What to Do When You Stink at Tennis?

Like mother like daughter?

Like mother like daughter?

You have plenty of options, but cursing a blue streak and breaking rackets should be left to the professionals. To determine your best option -- if you really stink at tennis and not simply being self-deprecating -- you have to focus on the reasons you play the game. Are you playing tennis because you genuinely like the sport and get to play with your best friends every week? Or are you suffering at tennis because your in-laws expect you to play mixed doubles?

Take Lessons

There's no substitute for expertise. If you stink at tennis, invest in lessons. The fundamentals of tennis -- a sound grip, solid footwork, the swings for a forehand backhand and serve -- are best learned under the tutelage of player who knows the game thoroughly and can communicate it to you in an understandable way.


The person who said "practice makes perfect" might have been delusional. But practice will almost-certainly make your tennis game less malodorous. The quality of your practice is much more important than the number of balls you hit. Have a plan and a target for each shot. Work on specific weaknesses and analyze the results of your shots. Try to make practice fun -- for example, pretend you playing at Wimbledon with royalty cheering you on. It practice is a pain, you're unlikely to spend enough time at it to notice much improvement.

Adjust Your Attitude

You don't have to be a great player to enjoy the game. You don't have to be a great player for other people to enjoy playing with you. But if you give off the odor of unhappiness or embarrassment with your game and your surroundings, you don't do anyone any favors. Besides, you might not stink as much as you think. Improving the mental element of your game can raise the level of your play. Block out negative thoughts if you miss a shot. Control what you can control. Focus on hitting the ball solidly and don't worry so much about the outcome. That's what the best players in the world try to do.


No one is forcing you to play tennis, are they? If you are playing out of a sense of obligation, or if you simply don't like the sport, toss the racket in the attic or donate it to charity. Find something else you like better -- maybe you're a runner or a golfer or a swimmer at heart. Sports are for fitness and fun, so enjoy an activity that makes you feel like a kid again.

About the Author

Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.

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