Playing tennis matches regularly substantially improves match play ability. Hitting tennis balls or playing points for fun is great for working on specific tennis strokes. However, the benefits of playing matches are even greater if matches are structured to push a player out of his or her comfort zone. Playing in a seasonal tennis ladder provides such a structure!
There are certain aspects of tennis that are difficult to simulate while practicing. Match toughness is one of them. Knowing when to take risks and how to manage points only comes from playing matches. As you play more matches, it becomes easier to pinpoint your technical weaknesses. For example, if you can hit that put-away volley in practice, but not when it counts in a match, the more you can take that shot in a match, over time, the easier it will become to actually make it work in your favor. I find playing a close singles tennis match to have the equivalent benefits of more than 3 practices (about 4 to 5 hours of practice).
Concentration is one of the hardest aspects of tennis to practice. Even the most disciplined club players have trouble focusing during a casual hitting session. The nice thing about hitting tennis balls or just playing for fun is that there is always another ball coming or another point to play (up until when you have to leave). Typically, concentration drops as we fatigue. Playing a match puts players in situations where they have to focus on winning, whether it's winning the next point, the next game or set. Playing in ladder or tournament provides a great way to practice concentration, which also helps outside of tennis.
One of the benefits of playing tennis is connecting with friends. Playing matches is great a way to meet people and make new connections. After joining a ladder, you will probably get the chance to meet new friends. Playing in a doubles ladder, where players are ranked individually, allows you to team up with different partners. This makes it easy to try different team combinations before league play begins. If you are good player, give back and challenge someone lower ranked than you. Your opponent will appreciate it and will very you likely earn more points and move up the ladder.
Playing in a ladder provides you, the player, with a structure to compete as much or as little as you wish. Being challenged or challenging someone forces you to schedule and play a match. By agreeing to a ladder match, you are forced to block the time on your calendar and commit. Sometimes, we all need a little motivation.
Having a goal goes a long way in achieving progress. This is particularly true in improving your tennis game. A player, may want to set his or her goal to move up the ladder 3 spots. Or, a player may want to reach the #1 ranking in the ladder. Another goal may be to just have fun and meet other players. Playing in a ladder provides you with a concrete way to set and meet tennis goals. Players have more fun, focused, and targeted practices knowing that they have a match coming up.
The iTennisLadder makes it easy to organize tennis ladders with well defined tennis ladder rules. The built-in ranking systems allow players to be as competitive as they wish. Want to play doubles with mutliple partners? no problem, just join a points-based doubles ladder. Don't limit yourself by using a tennis ladder Excel spreadsheet or a tennis ladder template to manually manage your ladder. If you are using outdated software, it's time to upgrade. Try iTennisLadder, the tennis ladder software!