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View Full Version : What mental concept dramatically helped your game, once you got it?


Taxvictim
05-15-2007, 07:09 AM
There's another thread about what one thing really helped your game, but the options are all tangible actions, such as reading books or taking lessons.

Here's a twist: what mental concept dramatically helped your game once you "got it"? For example, my backhand improved tremendously recently when I started to think of "pulling" the racket instead of pushing it.

Can you think of a time you suddenly figured something out? Maybe something you heard a million times, but it never helped you until that day on the court when a light bulb went on inside your head?

Tony Robbins says the way to improve quickly is to copy not only the physiology of a successful person, but also his belief system. So what beliefs, thoughts, or ideas made you a better player?

Solat
05-15-2007, 07:15 AM
when i changed my game plan from hitting winners to forcing errors

kevhen
05-15-2007, 07:38 AM
That doubles is more about hitting the ball low over the net rather than hard over the net.

lordmanji
05-15-2007, 08:45 AM
"be aggressive."

crazysoccer00
05-15-2007, 08:53 AM
"Watch the Ball"
I never quite understood the importance of it.
But during last match I actually tried doing that and I could return serves much better and my ground strokes improved so much I was quite surprised

str33t
05-15-2007, 08:53 AM
That I'd rather lose playing hard and going for my shots than lowering myself to my opponent's level.

chris1992
05-15-2007, 08:56 AM
flicking my wrist on the forehand and concentrating on making the ball rise over the basline rather than just hitting all out.

skiracer55
05-15-2007, 08:58 AM
...don't think your way through a match. In that vein, one of my coaches, who is an Aussie and played on the ATP, said "Play the ball, not your opponent." Or, as one of the other Aussies said, some years ago, vis a vis Inner Tennis, "You play tennis on the court, not in your head."

johnny ballgame
05-15-2007, 09:02 AM
One point at a time, one shot at a time. Before, I couldn't help but think "3 more points" if I was up 5-2, 15-0 or something like that. That screwed me up I think. Now, I'm constantly reminding myself to just focus on the task at hand: the next point, the next ball.

Calm but focused, that's my mantra.

televisiontommy
05-15-2007, 10:18 AM
I always remind myself: "smooth = power". Swinging faster doesn't necessarily mean you hit harder.

On 1-H backhand I always remind myself to stay sideways and not open up my shoulders and body. Helps me keep from spraying the ball and mishitting off the frame.

Robbnc
05-15-2007, 10:25 AM
Stay loose.....have fun!

Supernatural_Serve
05-15-2007, 10:58 AM
Tennis is a game of errors. Consistency wins.

atatu
05-15-2007, 11:06 AM
That I'd rather lose playing hard and going for my shots than lowering myself to my opponent's level.

I'd say you're the exception to the rule. Most people who adopt this mantra don't get better, they lose all the time to more consistent players then say "oh well...I'd rather lose than...."

For me, it was the realization that griding out a tennis match isn't that difficult mentally. I was always weak mentally, then when I studied for the bar exam one summer I came back and thought "this is easy" and improved a lot.

sapient007
05-15-2007, 11:43 AM
don't under estimate. even if the other player looks like shiet during warm ups doesn't mean he/she can't whip your butt

stnick
05-15-2007, 11:49 AM
1) slow down and play deliberately and relaxed, controlling the pace,
2) to focus on the next point, not the last mistake, which channels my competitiveness in a positive direction. The key to this, I've found, is to understand the last mistake as not a mistake at all, but just another repetition in the long slow trial-and-error process of improving in tennis- it takes thousands and thousands and thousands of repetitions, of errors and successes to "groove" your game.

103xStateChamp
05-15-2007, 11:56 AM
1. Don't try to hit extra hard serves when hot girls walk past your court. :)
2. Think every shot is going in if you think your going to hit it out it will go out when you hit a big winner think it's going in.

Andres
05-15-2007, 12:05 PM
DON'T NET IT. Hit it long, in any case, but DON'T net it.

LuckyR
05-15-2007, 01:31 PM
I'd say you're the exception to the rule. Most people who adopt this mantra don't get better, they lose all the time to more consistent players then say "oh well...I'd rather lose than...."

