When was the last time you walked onto a tennis court just to hit a few balls with a friend or practice partner without having a specific purpose in mind? To make the most of your court time, my advice is to use your practice time wisely. You would do well to remember this very important point – “aimless hitting” produces “aimless play”. Balls that are directed all over the court without target areas and ball placement in mind are really just uncontrollable shots being practiced. To make matters worse, the mind isn’t used in this form of practice either. When players choose to practice this way, just going through the motions of ball-striking aimlessly, they are really developing a recipe for disaster.
Focused players are usually driven by thoughts of reaching personal goals. They know what it is they are going after and channel in all their energies into attaining those goals. You probably won’t see these players hitting aimlessly or mindlessly because they are tuned in each time they walk on court. Their mission is to improve their games, and they realize that in order to do that, they must use their practice time to develop and improve their play. They are motivated and disciplined because they have become “goal-orientated”.
All tennis players, from the beginner to the advanced, should have goals set for themselves. Obviously the goals or aspirations of the players will vary with each level and individual, but it is important that every player set a direction to head for the sport. When setting goals remember that they must be specific, realistic, and above all, attainable. For example, if your ultimate goal is to play college tennis, set short and medium-range goals along the way to ensure success. Your short-term goals will provide the initial steps required to take you where you want to go with your tennis game. As I worked to make the college team I played for, my short-term goals were to practice daily with specific intentions in mind, while my medium-range goals were to make the high school team and to enter as many summer tournaments as I could. Once I accomplished these goals, I began to have a better idea of what it would take to play at the college level.
To achieve your ultimate goal, try to remember that practice should fun, exciting and challenging. Using and accomplishing short and medium-range goals can help you keep your interest levels high as you work toward reaching your ultimate goal.