How Elite Tennis Players Develop Their Skills 

Running out of Patience

Patience may be a virtue, but many tennis players become frustrated when they do not see quick and dramatic results from their practice and training sessions.

When they fail to see those immediate results, they conclude, “This new strategy doesn’t work,” or “I’m just not that good of a player.”

However, improving technique, physical conditioning, and mental skills is a process. Honing mechanics or building a strong mental game takes many hours of practice, implementation during matches, post-match evaluation, and adjusting your training plan.

Each step forward, whether small or unnoticeable, brings you closer to achieving your objective.

A collegiate tennis player who responded to our Mental Game of Tennis Needs Survey asked the following question:

“No matter how much I work on my game, nothing seems to improve. How can I stay motivated when I don’t see any improvement?”

Working hard with no visible reward can drain your motivation.

When you put in the work, week after week, you expect to see results. After all, you make a lot of sacrifices to be the best player you can be. Your schedule revolves around tennis. Practically every weekend, you play in tournaments.

When you see no significant improvement, you start to question why you push yourself in practice and spend extra time with your coach trying to refine your mechanics.

Just because you see no visible difference doesn’t mean you are not improving. Success is a multi-step process. Every step is not a step forward.

Sometimes, you will slip backward but know that every step pays dividends.

Remember when you first were learning to serve? How often did you miss the ball, serve the ball into the net, or hit it long? Even when you began to feel comfortable, you still made mistakes.

Even though staying patient and trusting the process are the keys to athletic success, it is easier said than done.

Most players need evidence to justify their effort and time. So, identifying small successes helps fuel your motivation and sustain your efforts.

WTA player Coco Gauff is a young, gifted player committed to maximizing her potential. Gauff has worked tirelessly to refine her technique. Gauff understands she needs to fix some weaknesses in her game to be consistently in contention for Grand Slam titles.

GAUFF: “I have been trying to work on my serve and playing it smarter, being more first serves in the court… And then obviously the forehand, it’s going to be a long process, but I do think the last couple of matches, it’s been helping me a lot, especially on the return.”

Skill development does not happen overnight. Progress is a process requiring that you:

  • Make a plan.
  • Follow the plan.
  • Tweak the plan if needed.
  • Be patient.
  • Trust the process.

Eventually, you will reap the rewards.

Tip for Skill Development

To stay motivated, find tiny improvements or signals that you are moving in the right direction. Recognizing small successes will help you stay motivated and persistent to build your mental and physical skillsets.

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Improve Your Mental Game for Tennis

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