For me, it was the realization that griding out a tennis match isn't that difficult mentally. I was always weak mentally, then when I studied for the bar exam one summer I came back and thought "this is easy" and improved a lot.

This is the best post on the thread, IMHO...

Geezer Guy
05-15-2007, 01:46 PM
You have to close out the match with whatever's working for you.

If you've been grinding it out from the baseline, don't try to serve and volley on match point.
If you've been hitting big shots and going for winners, don't get conservative and start pushing.
And if you've been pushing, don't start going for winners.

spot
05-15-2007, 01:57 PM
Watch the ball bounce. I sometimes would get caught looking at the opponent and where I wanted to hit the ball instead of just focusing on the ball coming up off of the ground. In fact my game is at its best when I stop watching the ball in mid flight- once the opponent makes contact I want to start looking at wherever it is going to land so that I can watch the ball come up off of the ground. Particularly on serves this was a major difference in my game. I can't tell you how much more consistently I hit when I just focus on this one thing.

nyc
05-15-2007, 02:02 PM
1. Pretend you're down when you're in the lead
2. Watch the ball
3. Have a plan

madmanfool
05-15-2007, 02:05 PM
I used to play matches to have fun, now i play to win. Cause if i win i can come back to play a second round:) That kinda helped.
I still need to learn to grind out more points and to play cross court as much as possilbe. Basically i'm trying to go from a "brain dead Gonzalez go for broke style" to a "be a nasty *** consistent grinding style from Canas".

Geezer Guy
05-15-2007, 02:13 PM
I used to play matches to have fun, now i play to win. Cause if i win i can come back to play a second round:) That kinda helped.
I still need to learn to grind out more points and to play cross court as much as possilbe. Basically i'm trying to go from a "brain dead Gonzalez go for broke style" to a "be a nasty *** consistent grinding style from Canas".

Actually, Gonzalez is making that transition himself. He's been playing much smarter tennis lately.

madmanfool
05-15-2007, 02:16 PM
Actually, Gonzalez is making that transition himself. He's been playing much smarter tennis lately.

Very true.

OrangeOne
05-15-2007, 02:27 PM
When I was doing my coaching course we had a lecture from a leading sports psychologist in Australia. He posed the following set of thoughts that he felt were common thoughts by a player before a match:

I'm playing John today, the last time I played him he beat me
AND we're on clay, damn it, I play better on Hardcourt
AND we're on court 7, a show court...if only we were on court 13
AND my knee is hurting like it always doesAnd he asked the group what all of those thoughts (there were even more in his example) had in common...and we tried and tried, and didn't get it.

You, as a player, can change none of that in the time before a match. Not the opponent, surface, court, not even consistent pain... it's all just the way it is... Focus on, and think about, the things you CAN change, because 'worrying' about things you cannot change is pointless.

Taxvictim
05-15-2007, 02:55 PM
In fact my game is at its best when I stop watching the ball in mid flight- once the opponent makes contact I want to start looking at wherever it is going to land so that I can watch the ball come up off of the ground.

So you first watch the ball to get an idea of where it will land, then you take your eyes off the ball and watch that part of the court where the ball will land? Then you intently watch the ball come up off the court?

tennis_hand
05-15-2007, 07:46 PM
That I'd rather lose playing hard and going for my shots than lowering myself to my opponent's level.

agree.

play aggressive, play your usual game. don't just tap and push. u lose yet you feel bad and u don't improve over those pushing techniques.

10s talk
05-15-2007, 08:02 PM
banish the doubt (about getting my 2nd serve in)

shojun25
05-15-2007, 08:33 PM
like lordmanji said, be agressive. this especially helped me find the right playing style for me.

also, trying to clear my head from the match helped my game considerably. i just get too tense most of the time and this helped me find my peaceful place.

spot
05-16-2007, 05:24 AM
So you first watch the ball to get an idea of where it will land, then you take your eyes off the ball and watch that part of the court where the ball will land? Then you intently watch the ball come up off the court?

