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View Full Version : Dealing with frustration - your views, please.


ferreira
09-08-2004, 07:42 AM
Tennis is all about frustration. Likely the most difficult sport to master. Therefore the passion it provokes.
I confess, I sometimes have serious issues in dealing with the frustration of giving a 5.0 a sweat on one day and struggling against a 3.5 the next. I consider to have just reached a solid 4.0...or did I?
Is it the different pace? Is it because I'm tired? Or is it just plain reality, with which I must just get used to? I think I know the answer, but I'd really like to hear form you.

Bungalo Bill
09-08-2004, 10:36 AM
Ferreira,

The only thing I can say with regard to playing excellent one day and horrible the next is to not focus on the outcome.

Instead you can turn negative frustration into positive motivation if you view tennis as a journey instead of an end result. There is a lot of pressure on the aspiring tennis player to hit hard and to "play like Agassi". I think we coaches need to learn to slow our students down and teach them how to enjoy the journey of learning and growing in a very difficult sport to master.

If players would recognize that tennis IS different at the pro level, they would realize that it takes a lot more to play this game correctly than just working on your backhand. You will be easier on yourself if you realize that being able to confidently beat every player regardless of level takes time.

It is not necessarily the level of player you lose to but the KIND of ball they hit that gives you difficulty.

I think if you approach the game knowing that you have weaknesses and have considered a good strategic game plan BEFORE you play your opponent regardless of level, you will be more positive towards yourself if you lose that day.

I cant tell you how many times I woke up on the "wrong side" of the bed, feeling lethargic or had a hard time focusing and losing to a pusher type player or a player I should have easily beat. We all go through that. Pros go through that.

When you have a game plan and you don't execute that day, it becomes more positive when you look at your mistakes with this in mind:

1. Did you make the right shot selection but didn't execute the stroke (practice that shot)

2. Did you choose the wrong shot. (practice calling out to yourself if you should play defense or offense on a certain shot, learn what area of the court you're hitting from which will dictate your shot selection).

#1 is a physical error and #2 is a mental error. You can build your practices around improving these areas to play at a higher level in the future. This is a much more positive way to view your losses and even your wins.

When you see your game from this perspective you become your own coach providing both constructive feedback and encouragement.

It is never about shots, it is about how you approach the game.

ferreira
09-08-2004, 11:27 AM
Bill,
I think we tend to see accomplished amateurs and forget how much time they've put into practice and play. The seemingly "easy" shots are the hardest to master. This is no figure of speach, it is fact. According to the ITF's description of levels, touch and decent slice are only seen in solid advanced players, which I suppose would be at least 5.0. What I mean is, tennis is definitely not "plug and play". It's great to hear from others, especially at the highest levels like yourself, that this IS part of the game. Based on what you said, frustration is inevitable, but the best way to deal with it is not try to forget, but to analyze what went wrong.

Bungalo Bill
09-08-2004, 11:36 AM
Bill,
I think we tend to see accomplished amateurs and forget how much time they've put into practice and play. The seemingly "easy" shots are the hardest to master. This is no figure of speach, it is fact. According to the ITF's description of levels, touch and decent slice are only seen in solid advanced players, which I suppose would be at least 5.0. What I mean is, tennis is definitely not "plug and play". It's great to hear from others, especially at the highest levels like yourself, that this IS part of the game. Based on what you said, frustration is inevitable, but the best way to deal with it is not try to forget, but to analyze what went wrong.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as an "easy" shot that is based on speed of the ball, placement or level of player. An easy shot for you depends on what you practice. If you practice hitting only shots that are powerfully hit from your opponent, the difficult shot will be the slow one with no pace because you dont practice hitting that shot.

This is where a good coach comes in handy. He/she should feed you balls with different pace and spins so you can master your balance and execution of your stroke for any kind of ball.

Bungalo Bill
09-08-2004, 11:50 AM
Bill,
I think we tend to see accomplished amateurs and forget how much time they've put into practice and play. The seemingly "easy" shots are the hardest to master. This is no figure of speach, it is fact. According to the ITF's description of levels, touch and decent slice are only seen in solid advanced players, which I suppose would be at least 5.0. What I mean is, tennis is definitely not "plug and play". It's great to hear from others, especially at the highest levels like yourself, that this IS part of the game. Based on what you said, frustration is inevitable, but the best way to deal with it is not try to forget, but to analyze what went wrong.

