If you’re taking private lessons from a tennis professional, then you already know that they aren’t cheap, and even though your instructor may be one of the best in town, you can still end up spending tons of money and not see much progress if you don’t budget your time wisely.
Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re getting the most value possible out of each and every one of your lessons:
First lesson? Arrive early. Observe part of the person’s lesson before yours to see how the pro presents the information and what is expected of the student.
Set goals and discuss them with your pro. Evaluate your game beforehand and discuss what you want to improve most and your expectations, so that the pro can create the appropriate lesson plans that will get you there.
Don’t try to learn everything at once. Even world champions who have been training for decades don’t know it all, so don’t you expect to learn everything right off the bat. Be patient and stick to perfecting one skill at a time, and soon you’ll have a tennis arsenal you can be proud of.
Don’t refuse your pro’s advice. Whether you’re a newbie or a player who wants to take their game to the next level, or a seasoned player who has developed bad habits over time, you will be learning (or re-learning) things that will feel “weird” or even “wrong” (like changing your grip), but you need to do them. Arguing with your pro because it doesn’t feel right will not only frustrate him/her AND you, and waste time that you’re paying for, but it will also keep you from improving. Just trust that they are the expert, and they know what you should be doing. It will all feel “normal” after some practice.
Ask questions. While you want most of your time to be spent hitting balls, you should use some of it by asking for advice from your expert on game strategies and tactics that can help you in your league matches. Remember, they’ve been there, done that, so take advantage of their experience and further your game faster!
Learn something in each lesson and write it down. Once the lesson is over it’s easy to forget what you just learned, so before you leave the court, ask the pro to help you recall the key points and write them down in a notebook to keep in your bag. Then you’ll have a great list of tips specific to your game style that you can pull out and review before your matches.
Videotape your lessons. We all watch the pros on TV or in person at tournaments, so we know what good form should look like, so watching yourself in action is a huge learning experience. You’ll be able to see exactly what the coach is talking about when you need correction.
Stick around after your lesson. Spend some time watching the next lesson given by the pro. Often “3rd party learning” is very strong where you hear a command, see it performed, and then see and hear the response from the pro. It also might give you ideas for
Share a lesson with a teammate. Each of you will recall the lesson a little differently, so afterward (and whenever you play together) you can talk about it and help each other remember what tips were key, what drills to practice, etc.
Regularly revisit your goals with your pro. Whether you’re a newbie and in it for the long-term, or a seasoned player only wanting help with your serve, you should talk about your progress with your pro.
Use it or lose it. Make a point to use everything you learn in your practice matches, and practice often, and before long, those will become automatic in your game. If you don’t practice, you will more than likely forget how to do them properly and will need to work on them again in your lessons instead of learning something new.
When all else fails, get a new pro. If you’ve tried everything and still aren’t progressing, then it might not be you…it could be your pro. Perhaps they spend more time talking and less time hitting, or maybe they don’t encourage you enough. Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t feel obligated to stay with a pro if you aren’t seeing the results, and there are plenty of them out there to choose from. After all, if the world’s best players don’t settle, why should you?