December 31, 2017
Happy New Year!
Most of us have this time of year to take off from a long tennis season where we have played multiple leagues and tournaments throughout the year. If you're ambitious to keep improving your game but want to stay fresh for the upcoming season, what is the best move? Let's take a look at some ideas that might help you get the most out of your off season!
Focus On: Technique and Footwork
Rafael Nadal did this on his serve years ago to improve his chances of winning on all surfaces rather than just clay. Roger Federer recently worked on his backhand that showed a lot of success in winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon. The offseason is the best time to learn something new in regards to technique and footwork that feels awkward and leaves you losing confidence in your matches. If you are not playing a lot of "high stakes" matches, consider working on improving or adding to what you have of your tennis "toolbox." For example, if you do not have a slice on the backhand side, now would be a good time to try it out. The time to learn something new as an adult takes longer than as a child so with the right amount of time and patience, you can develop a slice. This offseason might be the perfect time to do that.
Focus On: Strategy
Tennis is all about patterns and to start understanding what those patterns are will help you work on specific shots when it arrises in your match. For example, I like to do a short chip drop shot to my opponents backhand when they give me a short ball. I already can hit the ball deep so adding that will keep my opponent from anticipating where to be, keeping him or her off balance. Try thinking about what pattern puts you in the most trouble as well. Maybe high to your backhand is problem as it is for me. Simply hitting more of those balls will make you more comfortable when that specific shot happens in a match. Consider changing the direction of the ball so the pattern changes too. For example, if you can hit your backhand crosscourt your opponent will most likely hit the next ball crosscourt which is to your forehand (assuming you are right handed). Consider working on the placement of your serve and what you are doing to set up the next shot. For example if you are able to serve out wide to your opponent's backhand you could get an easy volley to come in on after your serve.
Focus On: Strength and Flexibility
The main reason American tennis player Mardy Fish improved his ranking in his 30s was his focus on fitness. Sloane Stevens talked about how her nutrition this year helped her win the U.S Open. This is the one many recreational players avoid. Range of motion is very important to avoid injury yet players tend to focus more on technique than this. Core and shoulder strength can also be a way to prevent injury and add more power on your strokes. I specifically have done a lot of one-armed work outs for my left arm to strengthen my two-handed backhand.
Above All: Avoid Burn Out
Tennis pros understand the need for rest both physically and mentally from tennis is important to ensure you don't get injured or burned out. The winter is a perfect time to rest so you can kick it into high gear when spring arrives :) Regardless of your situation, take advantage of the off season by either resting or focusing on specific elements of your game to be more prepared for your upcoming matches!
Introducing My Mom....
When I picked up tennis in high school I introduced to sport to my mom as well. She has been playing ever since and recently wants to focus on improving her game. She is coming off of an arm injury so here are the drills we did to help prevent those injuries from happening again. These drills in the video below also are good for players trying to get more racquet head speed. Enjoy and happy 2018!