Many tennis coaches are practicing the strokes of their players, tactical patterns, physical things, and also mental aspects. In most cases, players aren't practicing anticipation.
What is anticipation exactly? Anticipation means that you are in preparation for something to happen. You can practice this!
In the picture below, Sebastiaan and Stan are doing anticipation exercises.
I've listed 3 ways to improve anticipation on the tennis court.
1. Movement anticipation
This means anticipation of the movement of the opponent.
Before the opponent is hitting the ball, you can already see his movements and you probably know what shot he is going to play. It will be more difficult when your opponent uses camouflage.
A well-known example is when your opponent is hitting a drop shot. Before he hits the drop shot, you can already expect it, if you watch the movement of his racket. No backswing or a little back swing is mostly a sign that a drop shot is coming. Before your opponent is hitting the drop shot, you are already on your way to reach for the ball.
2. Ball flight anticipation
This means that you recognize the ball flight of the shot of your opponent very early.
As soon as the ball leaves the racket of your opponent, you already know the ball flight.
For example, when you see the ball going up, you step into the court in order to hit a drive-volley. Another example is that you perceive very early in which direction, left or right, your opponent is going to hit the ball.
3. Situation anticipation
This means that you know what your opponent is going to do in a certain situation.
For example, when you hit a high topspin ball to the backhand of your opponent, you already know that your opponent has trouble with high contact points on his backhand.
Before your opponent is going to hit the ball, you already move inside the court because you expect a weaker, shorter ball.
Practicing anticipation is not only important for high performance players, but also for club players. When you practice these 3 ways to improve your anticipation, your results in matches will go up.