Stroke Consistency

Seven Factors for Consistency in Your Strokes

“What, then, is the true Gospel of consistency? Change. Who is the really consistent man? The man who changes. Since change is the law of his being, he cannot be consistent if he stick in a rut.” - Mark Twain

Everyone, at some point in life, gets stuck in a rut.  But did you ever consider that even your tennis game can get stuck in a rut? Well, it can.

There are always good days and bad days on the tennis courts. But more often, we find ourselves feeling “I could have played better” then settling for “I suppose I could have played worse.” This is the point when you need to tell yourself to bring your game up a notch – to focus on a part of your game to improve, to get better. One way is to look at the consistency of your shots and work to be more consistent with your strokes.

Here are seven things to review that will enable you to build consistency in your strokes.

See the ball. Remember to watch the ball and follow it  – we’re all guilty of taking our eyes off the ball, looking to hit that winner, and then oooops! Missed it. Keep your eyes focused on the ball and connecting with your racquet. Lifting your eyes too early may cause you to pull up on your shot.

Be Ready Early. Get your feet set and your racquet into position early (before the ball hits the ground). By prepping yourself earlier, each time you hit the ball you strengthen your control over your strokes, thus improving your game.

Maintain a consistent level of contact with the ball. Using your feet, make sure contact with the ball is waist-high on nearly every stroke. This will give you the ability to control your shot as well as put more power into your stroke.

Hit the ball quickly. A moderately, or tentatively, hit tennis ball will not win points. Have confidence in your shot. Don’t forget that racquet innovations and string technology have amplified your shot, enabling quickness and power. Follow your form and hit the ball smoothly, quickly and with determination. Once you find your comfort level, you can then add more pace and topspin to your stroke.

Place the ball. Look to hit the ball with plenty of depth, within three feet of your opponent’s baseline – but don’t aim for the lines themselves. You’ll find that by giving yourself some space to hit the ball, you’ll actually have more control over your shots, you’ll gain consistency in your strokes and find that placing the ball will seem much easier.

Take Your Best Shot. Go with your stroke’s strength by concentrating on hitting the ball. Don’t worry about pushing the ball crosscourt or down the line. Keep it simple and just hit the ball.

Utilize Your Warm Up! How many times has life made us late? Do you leave work late and get to the tennis court for your weekly game only to find your three buddies already warmed up and ready to play? I bet you drop your bag at mid-court, grab your racquet, take the court and say “I’m ready, bring it on!” Yeah, we’ve all done this – many times. But one thing to remember is that if you take the time to utilize your warm up – to hit your strokes, to feel the ball meet the sweet spot, to push the ball over the net controlling placement, and to find your rhythm and timing – you will be more prepared for your match.

For the majority of tennis players, consistency is the best way to win. At the pro level, a flashier playing style may prevail over a consistent tennis game. However, the flashy game means hitting high-risk, precise shots that your opponent cannot return, and you must make these shots more often then you miss them, which takes a lot of skill. At the average club or recreational level, you have more of a chance to beat the flashy player with consistent strokes and keeping the ball in play, forcing the flashy player take chances and make more errors. Here, your basic strategy is to let your opponent make mistakes.

Keep yourself focused on your own game and find confidence and consistency in your strokes. By gaining consistency in your form and in your strokes, you’ll find your game will grow and improve.

“What is the most rigorous law of our being? Growth. No smallest atom of our moral, mental, or physical structure can stand still a year. It grows—it must grow; nothing can prevent it.” - Mark Twain

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