That is a very subjective description of a high level player. It is not an absolute statement. Personally speaking I do not believe I have excellent touch or finesse. I have a power game and I have come to terms with that. I have tried to build into my game finesse and touch but that is not me - my game falls apart when I try. I can hit touch shots but not to the level of some other players do at a 5.0 level.

Plus, the strings that I use are not "touch" strings, I dont use them for that purpose.

Every player brings to the table what they are strong in and weak in. There is no doubt in my mind that the power I can apply to the ball is jolting to the other player - especially those with those lighter racquets.

However, when it comes to finesse and touch, I can not compete in that area compared to someone who is blessed with that ability.

A player with finesse and touch is a challenge to me. It challenges my patience, my physical fitness, balance, and my ability to stay calm and wait for my ball. I seek out players with touch because of those above reasons - it makes me a btter player.

thehustler
09-09-2004, 11:41 PM
I know what you mean. I played in a tourney a couple months back and I won my first match 8-0 since we were playing pro sets. I won in about 30 minutes. It was the best I had ever played. All my serves were great, I had maybe 2-3 errors the entire match, plenty of clean winners and I forced my opponent into really awkward situations. Now the next match I won 8-3 but didn't play nearly as well. More errors, serve wasn't as great, etc. I got all the way to the final, but on the way there each match I played I got worse, until the final where I couldn't hit the ball at all. That bothered me, but I use it as motivation to make sure it never happens again.

On the flip side I have a friend who was in the same tourney. He lost his first match (actual first match in a tourney for him) and he should've won it. He had the lead and a match point, but blew it in a tiebreaker. His 2nd opponent he crushed 8-0. The 3rd he lost in a tiebreaker again after being up 5-2. That deflated him and he 'retired with injury' before his 4th match. He has a hard time motivating himself, and he is too hard on himself. We've played probably 100 times and I've beaten him 99 of those times. We know each other well, but he refuses to learn. Frustration is what he seems to like rather than winning. He knows all my moves and I know his, but he falls for them and just gets frustrated and smashes some racquets. When he plays anybody else though he's totally different. He believes he can win and does. That part I just can't figure out.

I do agree with what BB said. Now if I could just get my buddy to read this maybe he'd start to play winning tennis on a consistent basis.

tennisplayer
09-10-2004, 01:47 PM
Great topic - hits me very close to home!

Of late, I have been trying to play with strategy, in every game. At the 4.0 level, I've found that strategizing is much easier than actually executing the strategy. There are many, many, times when I get exactly the situation I am setting up for - a short sitter, an open court, or an easy lob, etc. - but on some days, I can't seem to execute. For example, I'll get a sitter at midcourt, and I'll power it - hard - straight into my opponent's sweetspot, when I could have just as easily played it away from him with a safer, slower, shot. Or miss a DTL by inches. It is frustrating, but also very revealing. After the initial disappointment, I try to address my weaknesses. On the court, I never show my frustration, except for a few mutterings under my breath.

For now, my biggest weaknesses are:

1. Fitness. This affects shot quality, especially when I need it (end of a long/fast rally with lots of movement).

2. Shot selection. Don't hit a powerful shot that the opponent can easily get to while leaving a huge portion of the court open - he'll just block it and get a winner! Use the right amount of power/spin and maximize safety. Remember to cover the line for approach shots. And a bunch more...

3. Technique. My strokes tend to break down unexpectedly, especially the backhand. I know that I miss easy shots because of bad footwork (usually too close to the ball on the backhand, or not bending knees for low balls), bad contact (too flat, usually), bad preparation, etc.

I try and address these weaknesses as best as I can, with my limited time (and talent, of course!). But I really enjoy the quest, as BB calls it. To quote Boris Becker, "I love winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play!"

fastdunn
09-10-2004, 03:37 PM
I highly recommend the book "Inner game of Tennis".
It significantly reduced my frustration in tennis and other aspects of my life.
The key is to divide you with Self 1 and Self 2.
And then make self1 handle self2 with somewhat detached
interests and care..... It really enlightened me that I(self1)
do not have full control over self 2(another me),,,,,,,

Good luck,
FD

cervelo
09-10-2004, 03:51 PM
The toughest thing for me is understanding how to do the math during matches. It's not enough to stress over mechanics and why my favorite shot isn't working on any given day.

