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View Full Version : I STINK in my first set


Skinny Dip
08-22-2004, 07:49 PM
Wow - this has gone beyond frustrating. I've been playing (on and off) for 30 years and have never had this problem before. But for the last 5 months playing 3 times a week, every (and I mean EVERY) first set I play I get blown out. Typically 6-0, 6-1 up to 6-2.

Most often I come back and take the next 2 sets, but I can't to a freaking thing during the first one. I seem to mishit, and miss my shots wide, long, or in the net all by a few inches.

And yes, every time I come out, I plan to play conservatively, hitting my shots with pace 3 feet within the lines etc. But even so, I end up getting pushed around and have to get back into a more aggressive mode and miss and mishit my shots.

Typically I'll come back and win the second set by a similar margin, and then most often the 3rd set by a tighter margin.

But since this happens EVERY time and just started maybe 5-6 months ago, I'm absolutely mystified (and horrified). Has this happened to anyone else? Or anyone else you've even heard about?

goober
08-22-2004, 08:09 PM
maybe you need to warm up more :?:

I usually play bad the first set if I take off a long time from tennis and start playing again.

TwistServe
08-22-2004, 08:35 PM
I usually have problems the first few games.. I either get broken or should have broken the guy, but because of nerves or lack of rythym, I mess up.. But after a few games I can usually calm down and the blood becomes warm..

Bungalo Bill
08-22-2004, 10:57 PM
maybe you need to warm up more :?:

I usually play bad the first set if I take off a long time from tennis and start playing again.

Skinny,

Goober gave you a great and intelligent tip.

I think you need to warmup longer before you play as well. I had this problem and the problem would get magnified when I played someone who knew how to mix speeds a lot. I played more against myself then my opponent in the first set.

The eyes and feet have not really grooved yet and your swing will struggle because you are just not quite right.

Or you have too much energy and you overswing, or swing very fast for the ball you're hitting causing you to mis-hit etc.

If you warmup and break a sweat before you play, you will see big improvement in your first set.

Also, stay away from coffee if you are drinking some before the match. Even decaf has some caffeine in it.

FireSon
08-23-2004, 12:09 AM
Also, stay away from coffee if you are drinking some before the match. Even decaf has some caffeine in it.

Why is caffeine bad for your concentration?

Bungalo Bill
08-23-2004, 12:40 AM
Also, stay away from coffee if you are drinking some before the match. Even decaf has some caffeine in it.

Why is caffeine bad for your concentration?

I am not necessarily concerned about concentration, but having the "jitters". Your eyes tend to flicker back and forth without you being able to control it. Sometimes caffeine can really throw off your timing and execution because of how "nervous" it makes you feel. People tend to frame balls or mis-hit more on caffeine because their eyes dart around.

Since the eyes are darting around, when you're on the run they will seem like they are bouncing more than normal making it difficult to play.

I know of only a handful of people that can play real well on caffeine. The rest of us, if we are on it, need to let it settle out of our systems a little to regain our control - usually around the second set.

FireSon
08-23-2004, 01:07 AM
Well, this is making sense. Last saturday I had to play an early match and drank some coffee in order to wake up. During the match I had a hard time focusing on the ball, especially my volleys suffered tremendously. Never thought that the coffee could be an excuse :P but I think I got the "jitters" you described!

Thanks for the tip!!

vin
08-23-2004, 04:21 AM
Speaking of jitters, I get them a lot when I play in the morning. I don't drink coffee, I drink very little soda, and never before a match. Could it be food? Are there any foods that are known to cause jitters - or maybe a lack of a certain nutrient?

SkinnyDip, there's a nice warmup routine in Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Handbook that you can do at home before a match in less than 10 minutes. It may not be as good as hitting before a match, which is often impracticle, but it will at least give you a head start by getting your body warmed up. Then once warmups start for a match, you can immediately focus on getting your swing warmed up.

polakosaur
08-23-2004, 07:31 AM
start believing your good in the first set and you start out good, maybe you beat yourself before you even play the first set. Start believing your good in the first and play a good match.

