There are so many different areas of focus when trying to develop a great tennis player, and this is true for improving at all levels of the game. Technical, physical, tactical, and mental skills are all a part of the game of tennis and should be focused on when practicing and training.
Technical skills are usually the first area of concentration. Players need to work on their strokes, footwork, and positioning when starting to play the game. Basic "hitting the ball" skills are a good place to start. Once these things start feeling better, adding some physical conditioning both on and off the court will help you get in your best "tennis" shape. This means focusing on tennis specific muscles and movements with both aerobic and anaerobic components included in your workout.
Since all players are different, there is not one specific training regimen for all players. Get help from a trainer who has some knowledge of tennis and can come up with some things that work for you. Jumping rope, movement drills, shadow swings and riding a bike are some examples of activities that can help you when you get on the court and play.
Tactics and strategy need special attention as you get more deeply into the competitive aspect of the game. Again, there is not one specific strategy that is going to work for every player. Finding the right combination of consistent and aggressive is the key. A good coach can help you figure out whether to be more on the consistent end or the aggressive side, and help you practice in a similar way to how you envision playing your match.
Mental skills can be developed and improved by using some key thoughts and reminders in practice and in your matches. Trying to play every point the best that you can, not overreacting or panicking if things go wrong, and never giving up, are all great mental reminders to help you compete well.
Practice with these ideas in mind, and do everything you can to simulate what goes on when you get out on the court. Combining these technical, physical, tactical, and mental components in practice and during a match will help you improve your play and give you a great chance to succeed when you get in the heat of the battle.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com throughout the Hamptons, NY. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Tucson, AZ) for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org