Tennis Tips
Quick Tips
Watch the ball.                 
Move your feet.
Don't think.

Start like a backboard and hit to big targets for the first few games.
Play relaxed and focused rather than relaxed and loose.
Exagerate the follow-through motion when tense to stop trying to over-control the shot.
Shorten your strokes to adjust to the pace of a hard hitting opponent quickly.
Keep a better opponent on the court as long as possible. Do not rush to lose.
Avoid the temptation to overhit when you are behind.
Be aware of your intensity level. Play at 75%. Play at 90%.
Formalize your serving ritual. Pause and repeat when not sure.
Breathe out on contact.
Never double fault at 40-love.

More Tips
Watch the ball. No, that's not right. WATCH THE BALL! It is harder to watch the ball than to estimate it's future position, so we tend to stop watching the ball before making contact. Better accuracy will be achieved by focusing on the ball right into the moment of contact. This takes practice. Keep your head down. There will be plenty of time later to see where the ball went.

Move. Avoid leaning or stretching to reach a shot. There is a natural tendency to try to conserve energy, but in tennis you need to combat that tendency to maintain your intensity. Two primary tips are helpful here: "move your feet" and "stay on your toes." These will give you time to get in proper position. You will play better if you work harder to get in a good position for each and every shot.

Stop thinking. Save that for practice. It is time to let what you have learned come out. Focus on breathing or nothing at all. Or hum a favorite tune. Still your mind but pay attention. When playing your best you will feel like a detached observer. Players describe that feeling as being "in the zone."

Breathe. Breathing relieves tension. Focus on your breathing when your mind starts to wander or race. Taking a deep breath will help you relax before you serve and while preparing to return.

Play relaxed. Rallys often end when one person gets out of position and is forced to go for a big shot. Surprisingly, these shots go in more often than would seem reasonable based on the normal level of play. When stretched to the limit with few options left and very likely to lose the point anyway, the player swings with a “nothing to lose” attitude that causes them to be relaxed, allowing execution without doubt (conflicting muscle tensions) intervening.

Trust your learned patterns. When learning, our brains form neural patterns that provide bursts of integrated control commands that are far too complex to execute consciously. When you try to consciously control a shot, you suppress the learned pattern.

Keep the ball in play. It is tempting to go for winners early in a point, especially when you are tired. Keeping one or two more balls in play can often net you a better oportunity to go on offense or extract an error from your opponent. Save the big shots for practice and when you are out of options.

Stay composed and upbeat when tired. Putting up a good appearance can unsettle an opponent and make them try for bigger shots than they should.

Maintain a positive attitude. There is a train of thought in tennis that goes: "I missed that shot. I played badly. I'm a bad player. I'm a bad person. Life sucks. I just want to go home." You can be losing badly and still have a positive attitude, although it can be tough when you are missing shots you would normally make. Relax and enjoy the day. Commit to playing as well as you can, being consistent, and perhaps learning something. You will eventually be making all the shots you would normally make.

Focus on the present, not the future. When you start thinking "what happens if" about the next point, it tends to escalate to the game, the set, the match, your self worth, what others think of you. It all creates tension and prevents care-free execution. Breathe, clear your mind, pay attention.

Maintain your composure. Anger can make you hit out fearlessly or recklessly. It can help you refocus but often causes poor shot choices. Seeing your anger can give your opponent more confidence.

Have fun. When you are behind and feeling discouraged, ask the question, "Do I enjoy playing or just winning?"

Increase your intensity level to play better. When you are behind, tell yourself to put just a little bit more into every shot; not necessarily go for winners, but just do a little more. This will help you concentrate better so execution will be improved.

Watch for regression on the serve. When we started playing tennis, we tossed the ball out in front so we could aim at the service box beyond. Later we learned that it was more effective to toss the ball more directly above our heads. When a player starts faulting, it may be because they are reverting, typically characterized by a toss that is too low and/or too far out in front. This usually happens under stress or when tired, and it may not be easy for the player to recognize. The player just knows that something is wrong because serves are not going in.

Before each serve, create a mental picture of the racquet striking the ball and the ball trajectory. The more details of serve execution included in the picture, the better. You want the composite picture to become your learned pattern so you can execute without thinking about specifics.

Practice the second serve. Vary placement, pace, and spin. The first serve will develop naturally from the second by small changes to pace and spin. If you mainly practice hard first serves, your second will suffer and you will be at a loss when your first stops going in, as will inevitably happen from time to time.

Trust your second serve. There is a tendency to ease up when stress increases and you "have to" get the next serve in. But easing up will tend to change your second serve learned pattern. Accept some double faults as your consistency increases. 

Get ready for the service return. Avoid the temptation to rest flat-footed. Get up on your toes and shift your weight from side to side as your opponent begins the toss. Watch the toss carefully as it will often indicate the direction of the serve, allowing you to react even before the ball is struck.

Win the first point. There is a tendency to be less attentive on the first point of a game, especially if the last game was difficult. Don't fall into that trap. The first point is the most important. Whoever wins the first point has a huge advantage and will likely win the game.

Recover quickly. Regardless of how good a shot you hit, start moving. Even if you have nowhere to go, act like you do so your opponent has to think.

Practice playing like a pro. You will not know whether you can hit the ball like a pro until you try. If you keep swinging easy and safe, you will not develop more aggressive shots. By practicing harder shots, your previous best level of play will become your standard level of play.

Richard Branson asked Rafael Nadal for a tennis lesson. Nadal said: "Watch the ball and move your feet."

Submitted Tips
When the ball is coming at you, say to yourself: "Big Ball - Big Ball." This will help you focus so the ball will appear to be bigger.
- Nancy D.

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