Most tennis players, at one point or another, consider taking lessons to improve their game. Taking lessons is an investment, and like most investments, you’ll usually get what you pay for if you don’t do a little research. Hopefully, this article will help those individuals looking to take tennis lessons and can be an aid to those who are already on the court.
The first thing you want to take into account when considering tennis lessons are your goals. What are you trying to achieve and/or get out of the lesson? This is the first question I ask a new client. Tennis lessons cannot be structured in a productive way unless the pro knows what you want. Some take lessons for the exercise, others take lessons to do something social with their friend, and most take lessons to improve aspects of their game. If your goal is to improve one aspect of your game, then you are more than likely going to want to consider private lessons. Working one-on-one with a pro will help you see results faster than in a group lesson. If you are looking to do something social with a friend, then you should consider a group lesson. The camaraderie of a group lesson will be just what you are looking for. Do you want to do a lesson for the exercise? Perhaps, instead of a lesson, you should consider a drill. Most clubs have a cardio tennis special with fast-paced drills where you can build up a good sweat. On the other hand, if you are just looking to practice the skills you already have in a competitive environment, then you should consider joining a league instead of taking a lesson. Whatever your own personal goals are, make sure you find something appropriate.
Here are a few other things that will help you get the most out of your lessons. Make sure you get to your club a little bit early. You don’t want to feel rushed going onto the court. Additionally, if you have to take care of any business at the front desk, you’ll have the time to do so. Getting to the club early will also give you the opportunity to stretch a bit. Look up a few dynamic stretches you think you’ll enjoy, and get your body warmed up and limber for when you get on court. You don’t want to waste too much of your lesson getting your body prepped to play. In order to have that time before your lesson, try very hard to choose a time that will work for you every week. It has been too often that I have a client who is eager to be at their lesson every week, but then get sidetracked by work or family responsibilities, even traffic. Pick a time you will know works; you’ll get far less bang for your buck if you’re missing a third of your lessons by arriving late. Furthermore, practice what you do in the lesson. Tennis is like any other hobby or endeavor … to see improvements, you’ll have to practice outside of the lesson. Don’t live under the impression that if you do a one-hour lesson every week that your serve will improve.
Lastly, you have to consider what pro you are going to work with. Every pro will get you to where you want to be, the difference is how fast they can get you there. In my experience, the best way to go about choosing a pro is to choose one that has the personality that suits your learning. Some people need a teacher that pushes them hard, while others need someone who is a bit softer otherwise they’ll retreat into a shell. Some need a teacher with a sense of humor, while others need a more serious demeanor in their instructor. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions and getting some information about your pro.
Consider taking a quick 30 minute private lesson with a pro you are considering so you can get to know their on-court personality better. Ask questions about what areas of tennis your pro specializes in. Some pros specialize in beginners, tournament juniors, USTA adult teams, and others specialize in 10 & Under tennis. Play style is important as well. Does your pro teach mostly baseline singles play, doubles strategy, serve and volley, or an all-around game? Choose a teacher that has the skill set that you need to learn what you want to learn.
Taking tennis lessons is not usually a cheap investment, and if you want to get the most out of it, you’ll have to do a little leg work before you get started. Doing so will not only help you get more bang for your buck, but it will make you a happier player as well.
Miguel Cervantes III
Miguel Cervantes III teaches at Carefree Racquet Club and privately outdoors. Miguel specializes in teaching beginners, training juniors and coaching doubles. He may be reached by e-mail at UnderstandingTennis@gmail.com.