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The tennis season is currently in full swing and if any of the people in your immediate circle of friends are players, you will have noticed that it's not just a sport – it's a whole lifestyle. Being a member of the local tennis club means being part of a community, it means after-match drinks at the club's bar, regular mental and physical exercise and getting to take part in a whole host of other activities organised by your tennis chums. Who wouldn't want to partake in such an active, community-focused lifestyle?
It's never too late to take up tennis – some people don't get started until they have retired, so what's stopping you? The most important step is making the decision to get out there and play. Now that you've gotten that out of the way, it's time to get proactive. Here is a guide to the steps you need to take in getting started with tennis.
Make it Fun
Before you even consider signing up for tennis lessons, play for fun. Invite a few of your friends or neighbours for a round of street tennis – no court, no net, just the good old ball and racquet. You'll want to develop a feeling for the game before your coach starts bogging you down with rules and strategies. So, let loose – hit the ball back and forth for a couple of hours, mix up the pace, maybe even play doubles without adhering to any rules. It will be a good laugh and will allow you to practise your toss and your strokes without focusing on the right from wrong too much.
Find a Good Teacher
Once you feel you are ready to get serious about your game, find a good tennis teacher in your local area. Don't settle for just anyone – if you don't vibe with your teacher, chances are you will not enjoy your lessons much and this will affect your motivation over time. You don't need to find a best friend in your tennis teacher, after all, they are there to challenge you and make you a better player and you're bound to have days on which you'll walk from the courts not liking your teachers much at all for having pushed you so hard. You do need to find some connection, however, as this relationship will help you become the best player you can be. This resource on Orangecoach can help you find a teacher.
Take Your Practice Home
Attending tennis lessons once or twice a week simply isn't enough if you want to become a good player. The game should become somewhat of an obsession, your practice your new homework. There are plenty of ways to practise tennis at home and you should be taking full advantage of that fact. Play against a wall, practise your tosses with a rolled-up sock ball or shadow swing in front of the mirror – it will pay off at your next practice.
Learn the Rules
The sooner you start understanding the rules of tennis, the sooner you will be able to participate in matches and tournaments. Study the rules by watching televised matches, YouTube videos or instructional videos, then meet up with some tennis buddies to practise playing by them. The tennis rule book and scoring system may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but once you familiarise yourself with the terms and strategies, you'll find yourself catching on in no time.
Invest in a Durable Pair of Shoes
Any professional athlete or tennis player will swear by the importance of a durable, good pair of shoes, even if you're not playing at a high level. Tennis will have you on your feet throughout the entire duration of your training, match or tournament; you will be running back and forth and exerting a lot of pressure on your feet and ankles, so it is of utmost importance that your muscles and tendons are protected. Cheap footwear with thin soles will not suffice – you will need durable, flexible soles that reduce the impact.
Buy Your Own Racquet
If you're still in the process of starting out and not entirely sure whether tennis really is the sport for you, there's no need to buy your own racquet. Most tennis clubs offer tennis racquets for hire. If you've caught the tennis bug, however, and are looking to perfect your game, buying your own racquet will help you along the way, this review guide from Tennis Racquet Central will help you choose the best one. You may think all racquets are the same, but each racquet has its own characteristics – some are lightweight, some are heavyweight; some have a thin handle, others have a thicker grip. Find one that feels right to you and you'll never want to play with another racquet again.
Play Man vs. Machine
Playing against your friends or tennis partner is all well and good, but nothing beats a session against the ball machine – it's merciless and will challenge you to the absolute max. A man vs. machine game is not advisable for beginners, but if you have been training for a while and are looking for the ultimate way to practise your back and forehand, the ball machine is the way to go, and it'll be a memorable, if not exhausting, work-out at that.
Join a Club
Now that you're well on your way to becoming an intermediate to advanced player, you may start considering joining a club. Becoming a member of a tennis club comes with many perks. For one, you will be cutting your costs considerably as court times are cheaper for members than they are for those who just play on occasion. On top of that, you will be able to enjoy the sport all-year-round and won't have to rely on good weather to hit the courts because you'll have full access to the indoor courts as well. Tennis is a real community sport and by becoming a member of a club you will be able to reap the full advantages of being a part of it.
Sign Up for Tournaments
You don't need to be an advanced player to sign up for tournaments. Even beginners and intermediate players have their own leagues and are welcome to partake in tournaments – we all need to start somewhere. Signing up for a tournament will give you the drive to better your game and work towards a concrete goal. The tournament itself will be the type of challenge you need to keep you motivated and pushing towards becoming a better player – not just physically but mentally as well. Playing in a tournament setting requires a lot of focus, stamina and strategy and these are all aspects of the game you will improve by playing regularly and competing against different performance levels.
Keep at It
There is no such thing as the perfect tennis player – it's all about practising and keeping at it. Keep up a regular practice of at least two to three training sessions a week and at least three yearly tournaments to ensure you are keeping your muscles in shape and your tossing, back and forehand up to par. Now that you're an official member of the club, you'll have plenty of playing partners to choose from making training sessions and matches all the more fun.