Exactly right. Think about facing a big serve. I focus my eyes on where contact will be made so I can pick up the ball as early as possible. Once I see where the ball is struck and you see the initial path of the ball you know where it is going to land. Watching the ball mid flight doesn't give you any additional information- it just makes your eyes be in constant motion. Instead I will focus my attention where the ball is going to land. On a serve the ball loses 50% of its velocity when it hits the ground- focusing on that impact is just as important as focusing on your opponent hitting the ball. When I focus on that spot it keeps my head still and it gets me into position early. It has made an incredible difference in my game.

Taxvictim
05-16-2007, 06:38 AM
When I focus on that spot it keeps my head still and it gets me into position early. It has made an incredible difference in my game.

Thanks, I will try that because my returns of serve need big improvement. Right now I usually just block back any powerful serve because that's all I have time for.

z-money
05-16-2007, 06:42 AM
THINK!
if you realize what a player doesnt like. make sure he sees alot of it. if you keep your head in the game. you can beat a peer who you are close to by 6-0, instead of 7-6. just make sure you can keep it up

Pusher
05-16-2007, 11:33 AM
There's another thread about what one thing really helped your game, but the options are all tangible actions, such as reading books or taking lessons.

Here's a twist: what mental concept dramatically helped your game once you "got it"? For example, my backhand improved tremendously recently when I started to think of "pulling" the racket instead of pushing it.

Can you think of a time you suddenly figured something out? Maybe something you heard a million times, but it never helped you until that day on the court when a light bulb went on inside your head?

Tony Robbins says the way to improve quickly is to copy not only the physiology of a successful person, but also his belief system. So what beliefs, thoughts, or ideas made you a better player?

The person that figures it out will be a millionaire. Many have tried to address the question-few, if any, get it right. A room full of sports psychologists will give you a roomful of different answers. I doubt there is one right answer but there is one right answer for you. Keep playing and it will come to you.

str33t
05-16-2007, 11:45 AM
This one came to me a while ago when I was reading something on TennisOne.

When the ball hits the court and bounces, it is usually spinning with more spin than the player hit it with. You have to counter that intense spin by swinging your racquet fast to counter the ball's spin. This concept has helped me to swing faster so I can counter the topspin that the incoming ball has, and also has added more topspin to my game.

Doc Hollidae
05-16-2007, 12:29 PM
Control, Hurt, Finish

penpal
05-16-2007, 03:53 PM
I really didn't get the "watch the ball" mantra until those still frame shots of Federer started becoming popular. I can't claim I do it as well as Fed, in fact I can't even claim I always do it, but when I find myself in a funk I can now usually correct it much more quickly because I realize I'm tending to look where I want to hit, rather than watching the ball into my racquet.

zzzbrianxxx
05-16-2007, 04:00 PM
One point at a time, one shot at a time. Before, I couldn't help but think "3 more points" if I was up 5-2, 15-0 or something like that. That screwed me up I think. Now, I'm constantly reminding myself to just focus on the task at hand: the next point, the next ball.

Calm but focused, that's my mantra.



All I have to add to this is that if you lose a point, the moment you lose it you have to forget about it and move on to the next point no matter how bad of an error you possibly just made. This helped me a lot. Fixing your strings helps you forget. But don't just fix the strings...concentrate intensely on fixing the strings for 10 seconds. Think about NOTHING else. After that your ready to go and you've forgotten about the previous point.

I think every point, from a mental point of view, has to be played independantly of all the others. This is why the tour tries to remain calm all the time.

smoothtennis
05-16-2007, 04:42 PM
I really didn't get the "watch the ball" mantra until those still frame shots of Federer started becoming popular. I can't claim I do it as well as Fed, in fact I can't even claim I always do it, but when I find myself in a funk I can now usually correct it much more quickly because I realize I'm tending to look where I want to hit, rather than watching the ball into my racquet.

LOL, I can't say it any better than that. I THOUGHT I was watching the ball too, until those youtube super slow mo's came out, and now I realize how badly I have been looking up shot after shot. I am working on this myself, and it is HARD.

andymac1
05-16-2007, 07:26 PM
"Watch the ball" and "Don't Jump You Friking Idiot" invaluable 2 phrases. Honestly.

Taxvictim
05-17-2007, 10:11 AM
"Watch the ball" and "Don't Jump You Friking Idiot" invaluable 2 phrases. Honestly.

