Recently, I have read an online article about how a tennis player can improve his game. One of the recommendations was to practice with stronger players. Well, it is true that practising with stronger opponents will motivate you to keep up and play better and will probably raise your playing level, but the question is how often do you want to do that? Is it good to play with only better players and how much better the players need to be?
How much better should your tennis partner be?
When playing a practice match, you will not learn much when you can’t keep up with your opponent in rallies. If your opponent is hitting the ball way harder than what you are used to and you seriously struggle to keep the ball in play (most of the rallies last less than 4 or 5 balls) then he is too good for you and you will not learn much from such a practice game. In this case you are picking up balls more often than actually playing tennis.
If you want to improve your game, you need to be able to keep up. You cannot seem completely useless on the court. Maybe, at first, you don’t seem as comfortable to play at your opponent level, but you can still return the balls and you can make some adjustments to keep the rally going. This way you can slowly adjust your game, bring it up on your opponent’s level and get better.
How often do you want to practice with better tennis players?
Playing with a slightly better partner is always good. It teaches you how to hit the ball harder, how to move and react faster and how to use and profit from any slight chance you might get on the tennis court. Even though you really want to play with good players as often as possible it is recommended to play with weaker players as well. First, a better player will always put pressure on you. Playing with a better opponent means that most of the time you will be defending and letting your opponent set the pace of the game. While playing with weaker players you do the exact opposite. You learn how to set the pace. With weaker players you can afford to try and practice new stuff (like going to the net for example).
While practising only with better players after a while you will notice that suddenly you struggle to play points with weaker opponents. It is because you are not used to play at lower speed and not used to set the pace. Because of always playing with better opponents, you became used to play under pressure and in a defensive position.
We at the Corralejo Tennis Academy always recommend to play with everybody. You can learn from every game and from every minute you spend on a tennis court. Don’t be too picky about your practice partners. Once a better player plays with you, you should return the favour and also play with a weaker player. Tennis is all about having fun. And you can have fun no matter who you play with.