Coaching Tip: Saturation Training

Everyone has a weakness in their game or a shot they’d like to perfect. How do players go about addressing these problems? Usually in haphazard fashion. They’ll either try to work on it in actual matches, or they’ll work on it some in practice, along with everything else. The result is usually a little improvement, which often convinces them they are on the right track. And so they progress very slowly. But it can be done much quicker with a little “saturation training.”

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Coaching Tip: Proper Practice Progression Prevents Poor Play

Do you do the Six P’s? Proper Practice Progression Prevents Poor Play. (Or, as I sometimes put it, “…Pathetic Play.”) I’ve actually heard this as the Five P’s, but I’ve added “Progression.” Proper practice progression means starting with the basics and working your way up to more advanced technique for all aspects of your game. It also means practicing these shots in context, i.e. game situations. Think of it this way, using the forehand as an example.

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Coaching Tip: Make a Game of Your Weaknesses

One of the best ways to improve is to make a game that zeroes in on your weaknesses and forces you to improve them. There’s nothing like a little fun competition to bring out your best!

For example, suppose you have a weak backhand counter-drive. Here’s a game I’ve played with students for years, spotting points to make it competitive. I put a box, towel, or other object around the middle of the table so that my opponent has to aim for my backhand to keep the ball in play. Then we play backhand-to-backhand games, where either of us starts the rally by serving straight topspin, then we go at it, backhand-to-backhand. If the ball hits the box or towel, or goes to the other side of it, then they lose the point. If a player plays anything other than a backhand drive, they lose the point. The rallies become fast and furious – and the backhands improve!!!

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Coaching Tip: Fixing the Biggest Weakness in Your Game

Everyone has a “biggest weakness” in their game, almost by definition. Beginning and intermediate players may have many weaknesses, but there’s probably a biggest. Even great players don’t do everything great – it’s all relative, and their biggest weakness might be something that would be a powerful strength for an intermediate player.

So what should you do about this “biggest weakness”? FIX IT!!! So how do you go about doing that?

The first step, of course, is really identifying this biggest weakness. Is it a stroking technique problem? Footwork? Weak serve or receive? Choking under pressure? Analyze your results and figure it out. Perhaps watch videos of yourself playing, and compare what you do with what top players do. A coach or top player might be able to help out in this analysis.

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