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7 tennis tips for beginners from top player Harriet Dart



7 tennis tips for beginners from top player Harriet Dart

With Wimbledon just around the corner, many enthusiastic beginner tennis players (myself included) will be buying themselves a racket, donning a tenniscore outfit, and hitting the court.

But despite how easy the pros make it look, this is a sport that takes a lot of patience and practice.

I was lucky enough to go to Paris for ASICS Rally For The Mind event a few weeks ago, where I got to see top players like Ons Jabeur, Matteo Berrettini, Alex de Minaur and Harriet Dart in action, all working with ASICS to help the people of Paris enjoy the mood-boosting benefits of tennis.

The Japanese tennis gear experts have a two-year partnership with Paris, which will involve the brand setting up free events to help Parisians (or anyone visiting the city) participate in activities that will positively affect their mental and physical health.

During my time at Rally For The Mind, I was able to sit down with British tennis player and ASICS athlete Harriet Dart.

Chatting to Harriet about what the message of movement as a mood booster that ASICS is promoting means to her, she said ‘I think honestly, whether you’re playing tennis or whether you’re going out for a walk, I think it’s really important just to get out. Movement is the key, whatever you’re doing, because everyone’s physicality is very different, and people enjoy doing different things. If you find something that you can enjoy, whether that’s going for a walk, going to play tennis, doing a Pilates session or doing a HIIT workout, I think it’s important just to get moving because of the influence that it has on everyone’s mental health.’

She added that personally, ‘I always feel so much better you know, even when I’ve been ill and sat in bed all day, just getting out for five to ten minutes really changes my mood’.

In order to (hopefully) improve my game this summer and show off in front of my tennis adept pals, I asked Dart for some of her top tips for those new to the sport and she did not disappoint.

7 beginner tennis tips from Harriet Dart

1. Take the time to warm up

    Harriet emphasises the importance of making sure ‘to get moving before you even get on the court, because tennis is so dynamic and athletic. And to prevent injuries and being sore afterwards’.

    It doesn’t have to be some long, laborious warm up, with Harriet adding that ‘it’s really important just to be warmed before – whether that’s a little bit of a jog for five minutes before doing some mobility. Just trying to get yourself moving and getting in the right kind of mindset as well to before you step out there.’

    2. Don’t let nerves get the best of you

      Starting something new is always nerve-wracking, but everyone has to start somewhere. And everyone needs to figure out how best to manage these nerves, or else we’d never be able to try our hand at something new.

      I asked Harriet how she deals with game day nerves, and she believes ‘everyone has their own unique way of getting into the zone, whether that’s with sport, with business or anything, but for me, specifically, you know, you have to remember that everyone is also feeling exactly the same way as you’.

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      She recommends keeping in mind that ‘sometimes you forget that other people are feeling the way you are, and just being able to accept the fact that you are gonna feel nervous but at the same time, putting in steps to help you feel more comfortable’.

      The way she minimises nerves? Harriet says she ‘loves to listen to music, or just kind of be in my own space or be within my own team. I have really positive voices around me and surround myself with good people’.

      3. Be open to learning as you go

        If you’re used to being good at a certain kind of sport, feeling like a beginner again can be frustrating to say the least. Harriet wants to remind beginners that ‘mistakes happen to us all. Professionals will make mistakes, no one’s perfect. You have to be willing to make errors and make the wrong decision to make the right decision. So for me, it’s just as long as you get yourself out there onto the court, you do the best that you can’.

        4. Take the time to rest in whatever way feels good for you

          Rest looks different for everyone, and while a bath or a Netflix night might be restorative for some, Harriet says, ‘I’m not very good at resting. I like to do a lot of Lego. I’m channelling my inner child, really’.

          Doing a mindful activity, such as Lego in Harriet’s case, is a great way to shift focus and unwind from a stressful day. As some of the more complicated boxes of Lego require a good amount of focus, it can be an excellent way to stay present and centred during moments you’re feeling a bit wound up.

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          5. If you use a fitness tracker, use it to your advantage

            While you definitely don’t need a fitness tracker to get into tennis, if you already have one it doesn’t hurt to use your stats to your advantage.

            Harriet wears a WHOOP Band, which she says ‘helps me and my team plan my weeks. Sometimes you might feel not great, but you actually can push a little bit more in your mind. Equally, you may feel like you really need to push, but actually, it’s a time to lay off’.

            6. Make sure you’re training off the court, too

              Tennis is a sport that works your entire body, so if you get really into it, you’ll need to make sure you’re doing some supplementary fitness to build strength and avoid injury.

              Harriet advises to keep in mind that ‘tennis has so many movements in comparison to other sports where you specifically will train one thing. We have to train seven different things, you know, core strength to upper body strength to lower body strength, to stability, to coordination to speed and agility’.

              ‘I think the most important thing for anyone who’s starting to play tennis is your core strength and your stability, as well to be on the court. Because if you have a really good base and foundation, then you know whether you’re running to a ball, you’re able to load properly, and use all the right muscles’.

              7. Protect yourself from the sun

                Tennis is usually played in the summer, meaning athletes have to be particularly careful with their sun protection, which means finding a good sunscreen that works with their skin type. Harriet’s go-to SPF is also a WH favourite: La Roche Posay Helios.

                La Roche Posay Helios is a lightweight sunscreen with factor 50 that is particularly good for sensitive skin types, and is sweat-resistant which is particularly important for days on the court.

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                Jessica O’Donnell is Women’s Health UK’s Ecommerce Editor, specialising in testing the latest and greatest launches in beauty, gym wear, fitness, health and nutrition, as well as finding the best deals during sales events such as Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day. Jessica is passionate about helping women choose products that will help them look and feel their best and looks after some of Women’s Health’s most important guides, including the best mattresses for back pain, the best fitness trackers, and the best bikinis for big busts (she’s got range!). Jessica has been a journalist since 2018, and her work can be found in publications such as ELLE Australia, Harper’s Bazaar Australia and Cosmopolitan UK. When she’s off the clock, Jessica can usually be found either nagging her friends to join her for a long run, bragging about her Oura Ring sleep stats, trying out a new Pilates studio or adding to the ever-growing stack of books on her bedside table. You can keep up with Jessica on Instagram @jessicajeanodonnell 

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