When Setting out a Plan: Be Specific

What if the only barrier between where you are now and where you want to be is simply the lack of a specific plan? Perhaps there is a change you’ve been wanting to make on the court or in your own life but it continues to allude you. On some level, I think this was one of the primary reasons I never integrated the transition game into my tactical plan in matches until recently. When some people mentioned the idea of coming to the net it sounded unrealistic. “That’s just not my game,” I thought. I had no specific image on how this would happen. When I heard it (usually from my father) it was a pipe dream. I had no idea when I would do this, not to mention the fact that I didn’t think I really even had a volley.

But a few months ago I met someone who was a lot more specific with me. “You’re crazy not to come into the net with that forehand of yours. Have you ever noticed how many short balls you get in a match? I want you to pound that forehand into their backhand and close the court. Get in and knock off an angle volley.” And that’s what I did. It worked too. After 33 years I was attacking the net in matches, breaking the baseline pattern I grew accustomed to my entire life–at least until the next match. It’s a match by match challenge to break old patterns. When I don’t do it, it makes me want to try to do it the next time. Change does take time and commitment.

I think too often we think about doing something different but we don’t break it down enough. Maybe we don’t really want to go out of our comfort zone. Too risky we think. We believe we will always do better with the old reliable game, even if it’s not working to the degree that might be possible. Perhaps we just don’t know enough about all of the options available to us. Perhaps nobody is there to guide you through the process. But, with a little thought and really breaking something down into into its smallest pieces, things become more manageable. And enjoyable. Nothing new here, really. Perhaps just a reminder that this works really well for your tennis game too! The focus that can emerge from a specific plan is satisfying. It can create a flow state because you are getting more absorbed into the moment at hand. It can also focus you on your practice sessions and how you structure them.

All great things are built from details. Take anything in your life that you would like to do more or less of and break it down: If you want to be fitter decide which days you will go, how long you will work out, what exercises you will do, and how you will reward yourself. If you want to be more consistent decide what kind of “rally ball” you will use, where you will hit the ball and have a specific “cue” in mind on your shots to keep you focused on good mechanics. Picture these rallies in your mind. If you want to come in more then decide which shot you will use and where you will hit it and, as I did, where you will volley the ball.

Be specific with your plan and let me know if anything shifts in your approach, mindset and results.