The idea of non-competitive training is to help improve areas of your game that you don’t normally get a chance to work on in competitive situations.
There are two basic ways to achieve this, firstly by not keeping score and secondly just to enjoy playing shots and getting the feel of what is correct.
Your tennis coach can help you out in both situations, but mostly playing fun games socially with friends or other club members.
Playing Game Situations Without Counting
The main idea of not counting score when practicing is to take your mind off winning and to concentrate on the shots you are playing.
If you are playing to win it is most likely that you will stick to your shots that you like and the tactics that normally work. You will stay within your comfort zone and not develop new areas of your game.
When you are playing to win your mind automatically focuses on the win, it does not reflect or analyse the shots you played. If this is the case you are unlikely to correct any mistakes.
How To Practice
The main focus of this non-competitive training is simply to focus on the parts of your game that need to be improved. For this you need drills that do not concentrate on counting and to turn your attention on the part of the game you have identified.
There are assorted drills that you can use in non-competitive situations:
- Working on right tactical decisions
- Improving depth of shots
- Working on stamina
- Working on the right contact point
- Improving accuracy and consistency
- Working on correct positioning
Playing To Improve Feel and Timing
This type of training is rarely used by tennis coaches and in clubs, yet it can be of high importance to your overall game. The feel and timing of shots and the overall body and hand-eye coordination.
You must not set goals for this type of training, let your brain be free to accept the information that is flowing about how you are hitting the ball and the general hand-eye coordination.
The key of this exercise is to get into the rhythm and consistent rallying and then focus inward and become more aware of:
How comfortable do you feel hitting the ball, is there any tension in your body?
- How clearly are you seeing the ball?
- Are you hitting the ball sweetly?
- Can you hit the ball as fast, but use less effort?
- Do you feel balanced playing your shots?
You can focus on these and other areas to increase your awareness, in the long time it will then come automatically. The moment that you allow the sensations of how you feel at a certain moment then you will automatically relax.
Your technique and coordination will improve in the same way, the moment you become aware of tensions and jerky movements of your body, they will become more relaxed and fluid.