I call the following 8 practice objectives POWER GOALS because focusing on them in every practice will transform your game. They are the foundation of effective player development. If you are not working on them every time you are on the court, you are stunting your growth as a player.

Watch every ball after it bounces into the racket.

If you fail to hit the ball in the middle of the strings at the right time, your shot will lose effectiveness, even if you have the best technique in the world. In order to do this, you have to consistently track the ball from the bounce to contact – every single time, and that requires continuous focus and concentration. If you cannot do this in practice, there is no way you will be able to do it with the added pressure of competition. Watching the ball well is a perishable skill that requires constant practice.

Have a Clear Target for Every Shot

Fight for the Ideal Contact-point

In order to swing effectively, in balance, you have to hit the ball at an ideal distance to your body. This is called “your ideal contact point.” It is the “sweet spot,” the place where the swing feels effortless and smooth. As a player, you have to understand exactly where this spot is in all your strokes and fight to hit the ball there every time. After all, your opponents’ goal is to force you to meet the ball outside this “ideal spot.” Do not make it easy for them.

Have a Clear Target for Every Shot

If you do not know where you are going, you will never get there. That is the same on the tennis court. Focusing on hitting the forehand crosscourt is not the same as focusing on hitting it with topspin, 6 feet over the net, 3 feet from the baseline and close to the sideline. A clear target will force you to constantly adjust, helping you to polish your shots. With a general target, you are just going through the motions.

Hit every Ball as it Rises or at the Top of the Bounce  

One of the most important tactical concepts in tennis is taking time away from the opponent, and the best way to do this is by hitting the ball from inside the baseline close to the bounce. The shorter the flight time, the less time the opponent has to react. The problem is that hitting the ball from inside the court is difficult. It requires exceptional perception and movement skills, which can only be developed by constantly focusing on hitting the ball on the rise.

Try to Reach every Ball and get it in the Court

Chasing every ball regardless of where it lands is the only way to train yourself to recognize the direction of the incoming shot early and react immediately.

There are no lines in practice. In addition, the ability to improvise and hit balls in uncomfortable positions is an essential skill for any competitive player. So, your job is not only to run for every ball, but also to find a way to get it in the court as effectively as possible, regardless of where it lands. Actually, you should love running for out balls. It is the best practice for you.

Find the Balance Between Consistency and Power  

Exceptional play requires both power and control. You have to learn to play automatically at the fastest possible speed at which you can control your shots, and the only way to get there is to work on it every time you are on the court. In other words, if you are making all your shots, swing faster. If you are missing too much, add spin – still missing, slow the swing down. Practice should be a constant search for this thin line where power and control are in balance.

Strive for Maximum Efficiency

True masters make any activity look easy because mastery means finding the most efficient way of performing the activity – minimum effort for maximum results. Constantly monitor your tension and effort level on the court. Strive for maximum output with minimum effort. The question you need to constantly ask yourself is: Can I do what I am doing with less muscular effort or tension? If the answer is yes, adjust. Do this enough and you will learn to solely use the muscles you need while relaxing the rest.

Play every Point as if it Were Match Point

When it comes to intensity and focus, there should be no difference between practice and match play. Ideally, you should play every rally as if it were a match point, so that when you are playing the match point you can play it like any other rally. Demand your best effort every time. Once this becomes a habit, you will automatically be ahead of most of the competition.

It is not the drilling or the hours on the court that make you better, it is the underlying focus and intensity. The POWER GOALS will set the foundation to guarantee your optimal development. Make them part of your daily routine!

Edgar Giffenig