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We all know that young tennis players need to make efforts during training and practice to get their tennis skills improved. Mental focus means to put purpose on learning a specific skill during training or practice.

Generally speaking, each specific player’s mental effort is different according to their age or experience. The different skill level and difficulty of training tasks require different mental efforts. The more mental effort a player is forced to use when practicing a skill, or a combination of skills, the greater their chance of retaining those skills. For example, when practicing rallies, advanced players and beginners will have a very different mental focus on their movement around the baseline.

The book “Tennis Science” * gives coaches some good guidelines, and also gives young tennis players a right mindset during their practice. The main point of practice guidelines is: lower or unskilled players need simpler methods to train a single skill to master. This takes lower mental effort for players.  High skilled players need complex methods to train and master more skills to practice, therefore, they will make a higher mental effort.

For the “Skill level and Practice”, the book says: “the amount of practice variability will be significantly reduced for children and beginners learning tennis. It is important to give young learners plenty of repeat trials in the form of blocked practice. Equally, a more skilled performer may also need to practice in a more blocked manner when re-learning a skill or making a modification to an existing skill.

Practice Variability


Constant Practice: Basket fed, single skill (eg, forehand down the line). Simple practice requires lower mental effort.


Blocked Practice: 2 or more skills, blocked repetitions, drills (eg, 5 forehands then 5 backhands). Simple practice requires lower mental effort.


Variable (Blocked/Radom) Practice: Same skill with variations (eg, Forehand down the line, cross court, deep and short. Complex practice requires higher mental effort.

Advanced Player

Random Practice: 2 or more skills, random repetitions, games (eg, Serve, forehand, backhand, forehand, serve). More complex requires higher mental effort.

Understanding the relationships between skill level, mental effort, and practice variability, will helps coaches train young tennis players more efficiently.

Tennis Science: How Player and Racquet Work Together
Bruce ElliottMachar ReidMiguel CrespoOctober 26, 2015
University of Chicago Press

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