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Technical Skills

Myth - To learn to play tennis you must concentrate on many intricate technical skills.

Truth - This is one of the toughest myths to answer because of all the preconceived ideas that conventional tennis lessons, books, and tapes have instilled in most players.  The short answer is "no" you do not have to concentrate on many intricate technical skills to learn to play tennis or even to become the number one player in the world!  How is that for a shocker.

The longer answer is the pros develop a "feel" for a given shot and that "feel" allows the technical skills to work correctly.  How do you develop a "feel" for a particular shot?  Let me answer that by first explaining how you do not develop a "feel" for a shot.  You do not develop a "feel" for a stroke by verbally trying to talk yourself through a host of different technical commands.   To do this would confuse you, frustrate you, and have the affect of making you more mechanical rather than instinctive and automatic.  Eventually you will think, "I'll never get this game!"  Conventional methods are notorious for emphasizing technical skills and making the whole learning process mind boggling!

You develop a "feel" for a given stroke at any level by concentrating on one or two important procedures and then letting repetition mold the rest of the stroke.  As you develop a "feel" through practice the intricate technical skills will function automatically.  Much of tennis will be learned in the same way that you learned to walk.  You learned to walk by repetition and trial and error of some simple procedures.  Eventually not only did you develop a "feel" for walking, but you learned advanced skills like running, jumping, and skipping, with no added instruction.  The technical skills functioned properly because of developing a "feel" for walking through repetition.  Not because you or anyone else verbally talked you through a host of technical instruction.  These same principles of learning apply to tennis.  For a more detailed explanation of this walking analogy click on "Warrior System" then click "Physical Skills."

To help you understand this principle a little better.  The next time you are playing do not concentrate on your footwork at all.  Instead, just let your feet do what ever naturally occurs for the situation.  Do not worry if you should step with the left foot here or the right foot there.  Just play!  Move your feet in a way that feels comfortable and natural.  Do this for your next 5 to 6 matches and notice how your balance begins improving, notice how sometimes you will hit with an open stance (body facing the net) and sometimes with a closed stance (body sideways), and above all notice how you have become more automatic, instinctive, and relaxed.   

Guess what?  You are beginning to acquire a "feel" for the footwork.  Not to mention you will enjoy yourself more!

Now, go back and concentrate on the correct footwork again and notice how mechanical and restricted you feel.


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