Tennis: it’s ace!

Tennis is a game! Tennis trainer Alain Dedial believes that if you enjoy playing and don’t think too much about winning, you’ll make progress faster and enjoy being out on the court more.

Text: Clau Isenring

What’s the most common mistake made by people who’ve been playing tennis for years?

Mistakes vary depending on whether you’re self-taught or coached. Sequences of movement that are self-taught may be inefficient and lead sooner or later to problems such as tennis elbow, inflammation of the wrist, shoulder pain or frustration. What’s more, you’ll quickly reach the limits of your game and won’t be able to tap into your full potential.

In contrast, children and adults who learn with a coach often experience stagnation in their development, because they want to correct and improve everything at once. For example, the coach wants to make two tweaks to the player’s backhand slice during a lesson. But the player tries to improve another three things on the same stroke. This leads to a learning overload, which  hinders progress. At this point the coach has to step in. The key to success is “less is more”.

“The key to success is less is more.”
Alain Dedial

Do children learn and incorporate new movements faster?

Yes, young people simply want to play tennis, try things out and see what happens. The older the student, the more they try to solve the problem in their heads and neglect the actual feeling of playing the stroke. Children just want  to play - or experience - tennis, while adults tend to associate this process too closely with winning. Adults can learn from children in this respect.

What do you recommend for someone  who’s been playing tennis for years but has never been taught the right technique?

Get a coach – it’s the only way to really improve your tennis! It’s important for a coach to tailor lessons to  each student. An experienced coach first assesses a player’s strengths and weaknesses and thenmoves on to identifying any untapped potential. The next step is to find out how much time the player is willing to invest in achieving their goal. Then there’s nothing standing in the way of improving their game.   

Three tips from Alain Dedial

The best tips are always those geared to the individual, because what’s good for Mr. Smith may even be counterproductive for Ms. Jones. However, I think the following things apply to tennis in general:

  1. Learn! Be prepared to learn new things to explore new avenues or change old habits. If you want to succeed you need to be willing to change.
  2. Laugh! A good mood and a positive attitude towards training can work wonders. It’s the experience, not the result, that counts. Success (progress) will follow in due course.
  3. Sweat! Tennis is a running sport. If you position yourself correctly to the ball, you can hit and place the return better. The by-product of all this running is sweat, plenty of vitality, and, of course, greater success.

Alain Dedial

Swiss Tennis competition trainer, Swiss Tennis coach, eight-time Swiss 35+ Men’s Champion