Are Your Practice Sessions NOT Transferring?


Just re-read an article in the Saturday morning 7/28/2018 Wall Street Journal - page A14 titled "The Uncomfortable Practice Habits of a Champion".

Even though the article focuses on recent British Open golf champ Francesco Molinari, it really hit home for me about how we practice tennis.

If you're sincerely trying to improve your tennis skill level, you know, eventually compete at a higher level, the chances are most of your practice efforts don't transfer over to when you play matches that count.

Waaaaay too much of our practice and drilling time is spent on improving stroke technique by adding something new to what we currently do.

We don't spend enough time re-creating specific match play situations.

There's really no pressure in our practice sessions to actually make shots that stay in the court.

We tinker with technique in an effort to see how BIG we can hit certain shots hoping that it'll somehow magically transfer over to when we play matches.

We practice in a pressure-less environment to hit ... winners.

Kinda like ... if we eventually perfect stroke technique, we'll be able to hit winners whenever we want.

And you know how that story goes. Whether you play singles or doubles, that kind of practice session doesn't transfer over to reality in a match.

In fact, the pressure of making shots in a match ... hasn't been practiced.


If your practice sessions aren't transferring over to your matches in a positive way, (and it could be that your practice sessions are actually hurting your matches), then I'll bet a decent sum that there are no consequences for missing shots when you practice.

Despite hitting just 3 out of 10 in the court, trying to copy Fed's forehand in practice might be a feel good sense of time well spent for you, but the chances are you're not then hitting that Fed forehand 9 out of 10 times in a match.

Your practice session has zero pressure. In a match ... you do have pressure to not miss.

My good friend and top world class 65s player Fred Robinson has a simple practice drill that transfers over to your matches.

Can you --- in practice --- hit a cross court forehand groundstroke where it lands in the middle of that cross court quadrant (behind the service line, inside the sideline and baseline) 10 out of 10 times?

Yeah, the middle of that quadrant - a BIG target inside the lines and safely over the net.

If you can't, then you're trying to hit the ball too hard as if you're mind is telling you to play your shot with enough power that it probably wouldn't come back in a match.

You gotta find a swing speed that gives you that 10 out of 10 control.

It's a swing speed that's much slower than what you think you need to bring to your matches.

And it's stroke technique that is minimalist.

No added flair to look like a touring pro. Even with a slower swing speed, if you're bringing in artificial unneeded technique, yeah, 10 out of 10 ain't gonna happen.

That's a voice you gotta turn off in your head. We too often perceive that we've got to bring in waaaaay more power & technique than what is realistically needed to win points.

So, if your practice sessions aren't transferring over to your matches, then create some consequences in practice that ratchet up the pressure for missing, and that also reward you for consistently making lots of shots.

Consequences? You gotta stay out there until you can hit 10 in a row to your target, or if you miss before you get to 10, then you gotta sprint from the baseline to the net, side to side back the baseline, and do do 5 pushups --- whatever.

I don't know, you gotta get creative with the pressure, but do whatever it takes to build it into your practice sessions SO THAT it transfers over to your matches.

STOP trying to perfect hitting outright winners.

Be satisfied when the other guy misses because he or she knows you can hit 10 in a row over there. THAT's real pressure you've put on an opponent.

Would love to hear back from you. What's on your mind from this post?

Come on now ... get out THERE wherever you are and help someone else have a great day 

P.S. - If your topspin serve is in need of a tune-up (you're getting enough spin but no power & the ball just sits up OR you've got power but not enough spin for control, etc.) ... then take a peek at my complimentary topspin serve instructional video over at .