With every new year comes new resolutions. The start of the year always gives us a fresh start—a way to reset and refocus. And I’m sure if you’re reading this, tennis is one of your resolutions or goals this year.
Maybe you’ve decided to play more tennis this year. And, of course, that’s a fantastic goal. Who doesn’t want to spend more time on the court? But what does that look like? Have you broken it down into bite-sized goals or brainstormed ideas about how you will play more tennis?
It’s okay if you haven’t, that’s okay! Read on to find out seven ways to incorporate more tennis this year.
1. Take Weekly Lessons
If you’re looking to improve a particular aspect of your game or learn new tactics, a weekly lesson will be very beneficial to achieve those two goals. A teaching professional will be able to identify what shots need work and give you little tips and tweaks along the way to finetune your skills.
Many tennis clubs will have teaching pros that are ready and willing to take you on as a student. However, if you don’t have the luxury of living near a club, the USTPA provides a list of all certified pros and their contact information to help you find a coach.
If weekly lessons seem too expensive, you can buddy up and share a lesson.
2. Try Cardio Tennis
Let me just say I love cardio tennis.
My first experience with cardio tennis was in 2018 when I started my first full-time teaching job at my hometown’s tennis club, and it’s one of my favorite activities. Traditionally, cardio tennis uses orange balls (typically used for the 10 & under kid programs) because they have less air in them.
Less air means less bounce means more running. But the best part about cardio tennis is that you don’t even realize how much you’re running because you’re having so much fun.
If you’re interested in cardio tennis, call your local club to see if they offer it.
3. Join A League
Joining a league offers a new competitive challenge and more opportunities to grow relationships. The USTA offers leagues based on location, NTRP ratings, and weekend leagues vs. weekday leagues.
USTA Leagues offers programs to players who are rated between 2.5 through 5.0. The USTA has a handy self-rating chart if you’re unsure of your NTRP rating.
Leagues are typically separated by age and gender:
- 18 & Over
- 40 & Over
- 55 & Over
- Mixed Doubles
If you want to take on a leadership role, you could try your hand at being a league captain, which entails finding teammates, paying dues, finding courts, scheduling practices, and setting up matches.
And if you’re looking for a more homegrown league, Game.Set.Match connects other tennis players to recreational tennis leagues.
4. Play a Tournament
Do you want to put all those hours spent in clinics and lessons to the test? Then, you might be ready to play in a tournament. Many coaches, including myself, believe that competitive play is truly the only way to improve your skills, especially your tennis IQ and mental toughness.
If you watch professional tennis, you’ll often hear players after a significant amount of time off that they weren’t match ready. After a knee injury forced Serena Williams to withdraw from the Miami Open and Rome Open in 2019, she found it difficult to compete in the Grand Slams, losing in the third round of Rolland Garros. Before Wimbledon 2019, she said at a press conference, “I just haven’t had enough match play, quite frankly.”
If the GOAT needs competitive matches under her belt to feel like she’s improving, then it’s safe to say that you might need them too.
Game.Set.Match can help you find tournaments for your skill level, or you can head to the USTA and find tournaments in your area.
5. Join a Tennis Club
Joining a tennis club that offers a variety of different clinics, lessons, and monthly events could be a great way to intentionally play more tennis. You’ll discover new skills, meet new people, and maybe even find a place that feels like a home away from home.
And while some tennis club memberships can be expensive, most will allow you to take their classes for a slightly increased fee. And if you’re able to locate an indoor tennis club, even better, because you’ll be able to play all year round.
6. Get Involved With The Younger Generation
Getting the younger generation involved in tennis is something close to my heart. The youngest I’ve taught as a coach was just three years old. Of course, there aren’t many balls making it across the net, but they’re working on catching, throwing, and basic motor skills.
If you have kids or grandkids, take them with you the next time you’re on court. If you have older kids who know how to play, maybe schedule a weekly hitting session with them.
If you don’t have kids, that’s okay too (I don’t either!) There are still many ways to get involved if you feel called to teach. If you live in a close-knit community with public tennis courts, feel free to put together weekend lessons for kids (or any age group, really). Even tennis clubs look for experienced players to help them with the younger kids during the summer.
7. Treat Yourself to an Adult Tennis Camp
If you’re looking for even more of a challenge, many tennis academies offer adult programs, day programs, and summer camps. Many of them are offered in Florida and California. But if you really want to get away, there are even international tennis academies like Rafael Nadal’s academy that offer adult programs.
If you dreamed of going to an academy when you were younger, there’s still time to live that dream!