Part of becoming a better tennis player is being constantly cognizant of what type of player you are. When going into a match you must be conscious of what you are looking to accomplish and how you will execute your game plan.
If you would truly like to take your game to the next level, I strongly recommend that you take a couple minutes to ask yourself a few very easy, yet crucial questions. Firstly, “what type of player am I?” (What is your style of play?) Are you a moon-baller, steady baseliner, pusher, aggressive baseliner, serve-and-volleyer, all-courter, big server, hacker (love to slice everything)?
After you have figured out your style of play, you will start to figure out what your strengths are and what you need to do in order to get your opponent to play to those strengths and therefore, win points. You will also be able to recognize what your weaknesses are and how to mitigate your opponents’ ability to isolate them.
Additionally, something that goes hand-in-hand with your style of play is your shot tolerance. This is just a fancy way of saying, “how many balls can you keep in play during a point before you start getting antsy and need crack a winner?” Your shot tolerance is simply a number that goes anywhere from 1 – 100. Everyone, and I repeat –EVERYONE has a different shot tolerance number. To clarify, if Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse are both moon-ballers that does not necessarily mean they both have a shot tolerance of eight. Donald might be able to hit five moon-balls before he needs to end the point and Mickey might want to hit around ten or eleven before he even starts to look for a short ball and come in. Nonetheless a steady baseliner should most certainly have a higher shot tolerance than an aggressive baseliner. In other words, you should really try and correlate your shot tolerance with your style of play.
In conclusion, I strongly believe that most players could have a higher shot tolerance number (Some players are not even aware that they have one.) If you have not evaluated your shot tolerance lately, do not worry. This just means you have something new to work on! Keep in mind that if you start thinking about increasing your shot tolerance and correlating it with your playing style, you will start to win a lot more points and a lot more matches. I would like to highlight however, that I am not implying everyone should aim for a shot tolerance of 300. Be Realistic, and remember that everyone has a different number.
What I strongly recommend:
The next time you go out and play, do a quick analysis of how many shots it takes on average before you start to get impatient and try to end the point. This should be pretty quick and easy to figure out since we usually know ourselves pretty well. Just make sure you are being honest with yourself. Whatever your shot tolerance ends up at, lets say its 5 for instance; you’ll want to try and improve that by about 2 or 3 shots. The goal isn’t to increase it by 10 or 20 balls (that is not realistic.) If you simply become increasingly aware of what your style of play is and what your shot tolerance number is, you will be amazed at how many more points you end up winning by just cutting down the amount of errors by a few shots. After all, the game of tennis is won by making fewer errors than your opponent.
If you have any uncertainty in regards to what your shot tolerance should be, ask your coach what they think will best fit your game.