For example, I'm a lefty and I play a 3.5 righty with a great hook slice in the deuce court and a super-solid backhand volley. In comparison to his, my strokes are superior by "fundamental" standards. However, it took me months to figure out that I hafta take the ball early on the return in the deuce court. Just that one exchange means the match on many days. I'm not that great at taking the return early but I force myself to relax and accept that my missed returns will still pressure him in the long run.

RoddickOwnzYou
09-10-2004, 09:06 PM
I also struggle with frustration at times (i blame my dad for that, stinkin genes!) But the thing thats helped me the most (outside of a deep relationship with God) is realizing that improving is not gonna happen overnight. One day you may show flashes of brilliance, but the next you will return to a lower level of play. I play alot of golf as well, and i will dare to say that IT is the most difficult sport i have ever played, to master. Learning to control my anger on the course has helped me loads on the court. So to all you peeps out there struggling with frustration on the court, i suggest taking up golf...tennis will seem like heaven in no time :D

thehustler
09-10-2004, 11:08 PM
I had to deal with a bit of frustration tonight in a tournament final. For some reason I decided to start like a weenie. Not going for my shots, not trying to put a decent amount of pace on the ball, just playing tenative. I was lucky to frustrate my opponent with this though and took the first set 6-3. During the 2nd set we were on serve with me leading 2-1 and then there was a rain delay. We finished the match inside after a 10 minute wait and that delay helped. I sat down and realized what I needed to do. I knew I needed to be more aggressive, especially on serves and return of serve. I went out and did exactly that. I won the final 4 games in about 10 minutes, totally taking my opponent out of any rhythm that he was trying to get into. The one thing I can't figure out is why I can be really aggressive with my buddies, but not in tournaments. I've done 6 tournaments and a league and I won 4 of those tournaments and have the top record in the league. Somehow though nerves get in the way, no matter what round or what opponent and eventually they clear up, usually after the match. I'd love to know how to conquer this so I can play the game I know I can play the entire match, not just when I'm not feeling good about what I'm doing. Ah the joys of tennis.

cervelo
09-11-2004, 10:06 AM
Something that might help the nerves thing is to try and develop a very "aggressive" interest in what your opponent is doing to and with the ball. Even in warm-ups, notice the shots he/she hits, the type of spin, how close to the baseline they play ... I think that this perspective will also allow you to create an aggressive mindset because it takes the focus off of you and puts on your opponent ... When a certain shot of mine goes off, I'll try to analyze what my opponent is doing that's causing me to miss, rather than try and examine my own mechanics.

thehustler
09-11-2004, 11:30 AM
Oh believe me I do that. I try to scout each opponent I can before I play them. I try to notice things after a few games, see what shot is weak, how is his serve, etc. Sometimes I'm just trying to keep the ball in rather than going for it. It bugs me to no end, because if I do go for it I miss at times and I try to minimize the # of points my opponent can get. Sometimes when I get that set lead I am more aggressive and other times I hold back because I'm waiting to see if my opponent is going to surprise me. After a few games if they don't then I go for it to put pressure on him to beat me. Hopefully I'll get over this mental thing soon so I can just be myself and play the style of tennis I know how to play.

papa
09-11-2004, 02:36 PM
Tennis is an easy game to play but a difficult game to play well.

I've played a lot of golf and find it much easier than tennis in many ways. Now, I'm not saying that everyone can play golf well because that just isn't true but with practice most can play in the high 70's - low 80's - - many of you probably would not consider that "good golf" but if you count everything and don't roll the ball over I think its pretty good. I've slipped a bit over the years and with the new, longer courses (like many par 4's over 400 yards) its harder to score well.

Many tennis players are actually good golfers as well - I think its Henman (might be wrong on this) who plays a good round of golf.

papa
09-11-2004, 03:15 PM
Incidently, for anyone who thinks BB is a pushover, I've got some great ocean front property in Arizona for sale. I get the feeling he would blow most of us off the court even if we were to blindfold him and make him play righty.

NLBwell
09-11-2004, 11:18 PM
Get older, it doesn't matter as much then. Its the only thing that worked for me.

papa
09-12-2004, 06:15 PM
NLBwell wrote: "Get older, it doesn't matter as much then. Its the only thing that worked for me."

How old do you have to be - gee, I still care and I'm older than most of the trees around here.

Chris.L
09-16-2004, 03:38 PM
Well, everyone is different. I find that 'planning' and thinking up tactics before a match is tedious and confusing.... Also, it makes me 'think' too much on court and get even more irritated when things are not happening as i anticipated.