Wow. "Watch the ball" is a popular answer.

Don't jump? Do you mean, don't jump off the ground when you hit the ball?

smoothtennis
05-17-2007, 10:19 AM
Wow. "Watch the ball" is a popular answer.

Don't jump? Do you mean, don't jump off the ground when you hit the ball?

For a great majority of 3.0-3.5 players that have this problem that I have seen, tend to jump, or lift up at contact or just prior to contact. The issue there, is that in their case, as was in mine for many years, the hitting *base* is reduced so much that there is no option but to arm the ball becuase you expended your stored energy by coming up with the body prior to contact.

Now that I think back, not jumping for me and my hitting partner, were HUGE breakthroughs in our tennis games, and took a long time to undo. LOL, I used to jump on volleys, all volleys! Excited I guess...

N23
05-17-2007, 11:06 AM
Relax..........

Jay27
05-17-2007, 01:19 PM
flicking my wrist on the forehand and concentrating on making the ball rise over the basline rather than just hitting all out.

???WTF??? Sorry, but you may want to rephrase your statement here. You're forearm will pronate (or should) during the forehand follow though (that might be the "flick" you're talking about) and why would you want to make the ball rise over the baseline. That's considered "out" where I'm from.

Anyway, I think the thing that helped me most, once I realized it, was the fact of staying loose and not tensing up and moving my feet! It's amazing how much more consistent I became when both of these tasks were combined in actual match play.

Taxvictim
05-17-2007, 01:44 PM
For a great majority of 3.0-3.5 players that have this problem that I have seen, tend to jump, or lift up at contact or just prior to contact. .

I'm in that category. Taking lessons as a teenager, I remember the instructor saying to bend my knees before the shot, and to straighten my legs as I make contact. Is that now considered bad form?

smoothtennis
05-17-2007, 04:33 PM
I'm in that category. Taking lessons as a teenager, I remember the instructor saying to bend my knees before the shot, and to straighten my legs as I make contact. Is that now considered bad form?

Staightening your legs and jumping are not the same things. What I am talking about are guys coming up with their body and head before their stroke has happened. This disconnects their arm from their power plant before they stroke, so all that is left is the arm. In other words, they are misfiring the kinetic chain. Ground to feet, to hips to shoulders to arms to racket to ball. One smooth transfer of energy, both linear and angular.

I don't want to mislead you with technical jargon. But the above is what I am talking about when I say jumping is a bad thing. I know the pros tend to jump, but their dynamic balance is very different than a 3.5 weekend player.

DrewRafter8
05-17-2007, 05:24 PM
Move your feet! Watched a great match of a couple good DI college players a few weeks back. ECU vs. UNC Wilmington, there was a lefty who I loved watching play. His feet were constantly moving. I mean really moving. It was a great thing to watch.

MTXR
05-17-2007, 08:54 PM
When i start getting aggressive and serve and volleying i don't double fault and i start winning...

Being aggressive is key for me...

shutupova
08-17-2007, 01:13 PM
Watch The F******* BALL!!

That remains to be the single best advice for me.
I couldn't believe how that helps my shot making almost instantly.

lakis92
08-17-2007, 01:32 PM
You have to pay for every ******** you do.... A coach I know told me that.....

It also helps me when I get mad and angry with my opponent. Like he has done something to me... I hit harder and faster then. If you can be angry and stay calm you gonna kick some butts.

Photoshop
08-17-2007, 01:35 PM
Move yo feet. Run down every ball. Keep the intensity.
and hit every ball on the same horizontal path.

SB
08-17-2007, 02:53 PM
Matches have ups and downs. Don't freak out about them.

If your opponent is playing lights out, hang in there until he or she comes down to earth. Then take advantage. If your opponent starts out poorly, don't assume he'll continue that way. Keep the pressure on.

If you are playing great, it's okay if your level drops for a little bit. It will come back if you just keep going and don't give up.

FatCat
08-17-2007, 04:25 PM
Finding out that an AMAZING way to get over a slump in a match is thinking of something to bring your spirits up, like focusing on someone that makes you happy or something that you're really looking forward to doing.

