In every practice I ask “what was your target?” or “what was your intention/goal/objective with that shot?”
At least one time in EVERY practice the answer is “I was just trying to get it in.”
You MUST have more than that as an objective. We try to get ALL shots in. I have never heard “I was
trying to hit the net.” You’re not going to achieve your objective with every shot, but every shot must have a goal or objective. “I was just trying to get it in” is not a good-enough answer.
Sample situation (all players are assumed to be righties):
You’re on the deuce side and being pulled into the alley with a low slice approach shot by the cross court baseliner. You’re stretching/reaching with your forehand. You get there, you make contact with the ball just about shin-high, just outside the doubles line, 6 feet inside the baseline. You miss. Somewhere. Or a more specific miss: you use a forehand grip, say eastern, and hit the top of the tape in the alley in front of you. Their point.
“What was your objective there?,” asks the coach.
“I barely got there coach! I was just trying to get it in!” answers Regina(ld).
How about the responses below?
“I didn’t get there quickly enough. I was slow to react.”
“I didn’t have the proper grip. I should have switched to a continental grip for easier lifting of the ball.”
“I was out of position and should have played defense instead of trying to pass them with a low ball down the line.”
Let’s go even crazier. And by the way, the day I hear an answer like the one below, if you’re one of my students, your lesson will be free. I’m hoping you’ll only respond like this in a pre-paid team practice.
The imaginary player below makes errors, but understands the situation (incoming ball controls, own and opponent court positioning), and crafts a response (interpretation of the difficulty of the incoming ball and the risk taken to respond, tactical objective/priority, recovery location). The player is also well aware of their own skill set when crafting a response and responds accordingly.
Get ready for the longest sentence in the history of tennis blogs. Apologies in advance.
“Since I was being pulled out wide and the cross court hitter joined her partner at the net (aware of your own and opponents’ court position) and
– the ball was difficult (interpretation of the difficulty of ball received), wide, fairly fast, low, and with underspin (proper recognition of the incoming ball controls), and
– since I was reaching for the ball and
– knew I was gonna make contact fairly low,
– I decided to play a low-risk defensive shot (deciding on the risk on projection).
– As I was moving I changed my grip to a continental grip, opened up the racquet face, and swung upward (technical adjustments to achieve the tactical goal) to lob the ball with low speed, some underspin, aiming for the singles line in front me, over the net player (projected ball controls decision). My goal was to neutralize their advantage and give myself and my partner time to recover (tactical objective and recovery location). l was hoping to get the ball over the down-the-line player or at least to where s/he would have to have to hit a high backhand volley while moving backwards.
– If my lob would be good enough to go untouched and bounce behind them, we would have turned the tables on them, moved up and looked to put away a lob.
– If my lob doesn’t bounce behind them at least s/he is hitting a high backhand volley that’s unlikely to win or press us very hard and we stay alive in the point.”
Don’t just try “to get it in.” Do you …uhmm… get it?
Let me know what you think in the comments section.
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