If you haven't set foot on a tennis court in ages, you might be a little hesitant to get back into the swing of things. After all, tennis isn't quite like riding a bike--if you haven't played tennis in a long time, you can't expect to pick up right where you left off. You may have to do a little bit of fine-tuning to get back to the place where you feel comfortable on the court again. Below are some of the common problem areas that returning tennis players run into when they're returning to the game after a long hiatus, as well as some tips to help you get back to good form.
Common Problem Areas
- Reaction Time - You'd be surprised how much slower your reflexes can become when you haven't kept them sharp by playing tennis on a regular basis. If you're feeling a little rusty in terms of reaction time, don't feel bad--it will take a little while to train your mind and reflexes enough to get your reaction time up to speed again.
- Touch - You might feel like a bull in a china shop when you first step back on the court. Overshooting, errant strokes and lack of finesse on lobs and drop shots are common indications that you'll probably need to work on your touch. Once you get used to hitting around again, you'll be able to execute shots that require a decent amount of feel without feeling clumsy or clunky.
- Timing - The mechanics of your shots might suffer a little bit as well. Keep in mind that in order to successfully execute any type of tennis stroke, your body has to perform a combination of movements that involve several different muscles. If these parts don't work together smoothly, your swing mechanics will be a little off. You'll probably notice this the most in your serve, since it's a more complex shot than most regular ground strokes.
Returning to Tennis: How to Get Back Into the Game
Although you might be feeling a little rusty, don't get discouraged; use the following tips to help you shake out the cobwebs and get your tennis game back on point:
- Stick to basic shots at first. In other words, try not to get too fancy with aiming for the corners or ripping a sideline scorcher. Just focus on quality shot placement with uncomplicated shots that are easy to execute and give you plenty of room to work with. This is known as "playing the percentages," which means choosing shots that have the highest likelihood of success in a myriad of different scenarios.
- Start off by playing people who are either at or slightly below your current skill level. This will help you build your confidence and regain your competitive chops without the game being too lopsided either way. It would do you no good to play someone who is far better than you, because that basically means you won't get much actual practice; by the same token, you don't benefit from dominating a less skilled player, because that won't give you an accurate indication of your current level of play.
- Practice, practice, practice. Find a partner you can hit around with, but if no one is available, use a ball machine or a practice wall. The more time you invest in quality practice sessions, the more you'll feel your old tennis chops coming back again--and you might even get better than you ever were before.
- Be patient with yourself. You know that you already have a decent set of foundational tennis skills, so it's really just a matter of getting acclimated to playing once more. Give yourself some time to develop a feel for the game again by practicing on a consistent basis. Work through your strokes until they fully become second nature, just like they were before.
There are all kinds of life situations that may cause someone to put their tennis racquet down for a period of time. When you first get back on the court, try not to get discouraged if your game isn't up to snuff. It's perfectly normal to be a little rusty when you first come back; just remember to keep a positive attitude through the initial errors and miscues that are bound to happen at the beginning. Keep the above tips in mind, and after a while, you'll be back to your old self again, enjoying the game of tennis like you always have.