I don't go onto the court with any gameplan as such. I just get on the court with a clear mind. and know that if i play my SOLID groundstroke game my opponent will have to rally with me at the VERY LEAST. I am not special.... i have not amazing shots to speak of... i just hit the ball pretty hard and always aim to move my opponent around the court. Thinking and chaninging my game is very dangerous! --- infact.... playing a more tacticly intuned game led me to a losing streak!

Capitalize on your strengths ---- yes for sure. I always move around my backhand to hit a big shot to open up the court.... but aside from the very obvious shot selections.... i don't confuse myself with complicated match strategies.
This does not mean i have to be a braindead zombie on court..... i still recognise what my opponent is trying to do to offput me.... but i always thing.... just keep those groundies solid, deep and IN... and if not win.... you will at least make the ***** work for it~! ;)

Bungalo Bill
09-16-2004, 03:57 PM
Well, everyone is different. I find that 'planning' and thinking up tactics before a match is tedious and confusing.... Also, it makes me 'think' too much on court and get even more irritated when things are not happening as i anticipated.

I don't go onto the court with any gameplan as such. I just get on the court with a clear mind. and know that if i play my SOLID groundstroke game my opponent will have to rally with me at the VERY LEAST. I am not special.... i have not amazing shots to speak of... i just hit the ball pretty hard and always aim to move my opponent around the court. Thinking and chaninging my game is very dangerous! --- infact.... playing a more tacticly intuned game led me to a losing streak!

Capitalize on your strengths ---- yes for sure. I always move around my backhand to hit a big shot to open up the court.... but aside from the very obvious shot selections.... i don't confuse myself with complicated match strategies.
This does not mean i have to be a braindead zombie on court..... i still recognise what my opponent is trying to do to offput me.... but i always thing.... just keep those groundies solid, deep and IN... and if not win.... you will at least make the weener work for it~! ;)

It usually does bring about losses. That is trying to execute a game plan. But like anything it comes with practice. Determining a strategic matchup should not be a tedious process. It should not be something that you have to analyze so much that parallysis by analysis sets in.

A strategic matchup is simply finding out which matchup you believe you can score more points from. It does not mean you will score all the points.

Even learning to incorporate Wardlaw Directionals requires practice. You have to learn how to execute the Directionals through practice so it becomes second nature. Most club players are undisciplined to design and implement a game plan. If the very first point of a strategic matchup turns into a loss of point usually a club player will give up and think they have to do something else.

Having a game plan can have a dramatic impact on someones game if they are willing to go through the learning process. It helps you to not make the same mistakes over and over again. Like hitting down-the-line to the open court when there is little chance your going to get in a good position to cover the court you leave open.

If a player just wants to hit strokes that is perfectly fine but it does not mean that incorporating a game plan is the wrong thing to do for that player.

Like everything else, it all takes practice till it becomes second nature.

VTL
09-17-2004, 04:13 PM
I think a great way to improve your ability to handle frustration is to have kids! If you can reason w/ your kids, you can reason with yourself. With parenting, you have all these expectations for your children, and many times they will frustrate you. In those situations, if you can show them respect and trust in them that they are trying to learn rather than scream, scare them and make a lot of noise... then I see why not you can treat yourself with the same control and respect for yourself on the court

Bungalo Bill
09-17-2004, 04:24 PM
I think a great way to improve your ability to handle frustration is to have kids! If you can reason w/ your kids, you can reason with yourself. With parenting, you have all these expectations for your children, and many times they will frustrate you. In those situations, if you can show them respect and trust in them that they are trying to learn rather than scream, scare them and make a lot of noise... then I see why not you can treat yourself with the same control and respect for yourself on the court

Good one VTL, I have three myself (ages 8,6, and 4). It is not a walk in the park but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love my kids as they bring so much joy to my heart.

papa
09-17-2004, 05:39 PM
Yeah, VTL and BB - sounds like you guys have it together, I like that and see it as the most important role we ever get to play. Loved it the first time around (three) and now their kids (five). Treat them with respect and it will pay off - as you guy have said.

You can always tell if your on the right road if its up-hill and rocky. Seems like this should be attributed to someone but I have no idea who.

