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April 1, 2001
Strokes depend on 'feel' not 'mechanics.'


Welcome to Tom's Online Tennis Lesson, sponsored by TennisWarrior.com, "where you can learn  to  think like a pro!"

If you would like to learn to play tennis or reach a higher level at a quicker rate you must understand that stroke production is based on a 'feel' of a particular stroke, not 'mechanics.'  Are you thinking, "not mechanics, I thought strokes were all mechanics!"  Well, that is what conventional methods would lead you to believe, but it simply is not true.

The truth is all pros have developed a feel of a given stroke by many hours of repetition.  Either by having someone feed them balls or just having fun as a child playing day in and day out.  As they develop a feel for a given shot then the mechanics work correctly.  Did you catch that?  The feel of a stroke allows the mechanics to function properly.  The mechanics themselves do not make the stroke function correctly.  An example of this would be a player who has the perfect mechanics and looks good, but cannot keep the ball in the court with any consistency.  He has painstakingly forced himself to do the mechanics correctly, but has developed no 'feel' of the stroke through repetition.

What do I mean by 'feel'?  A feel is an identification with a stroke as a whole unit, not its individual parts.  By the way this is true for all sports.  If you think Michael Jordan was one of the all time greatest basketball players because he had the best mechanics you would be dead wrong.  His 'feel' of the game, shots, and situations were beyond most players in the history of the game.  He developed that 'feel' from long hours of repetition when most would become bored!  The same is true in tennis.  Develop a feel of a shot and that feel will make the mechanics work correctly.  Try it and see for yourself!

Go out and practice any one of your shots for one month, just one half hour a week or more and watch what begins to happen.  Use a ball machine or a partner that will simply feed you balls.  Hit for ten minutes, then rest by practicing another stroke for three minutes, then come back to the same stroke for ten more minutes.   Do this for as long as you like each week for a month and watch the different 'feel' that develops for that particular shot.  Even if you are not doing everything perfectly you will still improve!!!  Why?  THE MAGIC OF THE LOST ART OF REPETITION!

That's right I said the lost art of repetition.  Most players now-a-days want a pro to tell them what they technically did wrong so they can correct it and then they think everything is fine.  Only one problem, if that is all there were to it everyone would be a pro!  Everyone seems to forget repetition.  Repetition is so powerful that many times you do not even have to be technically correct and you will still improve.  Besides with a little guidance and a lot of repetition many of the mistakes you are making will disappear on there own.  Why?  Because most of the mistakes players make are based on incorrect balance, timing, judgment, and undeveloped muscle.  All four can only be developed by repetition, not by forcing yourself to do a host of technical things.

This is the same problem a child is having when he learns to walk.  He lacks the balance, the timing, the judgment, and has undeveloped muscle.  How does the child solve this problem?  With the same principle you should use to develop your game - REPETITION!

REPETITION develops balance, timing, judgment, and undeveloped muscle which in turn leads to a feel for any given stroke and that feel makes the mechanics work properly.  This is exactly how repetition taught you a feel for walking as a child and eventually a feel for the advanced skill of running.  Learning tennis is based on developing a 'feel' for the whole stroke through repetition, not on learning each and every intricate mechanical movement.

Your email tennis pro,

Tom


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