Traditional tennis instruction tends to target four aspects of the game: technical, tactical, athletic, and mental. But using the Performance-Determining-Factors approach is much more powerful.

Performance-determining factors in tennis are unique skills that ultimately define your level as a player. Each one describes a specific area of the game or skill that you should target to improve.

My 10 Performance-Determining Factors are:

  • Consistency: The ability to hit the ball over and over with similar results.
  • Precision: The ability to return the ball consistrently and exactly where you want.
  • Footwork: The ability to move around the court efficiently.
  • Perception and Anticipation: The ability to interpret available information to help you prepare early for the next shot.
  • Variation: The ability to hit the ball with the desired combination of height, direction, spin, speed and length.
  • Spin: The ability to control the ball with different types of spins.
  • Ball Speed: The ability to hit the ball fast but controlled.
  • Camouflage: The ability to hide the characteristics of your shots.
  • Mental Skill: The ability to control your thoughts and emotions in order to play your best regardless of the circumstances.
  • Decision Making: The ability to consistently choose the shot with the highest probability of winning the point.

These factors are not in any order, but reading through the list, you have probably begun to understand that your current ability level is nothing but the average of your performance in each of these areas, and consequently any improvement in any one of these factors will make you a better player.  

The advantage of this approach to the game is that thinking in terms of Performance Determining Factors provides you with very specific areas that you can target to improve. We tend to practice the same things over and over and forget to include other very specific and important elements that with a little work could have a big impact on our games.

So, evaluate your performance in each of these factors, and develop a targeted improvement plan. You will transform your game!

Edgar Giffenig