago + break, my serve placement sucks now. Time to start practice for smaller targets.
Anyways, I appreciate the advice. Now if only the other coaches would make some helpful posts from time to time...