I need to work on the looking at the ball thing. I always forget to do it, but I tried it with ping pong just yesterday and for the first time since I started playing tennis I was actually able to rely on my forehand again.

Cindysphinx
08-17-2007, 04:34 PM
When serving, hit down on the ball.

Yes, I know this runs counter to what many on this board say. I have heard many here suggest to hit up on the ball.

For me, thinking of hitting down on the ball made everything fall into place. I get better extension and more weight into the shot. The serve has more pace. I am more likely to fall into the court than off to the side. And, of course, the serve goes in more. If they are flying long, I bring my toss forward a bit. If they are going into the net, I bring the toss back a bit.

So I start every match thinking of hitting down on the ball for serves, and then if this is clicking I take it up a notch by thinking more about placement and spin.

Cindysphinx
08-17-2007, 04:42 PM
Oh, and one more.

I never understood footwork. I mean, I have good footspeed, so how can my footwork be a problem?

The thing that has helped the footwork is thinking, "Get There!!!!"

As in Get There early. Don't wait for the ball to come to you, hoping you'll time it just right and spin or wind won't affect you. Get there, and don't try to come up a step or two short out of laziness. Get there, and then keep moving lightly once you get there. When finished hitting, get in position to Get There for the next shot.

During a lesson, my pro observed that although I am in good shape, I seem to tire quickly. Sweating and panting like crazy. He said the problem was my footwork. Instead of hitting a shot and then calmly recovering, I was being lazy after hitting, so every shot was a Hell On Wheels Emergency requiring me to run full out in panic mode. As a result, I think about where I want to go after each shot so I can Get There. It seems to be helping.

When I'm making errors in a match, I try to forget everything else and just Get There. This does seem to help.

Mastermind
08-17-2007, 07:18 PM
"Perfection is impossible, excellence is attainable."

Steady Eddy
08-17-2007, 08:45 PM
One coach tells people, "Remember, it's all practice" Even if you're in a tournament, it's still practice, you're really there to learn anyhow. Thinking about it this way helps keep me loose.

Zets147
08-17-2007, 08:46 PM
"let it go"

Thanks Inner Game of Tennis!

aznspongehead
08-17-2007, 09:35 PM
You have to be "on top of things" mentally. Tell yourself you are dominating play. The ball goes where you want it to and goes as fast as you want it to. You don't have to get tense as if you need to struggle to beat this guy in front of you, because you are in control of the match.

When you do that, you naturally become relaxed. You would hit very few errors because you are confident, and your results would just give you more confidence.

Povl Carstensen
08-18-2007, 06:22 AM
During last winter I started to eksperiment with exhaling as I hit the ball. I think this is main reason many players are moaning as they hit. So now I actually moan a bit, not loud, actually difficult for my opponent to hear. So I inhale as the ball approaches, stop inhaling as it hits the ground, and let out a "sound" as I hit it. I think it helps with timing, and keeps your mind of unnessecary stuff. My "moan" is sort of extended in line with the feel of hitting through the ball, extending the stroke.
I think it helped my hitting. Right now the honeymoon is sort of over, and I have to struggle to stick with it, but I still believe in it. Offcourse I tend to forget it on difficult/important shots...

Messarger
08-18-2007, 02:47 PM
For a great majority of 3.0-3.5 players that have this problem that I have seen, tend to jump, or lift up at contact or just prior to contact. The issue there, is that in their case, as was in mine for many years, the hitting *base* is reduced so much that there is no option but to arm the ball becuase you expended your stored energy by coming up with the body prior to contact.

Now that I think back, not jumping for me and my hitting partner, were HUGE breakthroughs in our tennis games, and took a long time to undo. LOL, I used to jump on volleys, all volleys! Excited I guess...

What about airborne shots?

Messarger
08-18-2007, 02:50 PM
Oh yeah, predict, set and explode.

soggyramen
08-18-2007, 02:59 PM
"Play Yourself Not Your Opponent"

what my grandfather would say to me when he tried many years ago to coax me into tennis he pased away 2 years ago which is what got me into tennis now i play at my pace and make my opponent force errors instead of hitting winners

Pete Semper
08-18-2007, 03:47 PM
"Be more aggresive and Have fun" it helps me a lot when Im losing my match. But I noticed that I coudnt stay in that "state of mind" as soon as I take advantage on my adversarie... I hate winning and I dont know why.