Skinny Dip
08-23-2004, 10:22 AM
Actually I usually warm up a good 15-20 minutes before until I start to tire. And oddly enough despite having miserable first sets for oh the last 35 or so consecutive matches, I always feel like this one will be different.

But now that you mention it, I drink a pretty potent mixture of water, ginseng and vitamin C. And drinking that on my way to the match might be giving me the jitters. Maybe next time I'll try just the water and vitamin C, and take the ginseng in later sets as I start wearing down.

However I've used the same drink for the last few years, so ther must be more to it. Theory #3, maybe the Braden warm up would be a good idea also, since I maybe not moving well or freely enough until after being painfully embarrased in set 1. Hmm.

Can anyone send me info on pre-warm up warm ups? Thanks for the good ideas!

Bungalo Bill
08-23-2004, 10:24 AM
Well, this is making sense. Last saturday I had to play an early match and drank some coffee in order to wake up. During the match I had a hard time focusing on the ball, especially my volleys suffered tremendously. Never thought that the coffee could be an excuse :P but I think I got the "jitters" you described!

Thanks for the tip!!

Yeah it feels like your body wants to make everything go in fast motion, but you know better. It is like you split into two players and end up struggling. :)

Also, my breathing starts to speed up. I have to take a lot of deep breaths just to calm down. Sometimes I feel a bit asmatic if it is a long point. Sort of fighting to get ari in my lungs.

Definitely not good.

kevhen
08-23-2004, 10:25 AM
I don't think ginseng would be so good for tennis but haven't taken that in years and never for tennis.

Bungalo Bill
08-23-2004, 10:34 AM
Speaking of jitters, I get them a lot when I play in the morning. I don't drink coffee, I drink very little soda, and never before a match. Could it be food? Are there any foods that are known to cause jitters - or maybe a lack of a certain nutrient?

SkinnyDip, there's a nice warmup routine in Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Handbook that you can do at home before a match in less than 10 minutes. It may not be as good as hitting before a match, which is often impracticle, but it will at least give you a head start by getting your body warmed up. Then once warmups start for a match, you can immediately focus on getting your swing warmed up.

I dont know, it could be your nerves, or your inability to calm yourself and take deep breathes and exhaling.

Do you take any tylenol type medicines? Sometimes they have caffeine in them. I take Aleve EVERYTIME I play only because I will be stiff as a board if I don't. But that is a sign of age more than anything.

I dont know but it is something you should check into.

One of the best relaxers I do is I go out for a 3 mile jog before th match. I calm my brain and breathing. I dont know why, but the breathing from jogging develops a rhthym and I get a lot of oxygen in my system that helps me to calm down.

Oh, I almost forgot! I also take a supplement called CALM.

http://www.naturalcalm.net/images/calm-bottle-small.jpg

This is an excellent product and is not expensive and is very good for tennis. You can see it here: http://www.naturalcalm.net/article-mag-vs-calcium.shtml

This is not a "normal" pill supplement, totally different in how this works and it works good.

vin
08-23-2004, 11:45 AM
I'm pretty sure it's not nerves. It happens in the first set of insignificant matches and even during morning practices. And I don't take any medication at all.

I have a feeling it's caused by a low sugar level. Most of the time it happens is when I am playing shortly after eating breakfast. Maybe it's because there's not enough time for breakfast to digest.

I've found that I can get it to subside quickly if I have some gatoride, which I usually have for matches and practices anyway. What's interesting is that it's the same exact feeling as when I really am nervous. Now that I think about it, I remember Winning Ugly talking about 'sugar shakes' and nervousness all in the same breath.

Bungalo Bill
08-23-2004, 11:53 AM
I'm pretty sure it's not nerves. It happens in the first set of insignificant matches and even during morning practices. And I don't take any medication at all.

I have a feeling it's caused by a low sugar level. Most of the time it happens is when I am playing shortly after eating breakfast. Maybe it's because there's not enough time for breakfast to digest.

