For beginners, it can take time to pick up any sport. Whether it’s tennis, pop tennis, pickleball, or something completely different, the first few months can be tough. It can be easy for new players to get disheartened in the early stage of learning a new sport, however, stick with it and you will soon start to a progression as your ability improves. Due to the nature of sports and the skills required, such as hand-eye coordination, racquet sports can be difficult for beginners. To help new players get started here are our 8 top tips for beginner racquet sports players.
Invest in equipment
It’s common for any new sportsperson to be reluctant to invest a lot of money in equipment when they are just starting, however, having the right equipment is crucial. Whether you're playing pickleball, tennis, badminton, or any racquet sport, having the appropriate equipment is the best place to start. While we don’t expect you to go out and buy the best equipment available, a good starter racquet will give you an advantage. We’ve previously highlighted the must-have equipment for beginner tennis players.
Maintain a cool head
While, of course, there is a great emphasis on mastering the sport from a physical point of view, players shouldn’t overlook the mental side of the game. At Tennisletics we put great emphasis on the importance of the mental and emotional sides of the sport. These elements separate the good players from the very best. The earlier a player can understand the significance of the mental aspects of the sport the quicker they will start to progress.
Focus on footwork
In racquet sports, your footwork is just as essential as your ability to return a shot, if your agility is lacking, you will find it difficult to move around the court. If you want to be able to compete at a high level you need to be able to move around the court quickly in all directions, be able to stop and transition quickly and be able to maintain your balance while doing so. Footwork is something that can be overlooked by many beginners as they focus on improving their shots, however, the earlier you perfect your footwork the quicker you will progress. We’ve previously highlighted some of our favorite tennis footwork drills, these can be used for all racquet sports.
Don’t ignore the importance of a warm-up
When you first start a sport it’s completely normal to be excited and want to jump into it as soon as possible. However, it’s imperative you don’t overlook the importance of a warm-up. Warming up appropriately is paramount for athletes of all levels, but when you are new to a sport it is key. While your body starts to get used to the demand of the new sport it’s vital to ensure that you do an appropriate warm-up and cool down before and after each training session to reduce the chance of injury.
Work on your grip
Taking time to ensure that you are holding your racquet correctly is crucial, as an incorrect grip can result in injury. As the name would suggest tennis below is a common injury for racquet sports and can be a result of a poor grip. Learning to loosen your grip throughout the match will help to reduce the strain on your forearm and elbow muscles. Many beginners will hold the racquet with an unnecessarily tight grip which prevents proper swings and increases the chance of developing tennis elbow.
Keep your eyes on the ball
Learning to track the ball and keep your eye on it throughout the duration of a match is something that a beginner player should try to improve as soon as possible. This means following the ball from your opponent's racquet, while they play the shot, and then adjusting your position ready for the return. In addition to learning to track the ball, new players also need to understand how to remain focused. Maintaining concentration especially during long matches, and keeping your eyes on the ball go hand in hand, and are vital for players who are looking to get to the top of the game. Don’t be afraid, as adults, to do drills with red balls to give yourself more time to improve your movement.
Improve your stamina
As you begin to work your way up the tennis ladder, your matches will likely go on for a longer time. At the top level, some matches can last for anywhere between 2 and 5 hours. Therefore, players will need to spend a lot of time working on their stamina and overall fitness levels. Tennis is full of lots of short sprints and played at a high intensity, meaning physical fitness is crucial. While beginners may only be playing shorter matches of rallies to start with, it’s important to work on stamina for future development.
Practice makes perfect
Ultimately, the best piece of advice we can give any beginner tennis or pickleball player is practice makes perfect. The more you put into racquet sports, the more you get out. It can be easy for new players to get disheartened if they are missing shots and not progressing as quickly as they like to start. But they have to take a step back and ask themselves if they are putting enough in. The more a player practices the more they will improve, it’s as simple as that, at all levels of the sport. The best athletes won’t stop training or practicing because they are number 1, they put in more effort and more time in training to stay at the top.