For most of us our tennis careers begin in the school playground armed with a sponge ball in one hand and a plastic racket in the other. As we get a little older we upgrade to the proper equipment and hone our skills during the summer holidays on a make-shift centre court on our neighbour’s driveway. A few years (and a few hundred lost tennis balls) later we’re old enough to head over to the local courts.
Many people successfully keep tennis going during their teens, even perhaps into university and beyond. But for most of us tennis somehow gets lost in the work-life balance mix of adult life.
Although Andy Murray is doing very well at vicariously living out our tennis dreams, it’s never too late to get back on the court and do it yourself!
We spoke to tennis instructor Ross Askell to find out his top tips for getting back into tennis, whether it’s been a year or a decade!
How to get (re) started?
There are many ways to get back onto the court. Your route back in may depend on your playing ability, but there is something for everyone out there.
Most clubs/courts have coaches, who offer individual or group coaching. That can be a great way of getting back into the game (and hopefully with fewer bad habits).
If that doesn’t appeal and you just want to start playing without coaching, most clubs/courts offer drop in social tennis where you will play for 2 hours (4x30mins), usually doubles.
An average playing standard is required for this and you definitely need to be able to serve (otherwise people tend to get a little annoyed – I’ve seen it happen).
Get started by calling the reception of your chosen club and ask for advice. They are normally very helpful, but if they are not do not let that put you off!!
What kit do I need?
- Comfy trainers. Preferably tennis ones, but that doesn’t really matter
- Sports kit
- Tennis racquet. Again if you don’t have one you can usually borrow one!
- Water! Really important! Just because its cold it doesn’t mean you can’t dehydrate!
I feel really self conscious and get frustrated with my ability etc. What should I do?
I see many clients that get stressed and frustrated with their game after returning from some time out. This is really counter productive as it usually makes the body go ridged and therefore reduces the fluidity of your strokes.
It’s natural that in the first few weeks back you’re going to be a little bit ‘rusty,’ stick with it! But most importantly enjoy the journey of reconnecting with a game from your childhood. The more time you put in on court the quicker you will be back to your best!
Are there any exercises I can do off the court to help build my strength/help me prepare etc?
If you perhaps a little unfit and don’t want to launch straight back into the game, gentle jogging combined with interval sprinting will get you tennis fit so you don’t feel so sluggish on the court.
Diet is also really important, and its important to equip your body with the right nutrients to re-supply the energy that you will expend while playing.
In all my sessions I make sure everyone warms up and stretches before starting. There is nothing worse than pulling a muscle when it could have been avoided. Concentrate on the muscles that are most commonly used in playing and you won’t have any issues.
Motivated to dust off your old racquet and get back on the court? You can book a lesson with Ross here.