How do I improve my consistency?

ogruskie

Professional
During a rally, I can hit 2 or so great forehand/backhand strokes, and the third time I usually hit it straight into the net or out.

I played a superb varsity player today. I would have stood a chance against him if I was more consistent, but I guess my impatience got the better of me...
 
The only way to be consistent is to position yourself in as close to the same place in relation to the ball, and make as close to the same swing technique for each and every shot, over and over.

The only way to accomplish those things is repetition. If you can hit one or two great strokes already then thats a great start. Now you have to get out and hit a thousand of them being aware of your mistakes and how to fix them so as to find and repeat the working stroke as often as possible.

Hitting a good solid shot consistently is the holy grail of both tennis and golf, it takes a great deal of technique knowledge, practice/repetition and focus to become good at. Some people are just great athletes and have high levels of coordination and awareness, most of us aren't that lucky, heh.
 

Vision84

Hall of Fame
You need a good rally ball to use, one with good topspin that goes 2-3 feet over the net and lands between the baseline and service line.

To counter impatience go into the match with a game plan. Here are some examples.
1. Hit to the forehand side, angling him off either getting the short reply or an open court opportunity for a winner. You can do this on the backhand side to.
2. Drop shot lob routine. Drop shot him and then follow it up with a lob and then come to the net to put away the volley.
3. Moonball it continuously till you get a short reply that you can put an approach shot off of and finish off with the volley. The other option is to rush the net and hit an overhead off a short moonball.

These are some game plans I use from time to time and have gotten great results from.

:edit: I cannot stress the importance of having a game plan enough. To many people just go into a match and just hit shot after shot without really having a plan ahead of time. Try and picture how you want the point to go in your mind before each point begins. It is like chess, try and think 2 or 3 shots ahead.
 
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ogruskie

Professional
The only way to be consistent is to position yourself in as close to the same place in relation to the ball, and make as close to the same swing technique for each and every shot, over and over.

The only way to accomplish those things is repetition. If you can hit one or two great strokes already then thats a great start. Now you have to get out and hit a thousand of them being aware of your mistakes and how to fix them so as to find and repeat the working stroke as often as possible.

Hitting a good solid shot consistently is the holy grail of both tennis and golf, it takes a great deal of technique knowledge, practice/repetition and focus to become good at. Some people are just great athletes and have high levels of coordination and awareness, most of us aren't that lucky, heh.
Funny...I just began reading your article "Watch The Ball!", and apparently that is what I am NOT doing. I focus on those first two shots, and my confidence inflates which makes me think, "This is lame, I'm just gonna do wtf I want and kill that ball!". That ultimately kills my consistency; not watching the ball.

Thanks for the advice.
 

Tennisman912

Semi-Pro
ogruskie,

In addition to the some good advice already given, I would say a big part of your problem is mental. If you can hit two good shots in a row, you can hit 10 or 20. Tennis is very mental. You are just not patient enough to rally as long as it takes to play smart and win the point. You get excited and what to win the point now. The importance of patience cannot be over emphasized.

The next time you play a match, do an experiment. Your goal is to be consistent and forget everything else. Keep it in 10 shots, preferably to your opponent's weakest shot. Never hit all out. The higher level players learn how to get maximum effectiveness out of the minimum effort possible. If you get a short ball you can be a little more aggressive but, above all keep in in play. You will be amazed in two ways. One that you can keep it in that long if you try and are mentally tough enough to grind it out and keep your patience. And two, you will win a lot more matches because your opponent will make an error before you get to 10 shots (probably before 5 shots).

Also keep track of your statistics at least mentally. You will realize quickly that you big swinging winner, while looking and feeling good, is costing you 5 or 6 errors to one winner (at a minimum probably). Hit that shot instead of all out, at say 60-70% and you will like your results and will lose less power than you think.

Good luck.

TM
 
Funny...I just began reading your article "Watch The Ball!", and apparently that is what I am NOT doing. I focus on those first two shots, and my confidence inflates which makes me think, "This is lame, I'm just gonna do wtf I want and kill that ball!". That ultimately kills my consistency; not watching the ball.

Thanks for the advice.
Both watching the ball and being consistent take a great deal of focus and discipline, its never an accident. Keep working hard!
 
ogruskie,

In addition to the some good advice already given, I would say a big part of your problem is mental. If you can hit two good shots in a row, you can hit 10 or 20. Tennis is very mental. You are just not patient enough to rally as long as it takes to play smart and win the point. You get excited and what to win the point now. The importance of patience cannot be over emphasized.

The next time you play a match, do an experiment. Your goal is to be consistent and forget everything else. Keep it in 10 shots, preferably to your opponent's weakest shot. Never hit all out. The higher level players learn how to get maximum effectiveness out of the minimum effort possible. If you get a short ball you can be a little more aggressive but, above all keep in in play. You will be amazed in two ways. One that you can keep it in that long if you try and are mentally tough enough to grind it out and keep your patience. And two, you will win a lot more matches because your opponent will make an error before you get to 10 shots (probably before 5 shots).

