Welcome back to Tennis 101, where I'm offering tips to get you started playing tennis just in time for the 2009 US Open. You may be wondering: if I've never played tennis before, do I really need to take a lesson?
Though it's not required, taking a private lesson or attending a group clinic for beginners is the best way to start your tennis career. We may not all be as lucky as the girls in the photo, getting tips from professional tennis players Cara Black and Liezel Huber. But a good teaching pro will be able to hit the ball right to you, for whatever shot you are practicing. They can also offer detailed feedback on exactly what you're doing wrong. Even your best tennis-playing friends probably aren't that good.
To find out what to expect from your first tennis lesson,
- Decide if you want to take a private lesson or a group clinic. You'll get to hit a lot more balls in a private lesson, but it will also be more exhausting. A group lesson is a good option if you're on a budget; just find one that matches your skill level.
- Wear comfortable clothes, such as shorts or a tennis skirt, and appropriate shoes. You should bring a racket but you won't need your own balls.
- The pro will start by teaching a few tennis basics, like how to properly grip your racket.
- You'll probably learn how to hit a forehand first, followed by a backhand, and you'll practice them over and over.
- Hitting a tennis ball is much harder than it looks on TV, so don't get frustrated if at first you swing at a lot of air.
- Also, tennis lessons are tiring. If you're taking a private lesson, don't be afraid to ask for a break; it's your time, and the pro will be happy to oblige.
- The pro will quickly be able to tell you how to improve your swing, so listen to the feedback.
- In a private or group lesson, you're going to hit a lot of balls. Pros will often pause and ask you to move stray balls off the court that could cause someone to trip.
- At the end of the lesson — and sometimes during breaks — you're expected to help the pro pick up all the balls!
Have you ever taken a tennis lesson? If so, what surprised you about it?