I love the game of tennis. I enjoy watching it, playing it and writing about it! What I find truly amazing is the amount of focus and the amount of skill that is required to play well.
Tennis is not easy. Hitting the ball with pace and hitting it in, takes good technique. It's true when you serve and on your groundstrokes. You need a proper swing path and you need to generate racquet head speed to generate the necessary spin.
Hitting out at the ball to generate the necessary spin takes commitment and confidence that you are going to execute the mechanics correctly.
Struggling with confidence in your mechanics is a pretty common issue in tennis. So how do we become more confident in them?
There are lots of techniques available to study to gain confidence. I'd like to focus on one though that's pretty fundamental, practice. Not just hitting the ball though, deliberate practice.
Practicing is a critical method to gain confidence. A lot of people skip it though. They only play matches. They show up 5 minutes before their match. They hop on the court, hit a few forehands, a few backhands and a few serves and then the match starts. Sometimes they have a good day and others they don't.
Practicing allows us to develop repeatable shots that we can trust in match play. Taking time to practice allows you to groove your groundstrokes. If you've hit thousands of forehands up the line while practicing when it comes time to do it during a match you will have more confidence in hitting the shot.
Practice though is not just hitting ball after ball without any goal or objective. You should be deliberate when practicing. If you're working on your forehand groundstrokes focus on where they are landing. Are you getting good depth? Are you hitting too deep and risking the ball being out?
You want good depth on your ball so you aren't leaving the ball short and allowing your opponent to hit comfortable groundstrokes or the opportunity to attack and come in behind a weak shot.
If your hitting partner is standing at, or just behind the baseline, and you're hitting topspin is your ball still rising when it reaches them? Are they moving back to be more comfortable returning your shot? That's a sign that you're getting good depth on your shot.
If you're just out there hitting balls you may not notice. You may feel that you're striking the ball solid, you're not making a lot of mistakes but you may miss that you're not making your hitting partner's life difficult.
That's just one example of course but the same principle is true in the different aspects of your game.
Ideally, you should work with a coach. A good coach will help you set the goals and objectives that will improve your game when you're practicing your shots. They'll help you develop effective patterns of play. They will make your practice much more deliberate and your game will improve.
Deliberate practice will greatly increase your skill. Repeating the same good shots over and over again in practice will help you have the confidence you need to hit them during a match.