I've found that I can get it to subside quickly if I have some gatoride, which I usually have for matches and practices anyway. What's interesting is that it's the same exact feeling as when I really am nervous. Now that I think about it, I remember Winning Ugly talking about 'sugar shakes' and nervousness all in the same breath.

Yeah I know that feeling. It is sort of hard to get pumped up. I usually have an energy bar about a half hour before the match. I also put some water csoluable B vitamins in my cooler I take to the courts. It is good tasting and the "wakeup" feeling I get is great.

This comes in handy as many times I play at 7am.

Skinny Dip
08-23-2004, 01:25 PM
I don't think ginseng would be so good for tennis but haven't taken that in years and never for tennis.

I used to take Siberian Ginseng that worked great for endurance, but it stayed in my system too long and gave me problems sleeping. Now I take red Korean extract, and it helps with endurance, especially in the heat. But sipping on it before the match may be getting me too hopped up.

Without it I can barely get through 2 grueling sets, with it usually 3 (I'm in my late 40's). I won't mix it in my drink, just take it on the side maybe after the first set. Worth a try.

kaviar
08-23-2004, 02:41 PM
What i usually do is have the usual warmup, then play about 3-4 practice games at the same intensity as you are playing a match. Then when you hop on court for the match, it won't take long to get your eye in.

sanitarium
08-23-2004, 03:09 PM
I start slow as a player. I often drop the first game no matter what, even if i'm serving.

It can be difficult, sometimes are worse than others but I find that I am for the most part a 'slow starter', youre still warming up in the early games.

To be honest I dont get a good enough warmup out of the tournament '7 min warmups'

Skinny Dip
08-25-2004, 10:43 PM
OK I dropped the Ginseng before the match and seemed to get into the groove much faster. It was doubles so I can't be sure yet, but I seemed to straighten things out after 3 or 4 games this time.

Being amped up in the first set is definitely not the way to go.

kevhen
08-26-2004, 06:37 AM
Cool, I think ginseng is a little bit like caffeine in how it effects the body.

Laf
09-08-2004, 02:47 AM
for the last 5 months playing 3 times a week, every (and I mean EVERY) first set I play I get blown out. Typically 6-0, 6-1 up to 6-2.
Most often I come back and take the next 2 sets, but I can't to a freaking thing during the first one. I seem to @#$%, and miss my shots wide, long, or in the net all by a few inches.


THIS SOUNDS LIKE A PROBLEM ROGER TAYLOR(EX-GBR DAVIS CUP CAPTAIN) USED TO HAVE IN HIS PLAYING DAYS.
IT USED TO TAKE HIM AT LEAST A SET TO REALLY WARM UP AND BE READY FOR THE MATCH, WHICH MAY HAVE COST HIM HIS CHANCE OF WIMBLEDON SUCCESS ONE YEAR, WHEN HE LOST THE FIRST SET, THEN FOUND HIS GAME AND BEGAN TO PERFORM WELL, WHEN IT STARTED TO RAIN AND THE MATCH WAS CALLED OFF.
CONSEQUENTLY, WHEN THE MATCH WAS RESUMED, HE WAS UNABLE TO START WITH THE SAME VIGOR THAT HE FINISHED WITH AND LOST THE MATCH.


HAVE YOU TRIED SETTING YOURSELF MINI GOALS, PER POINT, PER GAME IN THE FIRST SET?
I HAVE DONE THIS MYSELF AND FOUND IT DOES WORK, ALTHOUGH YOU NEED TO PERCIVEER WITH IT.
FOR THE FIRST POINT SAY TO YOURSELF " IM GONNA WIN THIS POINT ON MY BACKHAND/FOREHAND", THE SECOND POINT SAY "IM GONNA WIN THIS BY BRINING HIM TO THE NET AND LOBING HIM", ANY LITTLE MIND SET LIKE THIS THAT WILL TAKE YOUYR MIND OFF THE FEAR OF LOSING THE FIRST SET AND COMPLETELY FOCUS YOUR GAME ONTO YOUR PLANS! :D