Also keep track of your statistics at least mentally. You will realize quickly that you big swinging winner, while looking and feeling good, is costing you 5 or 6 errors to one winner (at a minimum probably). Hit that shot instead of all out, at say 60-70% and you will like your results and will lose less power than you think.

Good luck.

TM
This is a great post, good advice.
 

ogruskie

Professional
ogruskie,

In addition to the some good advice already given, I would say a big part of your problem is mental. If you can hit two good shots in a row, you can hit 10 or 20. Tennis is very mental. You are just not patient enough to rally as long as it takes to play smart and win the point. You get excited and what to win the point now. The importance of patience cannot be over emphasized.

The next time you play a match, do an experiment. Your goal is to be consistent and forget everything else. Keep it in 10 shots, preferably to your opponent's weakest shot. Never hit all out. The higher level players learn how to get maximum effectiveness out of the minimum effort possible. If you get a short ball you can be a little more aggressive but, above all keep in in play. You will be amazed in two ways. One that you can keep it in that long if you try and are mentally tough enough to grind it out and keep your patience. And two, you will win a lot more matches because your opponent will make an error before you get to 10 shots (probably before 5 shots).

Also keep track of your statistics at least mentally. You will realize quickly that you big swinging winner, while looking and feeling good, is costing you 5 or 6 errors to one winner (at a minimum probably). Hit that shot instead of all out, at say 60-70% and you will like your results and will lose less power than you think.

Good luck.

TM
Thank you, that is very helpful.

Both watching the ball and being consistent take a great deal of focus and discipline, its never an accident. Keep working hard!
I'm definitely going to have to discipline myself into watching the ball ALL the time. "ball focus" will be something on my "To Do" list when I practicing hitting against a backboard.

:edit: I cannot stress the importance of having a game plan enough. To many people just go into a match and just hit shot after shot without really having a plan ahead of time. Try and picture how you want the point to go in your mind before each point begins. It is like chess, try and think 2 or 3 shots ahead.
I'm reading "Winning Ugly" which basically covers all that. Thanks anyway :)
 
If you want consistency then you need to practice hard and keep a cool head. Learn when to go for winners, don't try it on every shot. Focus on playing smart tennis, not flashy.

P.S. You should have watched the Agassi vs. Pajama Shorts Boy match, that was some inspirational tennis right there!
 
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I've got major tips...
1) you can add some spin to create a rally shot and then go for flat powerful strokes on a put away shot.
2) mix it up with some slices.
3)Build on your mental toughness, such as patience, and get more physically fit, which makes you allready know your fitter than the other guy and your capable of longer rallies.
4) go for basic shots, Such as deep crosscourt, because you have more distance to hit, and the net is slightly lower in the middle.
5) save down the line shots for winners, its just too low percentage if you don't have the game for it.
6) 1 more tip is get a topspin finish on your forehand for example brush up the ball and have your racket wrap around your waist, such as novak djokovic's, i think that's a good example.
TRY THESE, THEY WORK FOR ME, AND I DO BEAT SOME TOUGH PLAYERS. :D
 
I've got major tips...
1) you can add some spin to create a rally shot and then go for flat powerful strokes on a put away shot.
2) mix it up with some slices.
3)Build on your mental toughness, such as patience, and get more physically fit, which makes you allready know your fitter than the other guy and your capable of longer rallies.
4) go for basic shots, Such as deep crosscourt, because you have more distance to hit, and the net is slightly lower in the middle.
5) save down the line shots for winners, its just too low percentage if you don't have the game for it.
6) 1 more tip is get a topspin finish on your forehand for example brush up the ball and have your racket wrap around your waist, such as novak djokovic's, i think that's a good example.
TRY THESE, THEY WORK FOR ME, AND I DO BEAT SOME TOUGH PLAYERS. :D
Excellent tips! The one that REALLY stood out to me was the mixing the pace thing. Find a shot that your opponent doesn't like to hit. Some people rip shots off of heavy topspin and then shank all over the place when given a short slice, and vice versa.

Great advice!
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
The only way to be consistent is to position yourself in as close to the same place in relation to the ball, and make as close to the same swing technique for each and every shot, over and over.
But as Nadal points out in his book, no 2 shots are the same, and minute adjustments have to be made. The swing is basically the same, but the subtle differences need to be there for adjustment.
 

LuckyR

Legend
During a rally, I can hit 2 or so great forehand/backhand strokes, and the third time I usually hit it straight into the net or out.

I played a superb varsity player today. I would have stood a chance against him if I was more consistent, but I guess my impatience got the better of me...
Well your "great" shots have a 25-33% failure rate, so unless they are practically unreturnable, they are highly likely to lose you the point. Not so "great"...

I am sure you have a not quite so great shot that you can get in the court almost as many times as you would like (say <10% failure rate). This is where you start from. Groove that stroke well, then start adding pace to it as you keep the high consistancy. This will result in a high pace shot with a high consistancy.

