Our Innate Ability to Play Tennis

Jeff Klein 2Jeff Klein
Director of Tennis, The Aspen Hill Club
Contact Info:  jklein@aspenhillclub.com

Topic: Our Innate Ability to Play Tennis

It’s simple — we all have the innate natural ability to play tennis. Humans have progressed to the top of the food chain by inventing tools that enhance our abilities to run, kick, catch, hit, and throw.  These feel good activities (and survival skills) evolved into most of the sports that we play.  Take the same athletic skill sets and apply different tools, rules, and playing field dimensions and you’ve got track and field, soccer, baseball, football, basketball, tennis, golf, etc.

To improve your innate skills requires progressive practice.  To learn to run, you first must learn to walk, which first requires that you can stand.  To learn to hit a tennis ball, the first thing you need to be able to do is make contact.

There are three basic reasons we make mistakes.  First, we’re human; second, lack of experience; third, we’re not paying attention.  Skill development is based on experience.  Another critical and completely overlooked component for learning a skill is awareness.  When swinging your racquet, are you thinking about hitting the point of contact or are you thinking where you want the ball to go after contact?  That is the most important intellectual tug-of-war players need to address.

If you aren’t making good contact, turning sideways, getting your racquet back early, taking small steps, watching the ball, and other coach based suggestions, will not help the process.

The three phases to hitting are moving, positioning, and swinging.  When moving, don’t turn sideways and get your racquet back early, just move as quickly as you can.  When positioning, don’t think about the length of your steps, just calculate how much you want to extend your arm when it’s time to swing.  When swinging, don’t think about the result, just deliver your hand to the chosen point of contact.  We are born with a great system of legs, arms and hands; what is required is using our minds correctly to achieve great things.

Remember that we were using our basic skills of running, kicking, catching, hitting and throwing back in the B.C. era, “before coaches.”  When we understand that mental and physical interferences slow down the learning process, we will have more fun, feel good doing it, and enjoy the benefits of tennis and all sports. It’s time that we reconnect and unlock our natural ability to play great tennis.

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