Consistency is the foundation of our game. If you cannot keep balls in play, this game is not as much fun and success will be difficult at any level.
Recreational players mostly understand this and do anything to get the ball regardless. The result is not always pretty!
Advanced players, especially juniors, do not understand this and they try and hit as hard as they can and the result is very rarely pretty!
As always the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Yes, consistency is important, but only after the swing is in place. To focus on consistency immediately and before other foundational things are in place, such as contact, movement and a somewhat relaxed state of mind, is a recipe for disaster or certainly stagnation and arm injuries.
So recreational players need to first focus on themselves before they focus on what’s going on ‘out there’. In other words, get comfortable making contact with the ball and moving around before paying too much attention to where the ball is going.
More ‘advanced’ players need to focus more on ‘out there’. Once, you have a fairly decent swing, instead of jumping straight into trying to hit the ball like the pros, spend a ‘substantial’ amount of time hitting down the middle of the court and 3 feet over the net.
This step in the developing process is often missed altogether. I think, depending on how often you play, this step could last as long as 6 months to a couple of years.
Who has the patience? As this step is progressing you can still play matches and enter tournaments, but just keep balls in play and maintain your good swing and allow it to develop in a natural way. Avoid elaborate tactics and strategy and run everything down and focus on consistency, with a good swing.
In my understanding, this will lay a solid foundation for players and where they go from there will be limited only by their talent, determination and desire.
Enjoy the journey!