Starting with a low consistancy, high pace shot and hitting it repeatedly, does not lead to it landing in the court all of the time.
 

andrewpmast

New User
Starting with a low consistancy, high pace shot and hitting it repeatedly, does not lead to it landing in the court all of the time.
I can't agree with that more. I thought that if I kept whaling each shot like an animal, eventually it would 'hone' into a tight perfected shot. Now, I'm realizing that's probably not going to happen... But, I'm having a hard time slowing down my swing. Slowing down has caused my balls to go higher or just hit the net. :cry:
 

LuckyR

Legend
I can't agree with that more. I thought that if I kept whaling each shot like an animal, eventually it would 'hone' into a tight perfected shot. Now, I'm realizing that's probably not going to happen... But, I'm having a hard time slowing down my swing. Slowing down has caused my balls to go higher or just hit the net. :cry:
Excellent reason not to slow your racquet head speed. Slow the pace of the shot by putting a higher percentage of the racquet head speed into spin, less into pace.
 

andrewpmast

New User
Excellent reason not to slow your racquet head speed. Slow the pace of the shot by putting a higher percentage of the racquet head speed into spin, less into pace.
Sorry, I missed this post. Wow, 15 hours a week, I never thought of that option! I always felt that the swing and spin were one fixed ratio. It sounds like you can mix/match the ratio. That probably explains why I try to make every forehand the same motion no matter how it comes to me, and why I hit so inconsistently!
 

LuckyR

Legend
Sorry, I missed this post. Wow, 15 hours a week, I never thought of that option! I always felt that the swing and spin were one fixed ratio. It sounds like you can mix/match the ratio. That probably explains why I try to make every forehand the same motion no matter how it comes to me, and why I hit so inconsistently!
Congratulations, you have now arrived at a higher level of tennis prowess!
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Sorry, I missed this post. Wow, 15 hours a week, I never thought of that option! I always felt that the swing and spin were one fixed ratio. It sounds like you can mix/match the ratio. That probably explains why I try to make every forehand the same motion no matter how it comes to me, and why I hit so inconsistently!
yes, this above from Luck and you are likely off balance a bit by reaching for
balls at times when you could just take a couple of steps to be more stable.
Sometimes you don't have a choice, but often reaching is just a bad habit &
lazy movement.
 

checkmilu

Rookie
There're some good advices been mentioned but I would like to add a couple of crucial things:

1. watching the ball is not as important as watching your opponent's racket: by paying attention to what your opponent has done to the ball help you recognise the comming balls very early. watching the ball at contact is important but you won't be able to adjust at the last second. imho, watching your opponent's racquet is as if not more important to the quality of your shot as looking at the ball coming & at contact.

2. However all those things won't help you be consistent in a competitive match if you miss out the following which I think is the single most important thing to continually execute "good shot": it's the ability to "mentally reset". during a rally your mind is not only working on controlling your shots, it has to multi-task with reading your opponent, pushing your physical limit, imposing will to win, dealing with various elements, after a string of 2-3 shots the mind is overloaded that it has to release the pressure by letting you hit a wild shot which will result in an unforced error. To overcome this a player must have techniques to "reset" both mentally and physically. One of the critical move to help you reset is the split-step. The hopping move is not just a technique to help change direction but also help release the stress caused by the effort putted in the last shot. It help the mind treat the next ball as the first ball, every time. Pro players may not only split-step once but a few times if they have enough time. It help them feel fresh after every shot. Most rec players are just flat footed between shots and not aware of the need to reset and treat every ball as the first ball. Try this and you will see your consistancy improve dramatically.

Good luck and enjoy your tennis :)
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I went looking for table-tennis practice videos as the back and forth is faster than it is in tennis and you can see the focus and concentration required is greater because you have to react faster. Here are a few pretty young kids doing drill-work.


A friend of mine did some coaching of our High-School #1 player several years ago and we were trying to work on his consistency. We were hitting two-on-one against him and his goal was to hit ten shots into the backcourt. It was quite amazing that he had trouble getting to two or three. He had nice strokes, good serve, was very fast, etc. but he hadn't worked on certain kinds of consistency drills before.

When you practice, try keeping the ball in play for ten, twenty, thirty or more shots (you need to tell your practice partner that you're trying to do this). Focus on watching the ball, footwork so that you can hit the ball with the same body motion, and targeting the same position each time and just do it over and over and over again. Make keeping the rally going the goal - not putting it by the other player.
 

PMChambers

Hall of Fame
Not sure how anyone can comment with out seeing you hit. Maybe technique, maybe mental, maybe shot selection, maybe movement, who knows.
 

geca

Semi-Pro
dollars to donuts there are technique problems. distance to the ball is only one aspect. but most amateurs have the hands doing the wrong thing, and it will be impossible to be consistent, no matter how much practice you take, or how much you watch the ball.
 
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