Developing correct priority thinking when learning and playing tennis is essential. For instance, take consistency and hitting winners. Both should become a part of your game plan. But the mental priority should flow from consistency to hitting winners in a winning strategy. Attempting to hit winners without a base of consistency is like trying to build a building without a foundation. You may get a building up but it’s not going to last very long! Any veteran of the game clearly understands that winners are the reward of consistent play. Consistency creates and maintains an environment for the opportunity to hit winners, exactly like a foundation creates an environment to construct a strong building.
Here is a drill I do to condition a player’s mind to prioritize:
While at the net volleying to an opponent on the baseline, the net player is not allowed to hit a winner until he has hit two or three consistent shots to the baseline player. After the second or third ball the net player is free to pick a shot and hit a winner.
Consistency first, winners second!
Although this is a simple concept, getting players to part from hitting winners prematurely in match play can take years. Even when warming up players tend to hit many winners. How in the world are you and your opponent supposed to warm up if you are slamming winners all over the place?
It’s time to add another piece of the big picture to your tennis mental repertoire. Hitting winners does not win matches, hitting with consistency and control wins matches. Your game plan is to not hit winners to win. Your game plan is to strive for consistency, then stand firm on that consistent foundation and blast away at any winners that show up!
See you on the court!