If you want to improve your game, you MUST practice. Playing matches and even playing tournaments will help; but if you want to change or improve a stroke, you just cannot do it when the score counts.
To learn a drive-slice backhand, a drop shot, serve out wide, or any other shot … you must be able to divorce yourself from “the consequences” and be free to hit the shot. Over and over and over again. And you just cannot do this during match play.
This practice can be done with a practice partner, a ball machine, or just going to hit on a wall. Each has their own benefits and limitations.
A PRACTICE PARTNER: First, you must find another player who is interested and willing to work with you on the practice court (I have found that a full 50% of the players I know are NOT interested in really practicing). And that player must be good enough to feed you the kind of balls you need to work on your shot.
You each must know when it is “your turn” to practice and the other player is feeding you. Nothing more frustrating than trying to work on a shot and you “practice partner” is trying to hit winners by you!
A TENNIS PRO: Another option, would be to work with a pro, who will be able to both feed you consistent balls and give you pointers on what you should be doing to correct/improve your stroke.
THE BALL MACHINE: Here, you get the most consistent practice partner, who has no “agenda” of his own. You can set the machine to feed you the exact kind of ball you want to hit, over and over again. The down side of this activity is taking the time to pick up the balls and reload the hopper each time.
THE HITTING WALL: No cost, no scheduling, no one else’s agenda… just go down and hit on the wall; and remember, “The wall never misses.” If you read bio’s of many of the tennis greats, as kids, they loved to spend hours just hitting on a wall. Believe it or not, there are a variety of shots you can work on in addition to just pounding hundreds of ground strokes.
More to come on this.