This weekend my high school varsity team played a tennis tournament. What I really enjoyed about watching the tournament is the ability to see multiple matches and gather an insight on each player’s strengths and weakness both individual and as a team (if they are playing doubles). Here are some examples of what I noticed.
The #3 singles loves to come to the net with slice but the problem is the slice doesn’t stay low. By having a stronger slice approach shot, he will have easier volleys to put away.
The #1 doubles team is consistent but volleys are a bit choppy, meaning they float. By having them stick their volleys they can put away more balls.
In the #4 doubles team, when person A returns, person B misses a lot of opportunities to put away the next shot. Also person A needs to shorten his toss to improve his consistency while serving.
Why am I giving you these examples? Just like the book 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More With Less, there are areas each player can work on that are very specific but will allow for the most improvement as a whole. This might be difficult to do unless you can gauge your performance from a third person perspective. This will allow you to be less judgmental of your game but rather observational, giving you feedback you need to pick what is needed for practice.
Here’s How To Do The 80/20 Rule: Think Strokes
There are two ways to think of applying this rule to your tennis game. Yes, we all want to have great strokes but focus more on the shots you hit a lot of. I would start with the serve and return. If you are dong well with those strokes, than move on to the next shot you hit a lot of. Keep going until you find a shot that you could work on that you hit a lot of. This gives you the most “bang for your buck” in practice time.
Here’s How To Do The 80/20 Rule: Think Situation
Sometimes it’s not the strokes that need work but the specific situation. For example, when I work on one of my players who is at the net after his partner hits a good return, we are trying to automate his thinking so he doesn’t have to think while trying to execute. By only working on his volleys in an isolated environment, he will have a hard time connecting them when he is in the situation to put a ball away after a great return from his partner. Think your groundstrokes are good? Try putting them to the test when you have to hit a ball after your opponent hits a great return or they come to the net on an approach shot. This will make it seem like your forehand or backhand is the culprit but most likely it’s getting used to the situation to execute the correct form. Once you get comfortable in those specific situations that are difficult, you will see some great results!
Want to increase your racquet head speed? Try this with a PVC pipe!