New theory: doing drills is pointless above 3.5

socallefty

Legend
If you are happy with your current level of play, then by all means focus on matches. If you are trying to improve your game, you need drills/coaching, repetition, and more repetition.
Why does it have to be an either/or argument between matches and drills? If you like tennis and play a lot, it should be possible to do both. I take 1 lesson, play 3 or 4 singles matches, do 1 hitting drill session and play doubles 1-2 times a week. Doing drills with a good hitting partner is a lot more fun than running or doing other cardio to stay fit when not playing matches.

Unless I am doing a consistency drill, I usually hit much harder in lessons/hitting drills than in matches and slowly, my pace/spin in matches goes up as a result over time as my technique and movement get grooved at the higher speed. How can one learn to hit the ball harder and harder with accuracy without making errors if you play only matches? The only guys who think drills are pointless are the ones who have never been coached for a long time and have no direct experience with focused drills that are targeted to improve specific aspects of technique and footwork - plus, they probably don’t have good hitting partners.
 
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WB338

New User
Why does it have to be an either/or argument between matches and drills? If you like tennis and play a lot, it should be possible to do both. I take 1 lesson, play 3 or 4 singles matches, do 1 hitting drill session and play doubles 1-2 times a week. Doing drills with a good hitting partner is a lot more fun than running or doing other cardio to stay fit when not playing matches.

Unless I am doing a consistency drill, I usually hit much harder in lessons/hitting drills than in matches and slowly, my pace/spin in matches goes up as a result over time as my technique and movement get grooved at the higher speed. How can one learn to hit the ball harder and harder with accuracy without making errors if you play only matches?

I don't think it's an either or, necessarily.

Tennis isn't unlike any other sport at any level. The majority of the time is spent in practice. You don't become better in football, baseball, soccer, etc., by playing games. You hone your skills in practice to play a better game.

My daughter went through a great Jr. Academy and now plays in college. Perhaps 20-25% of the time is spent playing matches.
 

socallefty

Legend
Perhaps 20-25% of the time is spent playing matches.
When I was a junior that was probably true for me too. Thirty years later, the ratio is inverted with only 20-25% devoted to practice because I’m just trying to keep my level stable in spite of getting older rather than aspiring to get to a higher level.
 

Slicehand

Semi-Pro
Drills might be about technique, or might be not, what i take from drills is to feel the shot from that particular place on the court, so i really dont think is pointless, of couse what is gonna give you experience is playing matches, but you cant really train patterns or shots during matches, in matches you must use what you already know, pressure is different, feelings are different, even pros do mostly drills so there you go, ideally you need both
 

RVT

Rookie
My own $.02, for rec players on limited time they'd probably be best off mixing in more practice point sets (no serve, neutral balls until the 3rd ball, first to 21), along with an agreement to play any out balls you can reasonably reach. You'll end up hitting about 60-80% more balls this way than playing a conventional set--particularly when you get up in levels and the points get shorter due to bigger serves.

Obviously you have to practice serves and returns, but honestly I think there are better ways to practice both of those strokes than match play.
 

socallefty

Legend
Btw, most of Roger's drill shown in the vid were for movements, not necessarily for swings.
Cool drills. Most of them seem designed to build lower body strength, agility, reflexes, hand-eye coordination etc. Now we see that Federer makes many things look easy because he puts work into it. I’ve done a couple of these drills myself and see my coach training juniors frequently with many of them.
 

Clay lover

Hall of Fame
My own $.02, for rec players on limited time they'd probably be best off mixing in more practice point sets (no serve, neutral balls until the 3rd ball, first to 21), along with an agreement to play any out balls you can reasonably reach. You'll end up hitting about 60-80% more balls this way than playing a conventional set--particularly when you get up in levels and the points get shorter due to bigger serves.

Obviously you have to practice serves and returns, but honestly I think there are better ways to practice both of those strokes than match play.
100% with you on this. Rec players who want to join tournies need the most time on match setting balls and need them most badly. So many recs fail to translate what they do in practice and drills to matchplay so why occupy your time with them if you can't adapt to real balls in a match.
 

pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
Cool drills. Most of them seem designed to build lower body strength, agility, reflexes, hand-eye coordination etc. Now we see that Federer makes many things look easy because he puts work into it. I’ve done a couple of these drills myself and see my coach training juniors frequently with many of them.
Yea, tennis is a lot to do with lower body strength for sure, it is not really about how hard you can swing with your shoulder, back etc.
 

Hit 'em clean

Semi-Pro
Does a musician not practice? Do you ever hear any musician say to get better I only play concerts? No they are painful about practice... practice and drills will always get you more.

A player that practices a lot IMO has a much higher ceiling and better chance to improve and win matches than a player that just plays matches. Even a 3.5 level player... my strong advice would be to practice more. A major reason why most 3.5's don't improve has more to do with their lack of tennis ability which has a negative impact on their match play.

If you're happy with your current tennis level and game... sure playing matches might benefit you more in the short term, however, it can be very good or very bad. The false assumption a lot of people are making is that you will obviously improve playing matches. Trust me you can get far worse as a player... just playing matches. If a player starts losing a lot that can destroy their confidence and their strokes. Practice/drills are as old as time and the best way to provide improvement, maintain improvement, and to get you to your closest best tennis self. Lots of drills are about strategy and pressure situations, simulating games, points, etc. You can practice match play situations... it's not the same as a real match... but you still practice it. Matches... like the stock market can make you or destroy you... practice will always make you better.
 

jga111

Hall of Fame
Couldn’t disagree with this post even more. And the pros themselves disagree by pure evidence of their practice and drills sessions on YouTube.

In matches you will only play shots and tactics you fully trust - understandably so. You get that from practice. Unless you wanna ride your loses which will damage your confidence in the process…
 
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