Minimum number of practices per week to "get better"?

initialize

Hall of Fame
I can't remember exactly where I heard this (I think it was the 2minuteTennis channel from Youtube), but I've heard a couple times that in order to get better at tennis that you "need" to be playing at least 3 times per week, and that playing only 2 times per week will only "maintain" your current level but won't make you progress further. How true is this? I try to practice at least 2 times per week for 2-4 hours at a time, but of course there are other weeks where I only play once, or not at all.

When I'm not practicing, I always try to watch new tennis tips videos, workout/exercise at the gym, etc, so I feel like I'm still progressing despite not playing.


That being said, do you guys feel there is a minimum amount of time required per week to progress your tennis skills, whether it's a certain level of frequency or duration?
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I can't remember exactly where I heard this (I think it was the 2minuteTennis channel from Youtube), but I've heard a couple times that in order to get better at tennis that you "need" to be playing at least 3 times per week, and that playing only 2 times per week will only "maintain" your current level but won't make you progress further. How true is this? I try to practice at least 2 times per week for 2-4 hours at a time, but of course there are other weeks where I only play once, or not at all.

When I'm not practicing, I always try to watch new tennis tips videos, workout/exercise at the gym, etc, so I feel like I'm still progressing despite not playing.


That being said, do you guys feel there is a minimum amount of time required per week to progress your tennis skills, whether it's a certain level of frequency or duration?

Really depends on what you are trying to progress. Playing a lot certainly helps with tactics, anticipation and timing. Stroke development, especially that which needs old muscle memory to be overwritten, takes thousands of reps and not necessarily "playing".
 

socallefty

Legend
If you are a beginner, you need to play more often. The more advanced you are, you can play less and still keep tweaking your game in minor ways to improve.

The main factor that determines rate of improvement is how focused you are in practice to work on specific improvements needed and also whether you are getting proper guidance/feedback from a coach or advanced player to help with that. If you are trying to improve on your own, you have to videotape yourself and need to be able to analyze different body parts (leg position, knee bend, hip/torso rotation) and stroke sequence (take back, swing, follow through etc.) systematically and compare to textbook technique videos you are studying. Footwork is a big part of improvement and that is also hard to work on without guidance. Serves are also a very complicated stroke sequence and it is hard to learn a high-level serve without guidance.

Playing matches before getting a good foundation of technique/footwork (maybe 1000-1500 hours) might be detrimental to developing high-level technique and during the early stages, match hours should not be considered as practice hours as they don’t help. Once you have a decent foundation, match play is needed in addition to practice to learn how to win, play favorable point patterns highlighting strengths/minimizing weaknesses, playing under pressure, closing out games/sets/matches etc.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Bionic Poster
Three times a week has been the rule of thumb for tennis and many other activities. Particularly when you are first learning tennis skills. This has been the general wisdom for decades.

if you can only make it out to the courts twice a week, all is not lost. You can spend a third day, or more, performing proper shadow swings and engaging in visualization. Mindfull visualizations can be very powerful. In addition to third person visualization you can also do some first person visualization.

Lastly, spend some off-court time watching some videos of high-level play. For some good 80s/90s classic-style play check out players like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. For more modern play check out Roger Federer, Justine Henin and other top players of the past two decades. You might also watch some of the matches of Leylah F and Emma R in the last US Open
 

ohplease

Professional
I've also heard two times a week to tread water, three times a week to get better.

That said, not all sessions are created equal, and not all players make the most of their sessions. You can easily go out everyday and not improve at all.
 

Mongolmike

Hall of Fame
Are you's talking 2 or 3x a week play or practice? Because l know a bunch of people who play all the time, but never practice, and they never improve.

I think if you practice-play-practice-play during a week, that might be beneficial to tweak your game.

But matches are not the time to try something new or different....and particularly if it is something major like learn a kick serve or switch to 2hbh. That has to be practice time....for months.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
If you have played twice in the past 10 years, once a year will show progress.
If you got to 4.0, 3 times a week is breaking point between progress and maintainance.
 

RatedPG

New User
I only play once a week in the Winter and twice a week during the Summer. But, my goal is to maintain and not necessarily to improve. I find that to be enough.
 

weelie

Professional
In general, to improve at any skill, better to do it on more days (per week) than doing it more at one time.

