Four Causes of Errors in Tennis | What you can do to Minimize Mistakes


When you play a tennis match you’re
bound to make mistakes. This is true even at the highest level of the game. So
you’re not gonna be able to completely avoid making mistakes but what you can
do is try to understand what causes these mistakes and then try to minimize
them as much as possible. There are four main causes of errors and one of them is
improper technique and it can range anywhere from the wrong grip, the wrong
take back, the wrong contact point, or even a wrong
finish. And this can be a confusing subject because there’s many different
opinions on what the right technique is. What I recommend to my students is to
simply go by whether a new technique that they’re adapting is working or not.
You should see an immediate improvement in your control, if you’re picking a
technique that is correct. I’m not of the belief that a technique
takes a while to settle in. In other words you learn something new and then
you continue spraying the ball and making a lot of mistakes. That is
probably not going to change. You’re going to continue making these mistakes
and the technique that you’re adapting is probably not the correct one. So
simply go by feel if you pick something that makes sense to you and
it’s working immediately you’ll see an immediate improvement in your control
and then a gradual improvement in power that is probably the right technique for
you and you should stick with it. Another cause of mistakes is improper footwork
and this is a big problem at the recreational level. So even if you have
perfect technique but suffer with bad footwork you will make a lot of mistakes
because you will be not positioned correctly and you’ll be forced to
improvise. And it’s these improvisations in technique that are causing you to
miss whether you’re too far away from the ball this way. This is a cause of
footwork or it can be in a lateral way and both ways so you can even be you let
in the ball and get behind you and you improvise new technique and therefore
making a lot of mistakes. And the way you fix your footwork so that you don’t have
to improvise anymore it’s the number one have a lot of intensity with your
footwork. I see a lot of recreational players they’re kind of flat-footed as
they’re waiting for the next shot and you see high-level players they’re on
their toes they’re bouncing around they have an intensity in their feet that’s
constant no matter what situation they’re in in a rally. And more
importantly with a lot of recreational players suffer with is actually ball
recognition this is correlated with footwork. So in
other words let’s say I’m at the baseline and I’m expecting a deep ball
and now a short ball comes instead recreational players do not recognize
the ball being short and therefore they don’t move fast enough towards that ball.
See high-level players do not have problems with that
they recognize the ball really well and are able to make adjustments with the
feet accordingly. And the way you are going to fix your ball recognition is
simply by playing more and seeing more balls coming at you. It’s kind of like
driving. Imagine yourself being a novice driver and you’re pulling out of an
intersection and there’s a car coming at you and you don’t really judge the speed
of the incoming car correctly and you pull out anyway it almost cause a crash.
Experienced drivers however they can judge the speed of the incoming car
quite well and they know when to pull out on when not. And we can apply this
analogy to tennis. Experienced tennis players are quite good at judging the
incoming ball. They have seen many balls coming their way and therefore can
easily pick up whether the ball is gonna be high or low, whether it’s going to be
short or deep, whether it has spin or underspin and most importantly they can
easily pick up how fast the incoming ball is. And recreational players will
often misjudge the ball and therefore be out of place and this is why this is a
footwork problem that’s connected to your ball recognition. As you recognize
the ball better you will be able to adjust your feet and be at the right
place at the right time. Another cause of errors is shot selection and this is a
problem from the recreational level all the way to the elite level. So a lot of
players will go for the wrong shot at the wrong time. One example is going
for winners from defensive positions. If you do that if you’re trying to hit a
winner on the run when you’re out of position or if you try to hit a winner
when the ball gets behind you. You are going to make a mistake for sure. Another
example of the wrong shot selection is going for small targets. If you go down
the line too much you will make more mistakes but it’s probably wise to
direct the majority of your ground strokes cross-court because you’ve got a
bigger court to play in to. See the problem with hitting down the line is if
you are aiming down the line and you hit the ball a little bit late it’s gonna go
out. If you select to go cross-court and hit the ball late yes you will not get your desired target but at least the ball is
not going to go out it’s going to go towards the middle of the court. Another
example of the wrong shot selection is trying to finish the point off too
quickly whether you are coming to the net too much are you going for winners
too much you have to remember to be patient
and to go for a winner when the chance presents itself. Another example of poor
shot selection is playing too cautiously in other words pushing or steering the
ball or playing too far behind the baseline and maybe moon balling and
believe it or not the intention that you have by pushing the ball is to get the
ball into the court really badly but what happens in reality as you’re
steering the ball you’re making just as many mistakes as if you’re going for the
shot. And one tip that I can give you when it comes to shot selection is to
play high percentage tennis. Basically playing the majority of your balls
cross-court staying away from going down the line too much. Not playing overly
aggressive but also not playing overly defensive. Make sure that you hit your
balls at 75% pace and then when you get an opportunity to be more aggressive you
can go full blast. And if you follow those rules you will improve your shot
selection and therefore will minimize your mistakes. And finally another cause for errors in tennis is your mental game and I’m gonna give you some examples and
this applies to the recreational level all the way to the professional level. So
imagine yourself being down 30 40 it’s four five set point for the other person
you have to come up with a second serve and you double fault. Now this error was
simply caused by your tension. Or another example of your mind affecting
your mistakes is if you don’t try hard enough. So imagine you’re playing a match
and you really don’t feel like playing on that particular day so it kind of
lazy out there we’ve all felt like that so when we feel like that mentally we
are not gonna be able to play our best and we’re gonna make a lot more mistakes
therefore. So what can you do to not be so anxious the next time you play and
also how can you guarantee that you’re trying your hardest? Well first I want
you to understand why you’re anxious to begin with. So we as humans are animals
after all and animals have programmed in their genes to be very still and quiet
when a predator is lurking around. And this is why you see a deer for
example when it sees a car it identifies it as a predator and then instead of
running away it stands still. And you as a tennis player identify the person on
the other side as a predator and therefore still just like the deer is
when it’s stuck in the headlights and what you have to do is with all
professional players do and you have to move. Just think of Sharapova before she
does every service action she’s bouncing around and she’s not doing this
to get in shape or she’s not doing it for fun she’s doing it to loosen up to
fight her anxiety. So the number one thing that you can do to fight your
anxiety is to move around all the time. And when it comes to trying your best every
time you step on a court we can all take a lesson from Rafa Nadal because he’s
incredible he tries so hard every time he steps on a court. Now this is easier
said than done of course and you don’t have to be perfect there are gonna be
matches where you’re not feeling your best but let’s all try to take a lesson
from the great Rafa Nadal and try our best every time we step on the court.

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