Sam Cassidy, the tennis manager at our Levante Beach Resort on Rhodes, shares his tips for improving your tennis.
Sam been playing since he was 13 and started coaching at 16. In the UK he teaches at private schools and clubs around Brighton. He has also trained as a racket technician while coaching and working in sports shops so he’s the right man when it comes to recommending rackets and string tensions/grips.
• Know what you want. Is to to just be able to rally with your family, or do you want to play matches against friends or even for your local club’s team? Each one needs a different approach to learning, so decide early.
• Create a realistic target. If you’ve never hit a backhand before, don’t expect to hit winner after winner. Aim to get 5/6 balls in before you decide to add power.
• Get the right equipment. Too many people are playing with rackets from the Stone Age. UPGRADE. The equipment available now involves technology invented to help you, so don’t be scared to try new things.
• Bear in mind that the tension and style of your strings are very important to your game, even for beginners.
• Practice with purpose. If you haven’t played tennis for ages and decide you want to get back into it, having a knockaround with a friend is great and will get you desperate to get back on the court. BUT if you’re trying to improve your serve, for example, having a hit or even a match with a friend won’t do it any good because you aren’t repeating the shot enough. Go to the courts with a big basket of balls and repeat the shot you’re working on as many times as you can. Do it until the sun goes down/floodlights burn out – your muscles need to have the memory of doing it without having to think about it. Watch this video for more service tips:
• Play when you want to. Don’t go to your local club’s sessions if you aren’t really in the mood. You will be much harder on yourself when you make a mistake while not in the mood to play and this could put you off wanting to play so often.
• Learn with friends/in a group. Learning with other people near your standard, you become competitive whether you realise it or not. Comparing yourself to those in your group makes you feel fantastic if you’re improving quicker than others, or if you’re not, makes you eager to practise and improve. This is where Mark Warner Holidays are fantastic – our group tennis coaching brings together learners of similar standard with whom to practise.
• Separate training from matches. EVERYONE tightens up when it comes to matches, whether beginners or professionals. It’s a natural reaction. Use matches to decide what needs to be worked on in your spare time, then work on it. The worst thing you can do is improve your technique through training then revert back to your comfort zone whilst playing matches. Your coach would be ashamed!
• Pay for a coach’s time. Group lessons are brilliant, but everyone needs some one-to-one attention from a professional. Sometimes it’s a case of holding the racket a little more tightly or softly to improve a stroke, and this is unlikely to be picked up in group training. Private lessons also allow the coach to tailor the structure for you. If you need work on your service action, he or she can study and analyse it without any distractions. If you’ve never had private lessons, give it a go for a few weeks – you’ll be astonished by the improvement. Check our our coaches’ tips for the perfect volley.
• Bear in mind that practice makes BETTER – nothing is perfect, especially in tennis. Don’t expect to hit shot just right every time. Tennis is about learning the correct way in lessons to be more able to adjust to the constant variation of how the ball is coming towards you. Once you have been taught something, practise practise practise – your muscles won’t remember the right way to do it unless you do it enough. To be able to adjust with minimal thinking, it is important to hit as many balls (in the correct way – in a lesson) as you can.
Read more about tennis and other sports available on Mark Warner activity holidays.