Hello Martin Lager, chairman of the Swedish Tennis Federation's veteran association, board member of GTK, tennis coach, and recently also this year's winner of the Swedish Championships in both singles 45+ and doubles 45+. As an active veteran player and experienced tennis coach, you meet many players of all ages with mixed experience and level of ambition. What can you see are the most common problems for these players and what can you suggest as a solution?
First of all, it's never too late to develop your game and technique! And it's always fun to get better; as every player I've met over the years has found. No matter what your goals are with your tennis, there are effective ways to get better. If I had to pick out the most common problems, I would say 1) you grip the racket incorrectly; 2) you don't perform the basic movement of the serve correctly; 3) you don't use topspin in your game and finally 4) you move incorrectly towards the ball, i.e. you don't adapt to the situation. Let me elaborate a bit more:
Problem 1: The grip
It is common for recreational players to grip incorrectly when serving and backhanding, for example. What the player may not know is that just a small correction of the grip can make a very big difference. Many of these players have never done anything about the error, either because they think it can't be changed, they may think "now that I've played so many years with this grip, I'll never be able to change it" or they simply never understood how important it is to hold just right. But I can attest that it can dramatically change the game for the better!
Problem 2: The Serve
The serve is a major challenge for most players. There are so many parts to the serve and it takes a lot of practice. But there are also great opportunities to improve and see good results quickly. It all starts with a good foundation, i.e. with the server movement itself. If you have it down, you can work on refining the technique to include throws, position, etc. If a player wants to improve the serve, whether they have been playing for a long time or are a relatively new player, they should work a lot on the fundamentals to make sure they are correct.
Problem 3: Topspin
I can see that there are many players who have not even learned to play with topspin; or players who do not use it enough in their game as the technique has not set in properly so therefore they simply avoid it. Some players know that they have problems with topspin and others may never have learned the basics. The fact is that in the past, people played more flat, and didn't use the same wrist movement and acceleration as today's youth. But you can start playing topspin in older age to develop your game.
Problem 4: Situational awareness
Many players, both recreational and even more experienced, misjudge the situation before a ball hit. Some stress too much and run into the ball or assess it too late and don't have time to get there. It is important to learn to adapt your game to the situation by moving towards the ball, getting into the correct position and also getting your body into the shot.
Tips for solutions
If you work more on one or all four of these problem areas, you will improve your game considerably. Practicing with a coach and practicing on your own is preferable as combining them will give the best results. Of course, there are many traditional rack and ball drills, but in recent years there have been a number of exciting tennis training tools launched that quickly teach you techniques and correct errors. If we look at specifically the problems I've highlighted now, i.e. grip errors, fundamental errors in the serving motion, lack of topspin, and poor situational awareness then I would recommend the training tools GripFixer, ServeMaster, TopspinPro and the Toalson Sweet Area Racket. I have worked with all of these tools and have seen great improvements in a short period of time. What's especially great about these tools is that you can practice both on the court and at home which shortens the time you spend learning.
Best of luck in developing your game!
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