7 Things Beginner Tennis Players Do Wrong
There's no denying that the first few times you step on the tennis court is intimidating. Seeing a fuzzy rubber ball hurtling toward you at speed can be scary. Then trying to make contact with at and at the same time control it into the court is not easy! Because of this, most beginners have the tendency to panic. This causes one main type of response...rushing toward the ball. Rushing at the ball has multiple negative effects such as being too close to the ball, having less time to prepare and contacting the ball too high. Also the extra energy expended from being anxious and rushing around the court drains your resources fast.
Tip: Try staying back behind the baseline and letting the ball come to you. Even if you let it bounce twice to begin with, don't panic. Try staying calm. You will quickly realise you have more time than you think to hit the ball back and that there's no need to panic.
Open The Racket Face
The three most common reasons why beginners hit the ball high are:
- Holding the wrong grip
- Gripping the racket too tight
- Hitting the underside of the ball.
The result is an open racket face which will send the ball flying upward and most often out the back.
Tip: Visualize striking right in the center of the ball as it travels toward you. If your strings are too open then you will strike the underside of the ball causing it to go up. You want to strike more on the back of the ball to make it travel forwards.
Take Their Eyes Off The Ball
This is one of the quickest fixes with a little practice. Watching the ball seems simple, but it's surprisingly harder than you would think. Often the urge to look at your opponent or space pulls your eyes up and away from the ball. The result being a mishit, a full whiff or lifting the ball out the back as you pull your head up.
Tip: Practice rallying by yourself on a wall to get used to watching the ball. That way you have no distractions in front of you. Once you have got into the habit you can try with an opponent on the other side to see if you can maintain your focus.
Play With Other Beginners
When you become more advanced it's important to practice with all types and level of player. After all, you could meet anyone in a tournament. At the beginner level, however, you will quickly get discouraged if you are spending most of your time picking up balls. It’s rare that two beginners will be able to get more than a few shots per rally.
Tip: Take a set of private or groups lessons to get you started. That way you can hit enough balls to improve your level. As a beginner the volume of balls you hit is very important. Another great way to do this is to rent a ball machine.
Only Practice Forehands
As a beginner the forehand is generally the most comfortable shot to learn. It's all too common to then rely on that and avoid practicing anything else. Don't let your forehand get too far ahead of your other strokes.
Tip: The TopspinPro is a great way for you to build your confidence and repertoire whilst practicing alone. Here's Ryan at 2minutetennis.net showing some great ways you can practice at home using your TopspinPro:
Hit The Ball Too Hard
Hitting the tennis ball hard is so so satisfying! But unfortunately at beginner level it’s not going to get you very far. Learning to control the ball is the number one objective. I get it, it’s not quite as fun, but you will improve so much faster.
Tip: Set yourself practice goals such as reaching rallies of a certain length. Adding some structure to your practice and bringing awareness to what you are trying to achieve will help you improve faster too.
Buy The Wrong Equipment
It's fun when you take up a new hobby to buy all the gear but it's important to get some advice from your local tennis pro about making the right purchases. Buying the equipment that your favorite player uses or the items that look the nicest can have long term consequences like injuries that are hard to shift. Tennis elbow is one of the most common resulting from poor racket choices. Ankle twists/breaks can also often come from wearing the wrong shoes.
Tip: If you don't have a local tennis coach or pro to help, do a little online research about current tennis products for beginners. Most of the major online tennis stores will have articles and reviews about what they sell. YouTube is a great resource too.
As a beginner it can be hard to know which mistakes you are making. Some are easier to recognize than others. A good way to get on track is to invest in a block of lessons (group or private) and get yourself on the right track. That way to coach can point out any obvious mistakes that may be holding you back and give you some direction for your practice. You can also record some videos of yourself and see if you can spot anything obvious.
We love to hear your feedback. Let us know in the comments below if any of these tips helped.
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