Baseline Basher
09-20-2004, 08:33 PM
Tennis is all about frustration. Likely the most difficult sport to master. Therefore the passion it provokes.
I confess, I sometimes have serious issues in dealing with the frustration of giving a 5.0 a sweat on one day and struggling against a 3.5 the next. I consider to have just reached a solid 4.0...or did I?
Is it the different pace? Is it because I'm tired? Or is it just plain reality, with which I must just get used to? I think I know the answer, but I'd really like to hear form you.

Sorry if somebody already used this quote, I'm too lazy to read two pages of posts.

Brad Gilbert once said, "Maybe five times a year, you're going to go out and be magic. And five times, you're going to go out and feel like sh-t. And all the rest of the matches, those are what make you a tennis player."

Illegal_edge
09-21-2004, 12:34 AM
When I am having a bad day or am frustrated on the court I usually show it all but before I go on to the next point I always tell myself "F**K THAT LAST SHOT!" This has helped me get the last terrible point out of my head and get focused on the next shot. Since I started doing this I have found that I am beating myself less and less.

papa
09-21-2004, 06:09 PM
Well, BB has said it on several occasions, that you have to study the game to be good at it. Best advice anyone could ever give anyone because your only going to go so far on raw talent - which I think everyone has to some degree or another.

I also think a game plan can be very simple (especially for those of us not playing at the top levels) - it does not have to be a complicated set of instruction that quide us through every shot or situation encounted. Simple plan might be to just watch the ball leave your racquet on serves or keeping the head down on ground strokes - anything that makes us play more consistently.

kevhen
09-23-2004, 07:15 AM
You do want to watch your opponent during warmups to see what they might be weak at, but then you do still want to start the match, playing your normal, natural game (moving the ball around). But if you are losing doing that, then you will need to change things up. I will usually start out by attacking my opponent's backhand side. If his backhand is solid, I may go at his forehand. I will throw in heavy topspin and heavy slice to see if he struggles with either shot on either side. If he still gets everything back, I will try taking the air out of the ball and force him to provide his own pace. I will also hit shorter and bring him to net and see how good his volley and net play is. If he has no weaknesses, I go back to my normal game, and will just try to outrally and focus more on holding serve and not getting frustrated.

It's sort of like a pilot's checklist and maybe I should have one at major matches to check off my opponent's strengths and weaknesses during changeovers. But sometimes by the end of the match, a good opponent has adjusted and starts covering up some of his earlier weaknesses and that's when it gets difficult to close out the match.

Bungalo Bill
09-23-2004, 09:58 AM
Tennis is all about frustration. Likely the most difficult sport to master. Therefore the passion it provokes.
I confess, I sometimes have serious issues in dealing with the frustration of giving a 5.0 a sweat on one day and struggling against a 3.5 the next. I consider to have just reached a solid 4.0...or did I?
Is it the different pace? Is it because I'm tired? Or is it just plain reality, with which I must just get used to? I think I know the answer, but I'd really like to hear form you.

Sorry if somebody already used this quote, I'm too lazy to read two pages of posts.

Brad Gilbert once said, "Maybe five times a year, you're going to go out and be magic. And five times, you're going to go out and feel like sh-t. And all the rest of the matches, those are what make you a tennis player."

Hail Brad Gilbert! Excellent information. Kind of puts reality back into the equation. That is why when people say you have to win a certain level tournament to be deemed a certain level, I think that is a bunch of junk.

If I am out at a tournament, and see a player losing but has the shots and can keep the match competitive, even if they dont win the tournament or are knocked out of the first round doesnt mean they dont belong there or shouldnt be rated at that level. I think a lot of people who say you have to win the tournament to be rated at a certain level are sandbaggers. They are afraid of getting their butt kicked.

This player could be having a bad day, or a normal day. It is a lot like saying if a pro doesnt win a tournament he shouldnt be rated a pro. Lots of "extra" things come into match play. It does not mean a hill of beans if they dont win the trophey. If they are good enough to keep the match challenging then they should be entering the level they are at no matter the outcome.

ferreira
09-23-2004, 10:57 AM
"Maybe five times a year, you're going to go out and be magic. And five times, you're going to go out and feel like sh-t. And all the rest of the matches, those are what make you a tennis player."
Great quote. It brings to mind the importance of establishing "the rest of the matches" as standards for comparison, and not the magic days. As a matter of fact, the magic days kind of get in my way. Right now, for example, my serve got kind of messed up because of trying to replicate what I did on a day that I served WAY above my average. The fact is, I'm having trouble recovering my previous form, which was pretty decent. Go figure.