Tennis by Mind

This is a method for early study and teaching of tennis. It is intended for 25-65 year olds, using a form in which older people have advantages over youngsters. The method relies on various components that are related to use of consciousness, led by guided imagery.

Candidates for using this method include:
People who are about to begin playing for the first time.
People who have just started to play.
People who have started and left.
… And those who have learned a little tennis a long time ago and are continuing to play without significant improvement in their playing level.

Purpose of the method:
Realizing, as much as possible, the tennis playing potential of a new trainee at an early stage of study, using methods that increase self-awareness of the way in which the trainee performs basic actions. Providing self-scrutiny ability while playing, thus achieving an ability to improve one’s own tennis abilities. These aim at forming a sense of achievement and progress from the very first stage. Success in this stage leads to a wish to continue and eventually leads to pleasure and persisting in the sport as an amateur for many years.

General measures for implementing the method:
Based on the strongest properties of adults, such as: better ability to understand the theoretical and biomechanical aspect of the game and better ability to increase concentration as necessary.
A high percent of success occurs when two basic assumptions are fulfilled:
  1. Trainee has reasonable athletic ability for his age.
  2. A wish to pay for tennis studies at a later age, usually indicating serious intent to make a physical effort (and an intellectual effort too in this case), which usually connects with the self-discipline that is required to achieve the goal.


Stage A

The purpose of this stage is to allow the trainee to be as aware as possible of the complex physical actions that are required of him before actually doing it, to facilitate the need to combine (when the practice beings) the ability to concentrate simultaneously on the ball trajectory and at the same time to perform the required movements of the limbs and backbone. Being able, in the end, to time all these movements to the point of hitting the ball (impact zone) in a manner that will ensure a successful hit.
The complexity of these tasks often defeats progress at early stages, leading to a sense of failure resulting in many trainees quitting tennis.

At this stage, extensive use is made of methods that require concentration and guided imagery.

Practice stages:
  1. The trainee receives a short explanation on the stages that the method contains.
  2. The trainee receives an explanation on the ready position for hitting and its importance. After this, the improvement in reactions relative to the beginning of the movement from a position of standing straight with licked knees is demonstrated.
  3. The trainee receives an explanation on the order of actions for each part of the body that result in a hit, by type, in a manner that follows the trainee from head to toe. This must be performed patiently, making sure that the trainee understands the important of the movement of each part of the body and how it is related to the quality of the strike.
  4. The trainee receives an explanation on the impact zone and its importance, with a tangible simulation of the hit (sensation of resistance to the racquet) and at a later stage undergoes a process of memorizing the imaginary area in which this must be performed. This process is repeated with decreased intensity in stages B and C of the practice.
  5. The trainee memorizes all of these stages until he can repeat them from memory.
  6. The trainee stands on the base line and slowly performs a sequence of actions that constitute the hit without a ball. This is performed while stating out loud the order of actions of each organ in the body until achieving stable, continuous movement for the hit.
  7. Simulation of the hitting action at a true hitting speed (quicker than the previous stage) while maintaining the balance of the body until the movement is complete.
  8. At this stage, the trainee imagines a ball approaching him. The trainee “runs” through his mind the motion of the ball and ‘reacts’ to the ball using the movement that he practiced in the previous stages.
  9. The trainee repeats this action while ‘speeding up’ the ball approaching him in his imagination and improves his movement and pace until achieving performance with a smooth flow.
  10. At this stage, the trainee serves himself (by bouncing)a real ball, in order to hit a quick power shot to the base line of the other side of the court while maintaining his balance at the moment of striking.

Stage B

The purpose of this stage is to serve as an intermediate stage between the stage emphasizing practice of consciousness and the stage in which the ball is continuously served to the trainee.

Here, the coach uses an assistant for help.
At this stage, the ball is passed to the trainee from the other side of the court by the assistant. The coach stands behind the trainee. While the ball is approaching the trainee, the coach chooses to stop the hit movement of the trainee by calling out STOP. The trainee must freeze (and let the ball pass) as soon as he or she hears the call, and by doing so, understand with the help of the coach what his body position should have been when the call was made. This action gives the trainee a true feeling for errors in body position at the time of the strike. This stage is very important because here the trainee receives “live” feedback (as opposed to a video playback).
This is a way to begin a process that increases awareness of errors in almost real time and an ability to learn from and correct one’s own mistakes.

Practice stages:
  1. Performing the action while hitting the ball in a standing position and moving only the leg that is used for leaning.
  2. A hit that requires only one step.
  3. A hit that requires two steps.
  4. A running hit.

Stage C

This stage is similar to a “traditional” tennis practice, with one major difference. During the passes of the ball, the coach comments (by calling out errors) to the trainee to correct himself on the move. At the beginning of this stage, the trainee may well “go a little crazy” from the stream of comments. After a brief adjustment period, he or she starts developing an ability of correction on the move, while being awareness of body situation, as opposed to the common method of commenting by stopping the practice and talking about corrective actions before resuming play.


The practice is suitable for mature adults and leads to rapid results in the first stages of study. The essence of the practice is built on the ability of intelligent adults to use their concentration and internalization ability to learn the biomechanical principles of the game at an early stage. Stage C of the practice increases the awareness of the trainee to body situation in all stages of movement as a result of ability that develops from increased concentration. The ability to pass stage C successfully also serves as a means of improving tactical aspects for the trainee (as demonstrated in couple tennis), which are promising by themselves. After the practice period, this awareness leads to a self-correction routine and improvement in friendly matches with colleagues.

Reuven Riznensky
5 Hamekubalim St., Neve Amirim
Herzliya 46447

For the sake of convenience, masculine gender has been used in this text. All references to masculine gender also refer to the feminine.