Professional tennis players practice what they do thousands of times each week. To do what they do demands hours and hours of work with their physical training and also a determined mental approach to their style of play.
Teaching pros and coaches must determine that each level of play must be taught in a manner of what they can do and the amount of time they can devote to tennis.
At the IMG Academy, the new tennis director Rohan Goetzke is fully aware that all 225 of its full-time students are different in so many ways.
His approach is different depending on who he is working with. Rohan's tennis staff work together on a daily basis to determine how they can reach another level of excellence based on what they can do.
The coaches and the students will find out their strengths and weaknesses and for the most part do not copy Maria Sharapova's loop-d-loop cowboy follow through on her forehand; the excessive racquet head speed of Rafael Nadal; and certainly not sliding on a hard court like Novak Djokovic does.
Back in the '80s I taught the swinging volley--you swing at the ball when it is shoulder height-- to Jim Courier, Monica Seles and Andre Agassi.
Andre did just the opposite and did his own thing: the sling shot swinging volley with the level of the ball below his knees. Can you imagine what would happen if the everyday player copied his swinging volley?
What Recreational Players Should Copy From the Pros
First, consider that pros play tennis for a living; pros spend endless hours both on court and off that gives them a foundation to do certain shots that they repeat every day; and finally, pros have different physical builds, grips, swing patterns, stances, positions where they hit their ground strokes from as well as strategy and styles of play.
Don't try and copy the unique aspects of any pro. Instead, pay attention to these elements of their play:
1. Look how they warm-up (the 5 minute time allotment);
2. Look at their warm up serves;
3. Look how consistent they get the return of serve back;
4. On a second sort of push serve observe how the receiver takes advantage of it (ex. Serena Williams);
5. Observe what they do after a long point;
6. Observe how big their targets are versus going for the lines;
7. Observe how effective the drop shot was (probably the biggest weapon at this year's Open);
8. Watch how they try to break the rhythm of their opponents with slices and deep high shots with spin.
Other Lessons You Can Learn From the Pros
The most important aspect in the game of tennis today is about how you move your feet. (Just take a look at the pros) After you hit, recover back to a position to get to the next ball.
And finally, don't make excuses or show negative emotions; and do fight for every point no matter what the score is. Bjorn Borg once told me the most important thing is to hit the last ball, and do whatever it takes to make that possible.
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