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The Importance of Being Consistent

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

During all of my years as a coach, I've been able to test how the majority of players that come to me to improve their tennis level and especially their results in competition have the same problem: The lack of consistency. In this article I will explain why consistency is the fundamental key for a player to improve in all other aspects of their game.

Every time I go to a tournament where there are many young competitors between 12, 14 and 16 years old, I find myself surprised with the extreme lack of consistency they possess. When I speak to their parents or with the players, they assume that the reason is mainly technical, when most of the time is not. How many times do we see players with nice strokes, good technique but that at the end of every point they finish with an unforced error? And we also find the opposite, players with an average or unorthodox technique that make very few mistakes and end up winning matches giving the sensation that they haven't done anything to deserve the win. Obviously the lack of consistency can be due to technical problems, but when the technique is good and there is still no consistency, the problem is much more simple: trying to play over their capacities.

Players who lack consistency try to hit the ball at a much higher speed that they can control, they try to play winners in difficult situations and they don't have the necessary patience to set up the point and find the correct moment to attack and be aggressive.

To correct this problem we have to understand that consistency and being solid means playing within our capacities, accept what we have and to be realistic. If a player is not capable of making 30 deep shots at a 70% pace, how can I expect them to be aggressive and look for down the line winners in a match? If a player is not capable of hitting 15 cross court backhands at an 80% pace, how can I ask him to hit angles and change directions with the backhand? When players have unreal expectations in their strokes (play faster, harder, more aggressive than they are capable of) their consistency decreases.

In order for players to improve their consistency, they have to slow down their pace until they can find a comfortable rhythm in which they can hit 25 to 30 balls in each rally and exercise, this way players will feel more control in the situation, they will improve and also automatize their movements and strokes. When this is done, the player's confidence increases (consistency is the first aspect of the game that helps to have confidence) and just like a touch of magic the player starts to hit the ball stronger and to increase his rhythm of play. This process of working at a slower pace is what will make the player improve much faster.

djokovic, federer, murray and nadal
The 4 players that have dominated this era have also been the most consistent.

During my time as a player I had the great luck to share training sessions with many elite players (David Ferrer, Marat Safin, Dinara Safina, Sara Errani, and many others) and it was always really impressive to see how hard the hit the ball, but what was more impressive was the control and consistency they had over their strokes. To be able to achieve a high level of tennis and hit really hard shots like these players, one has to first put a lot of ball in the court with good technique and learn to control the shots at a manageable rhythm during the development stages.

In tennis there are stages and steps, and I firmly believe that a player will never progress adequately if he doesn't have a consistent game base. In too many occasions parents of young players and even the players (generally between 12-16 years old) come to me believing they are not having results because they should hit harder, be more aggressive, play more inside the court or look for more winners, when in reality the majority of times players just need to improve their consistency.

There are many aspects of the game that are important to develop and work on like for example:

  • Learning to defend correctly with strength and 99% of the times cross court.

  • Attaching the ball inside the court the the opponent hits short balls.

  • Learning to open the court with good cross court shots or angles to place the opponent off the court.

  • To change the heights in a point to make the other player uncomfortable and break their rhythm of play.

  • Learning to shorten plays by coming into the nets in the right occasions.

All of these aspects are important for the improvement and evolution of a player, but they can only be worked on and develop if the players has reached a consistent base first.

#ConsistencyIsTheKey #NoPainNoGame #StepByStep


Spanish Version


Durante todos mis años como entrenador, he podido comprobar como la gran

mayoría de jugadores que han venido para mejorar su nivel de tenis y especialmente

sus resultados en competición, tienen el mismo problema: La falta de consistencia.

En este artículo explicaré porque la consistencia es la pieza fundamental para que un

jugador pueda mejorar todos los demás aspectos del juego.

Cada vez que voy a un torneo donde compiten jugadores jóvenes, de 12,14 o 16 años

me sorprende la extrema falta de consistencia que tienen. Cuando converso con los

padres o los propios jugadores, asumen que la razón es de origen técnico, cuando la

mayor parte de las veces no lo es. ¿Cuántas veces vemos a chicos jugando un partido