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If you are serious about wanting to play better tennis, you may want to train like a boxer.

I have counseled many tennis players, boxers and martial artists. In addition, am an avid tennis player. I was involved with boxing and the martial arts as a child and have recently resumed training in what fight fans call "the sweet science."

Here are thirteen reasons why boxing will make you a better tennis player:

1. Boxing, like tennis, is all about balance and good footwork. Any boxer will tell you that you can not do anything if you give up your balance. The same holds true for tennis. Great players have great feet.

2. Tennis requires great stamina. Once you can spar three or four three minute rounds, you will discover that you have excellent stamina for long points and long matches.

3. The speed bag is a good way to improve your timing, focus and your hand-eye coordination. In boxing, you need to know where your hands are all the time. In tennis, the ball travels in the direction of your hands. The speed bag can help you to improve focus, timing and awareness of your hands. Mastering the speed bag can be quite helpful in improving your volley and your reactions at the net.

4. Great boxers have great rhythm. Just watch their hands and their feet. Boxing gyms always have music with a beat playing in the background for a reason. Similarly, a tennis players require a great sense of timing and rhythm so they can strike the ball at the optimal time.

5. Jumping rope is a favorite exercise amongst fighters. Tennis players who jump rope can improve their footwork and their balance. Being light on your feet is particularly useful when returning serve and when running down balls.

6. Some years ago, I played a tennis player who was a black belt in Karate. I noticed that he was particularly good at reading where I was going to hit the ball. When I asked him if his martial arts training, which is similar to boxing, was helpful, he said it definitely was. He remarked, "When we spar, we have to read our opponent's body language to determine what they will do next. This kind of anticipation is vital in tennis as well.

7. Boxers have a mantra. "Make him miss and make him pay." This same mantra is useful for tennis players.

8. Boxers, like tennis players, need to exploit openings and weakness when they see them.

9. A slugger in boxing is analogous to a big hitter or a big server in tennis. A player who retrieves and returns every ball is much like a counter puncher is the sport of boxing. Tennis players can benefit from deciding what kind of player they would like to be. Some players, who have all court games, can be both sluggers and counter-punchers.

10. Power in boxing comes from leverage, using your legs and transferring your weight. Power in striking a tennis ball is generated in much the same way and many of the same muscles which are utilized in boxing are utilized on a tennis court.

11. A defensive tennis player who retrieves every ball is much like a counter puncher in the fight game.

12. If you get anxious before a tennis match, the anxiety you are likely to experience before getting into the ring with someone who wants to tear your head off, will make a tennis match seem like a walk in the park.

13. Boxing can help you to develop more mental toughness and physical toughness on the tennis court. If you can manage the threat of a physical beating, you most certainly can handle the stress of a tight tennis match.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist and the Founder of Stay In the Zone. Dr. Granat coaches top athletes from around the world on the mental aspects of competing in sports. Golf Digest named him one of America's Top Mental Gurus. He is the author of many books and programs including Zone Tennis and How To Get Into The Zone With Sport Psychology and Self-Hypnosis. Dr. Granat has appeared in many major media outlets including Tennis Magazine, ESPN, Good Morning America, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He is available for coaching and seminars and can be reached at or at 888 580-ZONE.

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