Gantz
08-18-2007, 09:08 PM
"Pretend you're playing a really hot chick...."

cj011
08-23-2007, 01:06 PM
This is the best thing that helped me. Don't give a crap. I was a complete nut case in juniors and in college. I had way too much talent and was very mentally unstable. I could go from playing amazing tennis to what in the hell is that guy thinkin in a matter of seconds. Once I stopped caring what happened, then there wasn't all the pressure. Now it just happens and I don't worry about it.

rasajadad
08-23-2007, 01:42 PM
"Above all else, be of good cheer." (Inner Tennis)

Oxford
08-24-2007, 01:37 AM
Learn how to learn.

Sounds simple but few really understand it. It is different for everyone but you need to know the most efficient way YOU learn something.

For me, I break down elements of a shot or serve and the drill it into my head and body with my ball machine ALONE on the court. No score. No opponent. I say out-loud two things to remember IE- watch ball, racquet all the way back, bend knees...

Groove it in.

Then I will sit down afterwards in a quiet place, shut my eyes and visualize the feeling of doing it perfectly.

Let it soak in mentally and visually.

The next time you try it you will be amazed how much better you will do it.

Sure, you can gain skills playing games and hitting with buds but unless you groove the proper form in a controlled environment you will most likely camp out at that 3.5 blockade the rest of your life.

Groove it and THEN take it to prime time matchs to harden it.

ox

Tennismastery
08-24-2007, 11:29 AM
From a teaching standpoint, one of the best mental practices that players of all levels benefit from and, when employed allows for many positive factors is: "Hit and Hold".

This concept, as discussed in my book, does several things:

1. It creates balance when a player plans to hold their finish after the follow-through.
2. It helps prevent players from over-hitting the ball. (Since most overhitting creates problems in balance.)
3. It helps keep the player of thinking of past events or future events while hitting the ball.
4. It really helps in improved aiming because this concept helps create a more reliable and repeatable swing path which allows a player to improve their aim. (People who have a different swing or swing elements on each hit will make aiming very difficult since the racquet is connecting with the ball from different swing paths.)

Watch Fed play specifically and what how long he holds his finish, especially his backhand. Even while he is recovering, he is usually still holding his finish.

Everyone try it and see if in your next match you don't play with more control, balance, better aim and confidence.

Loco4Tennis
08-25-2007, 07:14 AM
That I'd rather lose playing hard and going for my shots than lowering myself to my opponent's level.

i read about this frame of mind theary the other day, which emphasises the posters comment very well,
i'm going to put it to the test now (win or lose), i hate playing like a DINK, bumping safe shoots, afraid to take normal full swings,
but while at practice i am having to yank balls off the fence that i put there with my monster shoots,
am i going to be ******** and just hit like a basher,, no, but i am going to play like i practice,,, all i can say is,, "i pitty the fool" :mad: , a little Mr. T quote for you all :) :D :mad:

Fedace
08-25-2007, 07:18 AM
Expect every ball to come back, no matter how good of a shot you think you hit and get ready for a battle, and never underestimate your opponent, no matter how bad they look in warm up.
and stop staring at the hot girl walking by in middle of the point....

Fedace
08-25-2007, 07:19 AM
"Pretend you're playing a really hot chick...."

If i did that, i would get bageled.;)

Loco4Tennis
08-25-2007, 07:21 AM
oh, i remembered the frame of mind theary,
"tennis is not about strokes, it's about a frame of mind"
meaning, play like you do at practice and you will be amazed at the results

Loco4Tennis
08-25-2007, 07:25 AM
If i did that, i would get bageled.;)

i second your responce, i purposely switched court sides so i would not stare at this hot chick playing in the courts infront of me, everytime she would do stuff (you know ;) ) play with her hair and stuff, my friend would yell back "where were you on that last ace i sent your way" :mad: , once we switched, i started playing better, cause i kept acing the guy :-D

Mick
08-25-2007, 08:09 AM
I improved after I started playing "first strike" tennis :)