Personally, I always felt once a week is to maintain, twice or more to improve. Having now played 3-4 times a week for a few years, I tend to feel that 2 times a week is not sufficient anymore...
 

antony

Hall of Fame
I read this last night
If I were a coach, I would loathe coaching hapless adults
Or, I would do it, and accept that it's a complete waste of time, as far as results go.
Adults simply can not learn this game, the way it's meant to be played.

There is nothing wrong with a coach not liking to work with adults.
It is a total waste of time, in 99% of cases.
Once you coach real players, juniors, who play SEVEN days a week, it is hard to take a bunging adult seriously.

You need to be young enough to train 5x a week.
You need to have the schedule of a teenager or retired guy
Yet, you to have $1000's to invest in tennis development

This is a perfect storm Venn diagram that not even 1% of rec players have.
And 1% of the 1% even understand that coaching is the ideal way to build correct strokes.

I have made above average strides in my strokes, and I don't even take myself seriously.
Just a sad hapless adult in the quest for 4.0 game. Too little, too late.

There is massive self-delusion in tennis.
Even after several years of work, I doubt I will ever reach the next level, and it is mathematically impossible for anything beyond that.

Therefore, for me, the process is the entire point.
Outcome based thinking will quit within a few months of lessons with no match results
(And still getting crushed by the 30 year junker with 2.0 looking strokes, LOL)

Want to fix your strokes? Playing 2x a week won't do it.
https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...-strokes-playing-2x-a-week-wont-do-it.591728/
 
I read this last night
If the coach doesn't know what to teach and how to teach it will be hopeless, a waste of time and money--most coaches understand that most players just want a good "sweat" out of their "lesson" and don't want to really change their game. There's a few who do like Antony--you have to find a coach who wants to teach and knows what to teach--they need to have been on the tour for about five years to be able to convey what competitive tennis is-- stick with him for a few years and learn everything they know --and then stick around for a few more years.
 

Enga

Hall of Fame
Whether there's an arbitrary number to it or not, there's more factors than just wanting to improve and playing a lot.

I'd say if you're extremely patient, and know how to get GOOD practice, you could practice once a week and still see improvement, so long as every time you do practice, you're trying your best to improve, giving it your 100% attention. You also need to be able to analyze your own abilities, and understand where you need to focus, then use patience and problem solving to tackle the problems. It's not so easy, but it's possible.

Another factor is physical ability, which is one of the biggest limiters in any sport. But for that, I'd say you can improve a bit at a time without having to actually play tennis. Pick a thing and focus on it while off court, cardio, grip strength, etc.
 

RyanRF

Professional
The answers are really all over the place:
  • Some people practice 3+ times a week and never improve
  • Some people practice 1x a week and keep getting better
  • Some people need to play multiple times per week just to sustain their level, let alone show improvement
  • Some people are physically limited by how often they can play due to lingering injuries and need for recovery time
The only hard recommendation I can give is to find a high quality coach to make the most of the time you have.

Also I would say that the higher level you are, the more often you need to play in order to improve. A 3.0 might get to 3.5 playing once a week with no lessons, but things are different once you get to 4.0+. This is one of the reasons why adult recreational players will hit a ceiling at 4.5. Real life w/ work, family, money, health, etc. doesn't allow the training time you need to get to the next level up.
 

antony

Hall of Fame
If the coach doesn't know what to teach and how to teach it will be hopeless, a waste of time and money--most coaches understand that most players just want a good "sweat" out of their "lesson" and don't want to really change their game. There's a few who do like Antony--you have to find a coach who wants to teach and knows what to teach--they need to have been on the tour for about five years to be able to convey what competitive tennis is-- stick with him for a few years and learn everything they know --and then stick around for a few more years.
There is definitely a difference between high quality coaching and average and below average coaching. I had a great lesson yesterday with a gentleman named PA Nilhagen and a 1.5hr lesson with him resulted in my clinic coach saying “Wow you got a lot better!” in my clinic afterwards.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Since most people are constrained by other factors, the goal should be to play at least once a week for an hour (both hitting and simulated points if not keeping score). It is not like most of us have time to spare but don't play.
 
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