The Biggest Tennis Myth that's Hurting Your GameA certain tennis myth, a misconception in tennis, is present in 99% of tennis players I know and have taught.
I've been playing tennis for over 20 years now, and have been a coach for almost 15 years.
During this time I have spent thousands of hours improving my own technique and overall game; helping other players improve their technique and game; and learning from other smart coaches, videos and books.
I believe that I now have a pretty good insight into how someone acquires the skills (technique, footwork, coordination, balance, ball judgment, timing, etc.) needed to play tennis, how long that takes and what the right approach is to teach him.
The purpose of this introduction is to build credibility and trust in my judgment, because what I am about to explain is very different from what you have probably been thinking about tennis.
OK, so here's the Big Myth:
If I miss the ball, I must have done something technically wrong (meaning I moved my body parts in the wrong way). Thus, if I can correct that mistake (move my body parts "correctly"), then I will not miss the ball again.
Based on this myth, we tennis coaches have been earning money giving tennis lessons for decades.
Based on this myth, club and professional tennis players have wasted millions of dollars and thousands of hours, all on trying to improve their game. Without much effect, of course...
Before I explain more about this myth and why it still persists, let me share the truth with you:
If you missed the ball, you were doing the best you could in the current circumstances using your skills, such as:
- ball judgement
- dynamic balance
- the ability to decide quickly
- and hundreds more
In other words, you missed because somewhere in this immensely complex process in your brain - trying to perform all the calculations of distances, speed and timing and, at the same time, coordinating over 300 muscles in your body to move at exactly the right speed and force so that your racquet could connect with the ball at the right spot with a very small margin of error -a mistake happened.
And there is NO WAY you can change or improve a particular, discrete mistake in this process, which is actually going on totally subconsciously, by your conscious effort - i.e., thinking or trying to do something.
Can you correct the racquet angle by half a degree while it's moving at 60 km/h toward the ball, which is approaching at 40 km/h, while you are running?
Can you coordinate your muscles better just by wishing it?
Can you NOT be 0.02 seconds late, during which time the ball travels 20 cm???
Let's keep it simple: if the ball is approaching with 36 km/h, it means that it travels 10 m/s, which means it moves 10 cm every hundredth of a second!
Can you consiously decide not to make a mistake judging the ball, and swing at exactly the right moment not to be late (or early!) by one hundredth of a second?
Then what can you do?
Try again. Notice what happened before, and try again. Your subsconsious will make the necessary adjustments. All you have to do is to notice and repeat, notice and repeat...
Remember, there are just four mistakes in tennis - you either hit:
- too high (too long)
- too low (too short)
- too much to the left
- too much to the right
Next: So why all the coaching? (Coming soon!)