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order
08-21-2007, 04:23 PM
Alright, the other day I entered an L5 tournament and my old problem came back to haunt me. I choked. I started thinking (alot) and I wasn't even reacting to the ball alot of times. Seriously. Admittedly, the other guy was better than me but definitely not by that much. Sometimes I would be thinking and I would see a really short ball, as in a drop shot that bounced above net height, and I just stood there. Other times I would get a body serve and go to a forehand grip but then switch to a back hand grip. I stopped hitting top spin and AAaAAAHHH! It got so bad that I actually started returning balls straight to his forehand and charged the net so that I wouldn't have time to think. I succeeded 3 times doing that till he realized what I was doing and just started giving me lobs and other shots that gave me time to think. The score was 2-6, 1-6. Admittedly, he was better than me but I should have atleast put up a fight.

So yeah, my question is how can I stop my self from thinking in a match and just freaking play?

lkdog
08-21-2007, 04:37 PM
Will give it a shot FWIW.....

1) Get lessons to address your technically weakest shots. These are the ones that break down in match play.
2) Get rituals before each point and stick to them (see the Loehr stuff). This gives you a sense of control and you can let go of last point and prepare for next one.
3) Get a simple gameplan and stick to it (return serves over the middle of net and deep, rally deep balls crosscourt to you back deep crosscourt, hit over the middle and deep in general, approach on every short ball down the line and follow it in and cover the line, hit your passing shots over the net, get first serve in to BH). This will reduce your options and thinking and it is solid tennis.
4) If you do the above-you are succeeding. Don't worry about score as you are executing your gameplan.

Good luck.

LuckyR
08-21-2007, 04:43 PM
Aahhh. The Everlasting Tennis question. You are beginning to figure out that tennis is not about strokes. You mention: "the other guy was better than me but definitely not by that much". The reality is that the other guy's strokes were not that much better than yours, but in matchplay, he was much, much better than you were. How much better? 2-6, 1-6 better.

Matchplay ain't about strokes, it is about having the type of Mental Game where you can bring your strokes to bear. There are a number of books on this. Some like Winning Ugly, others like The Inner Game of Tennis. I like The Lure of the Big Game. It doesn't matter as long as you get it together.

Good luck.

smoothtennis
08-21-2007, 04:46 PM
Hey, this is not easy, so give yourself a break. I don't even call what you described as 'choking'. I call it lack of match toughness. Every body goes through this. I am playing tournaments for the first time again this year after an 8 yr. tournament layoff. I can honestly say, every tournament I get better at focusing on the BALL, and not other guy on the other side of the net.

It's hard. It sounds like most of your attention was on the opponent, this and that, and not as much on just the ball. I take an Eastern grip on service returns to I can block a hard foreand, or slice a hard backhand on body serves without grip changes. Knowing even that, allows me to relax and just watch the serve coming in at any pace.

Lower your expectations on winning, and focus on playing good points. Everybody except the guy that wins the final loses in every tournament. Remember that. Understand that focusing on winning so hard will cause you to lose, so just quit it, LOL.

Sounds like you were tight as a drum too. Totally natural. Keep going to tournaments, and you will start naturally getting more relaxed. After you lose a few times, it really does take the 'stress' out of losing, and you can just start playing to play.

I am not saying to make excuses early. I am saying do whatever you need to do, to get your focus where it needs to be, where it must be. On the BALL.

You know what Yoda would say? "The fear of losing is a path to the dark side."

smoothtennis
08-21-2007, 04:50 PM
LuckyR said:

Matchplay ain't about strokes, it is about having the type of Mental Game where you can bring your strokes to bear.


That is spot on.

I have so gotten over the fact that my strokes look better than some guys who play better tennis than me. Strokes do not = tennis.

Steady Eddy
08-21-2007, 04:51 PM
When Arthur Ashe lost in a final, he admitted that he lost because he wanted it too much. Some people think that wanting badly to win helps. Not in tennis, maybe that works in football.

The trick is to stay loose. So how do you do that? Watch how you talk to yourself. Don't be "This is it, it's do or die!". That doesn't help. Remind yourself that if you lose, that will be disappointing but that you can deal with it. Take the view that it's all practice. I mean you don't have your house bet on the outcome, do you? So relax, it's a game. Have fun out there, then the points will take care of themselves.

jmverdugo
08-22-2007, 09:24 AM
I have the same problem, my mind play tricks on me and start to get nervous and from there is all down. Ill follow some of the tips i have read here. Also is important what has been written here about strokes arent really all in a match, in fact they are just the last part, it is important of course, this is why i do not agree when people post videos of their strokes while they are practicing and request to others to "rate" them, because hitting nice an clean strokes on practice it is never equal to winning a real match, which is where your actual rate appears.

burosky
08-22-2007, 09:27 AM
There could be a myriad of reasons why someone chokes. All the other posts in this thread could be a valid reason. I just want to add that sometimes a loss of confidence is attributable to a loss in trust in one's strokes. This usually happens when you try to hit a stroke you don't fully "own". A shot you own is one that you will typically go to when given a certain situation. For example, if you prefer an inside out forehand to an inside in forehand, this is probably because you "own" the inside out. In a match situation, if your opponent senses this, the smart ones will take this away from you and force you to hit shots you are not comfortable with. This will eventually take its toll until your confidence is gone.

The point I'm trying to make is you want to "own" as many shots as possible and use as much of those shots as you can in a match to counter choking.

whatsgood4u
08-22-2007, 09:51 AM
heimlich maneuver usually works to stop choking.

whatsgood4u
08-22-2007, 09:52 AM
accidental post

Mountain Ghost
08-22-2007, 10:38 AM
No pun intended, but the best way to stop choking is to . . . FOCUS ON YOUR BREATHE !!!

If you find yourself getting tight or nervous and losing your technique, you need to learn how to put your runaway brain in “neutral” ON COMMAND. If, between points, you just WATCH yourself breathe (“I am breathing in” - “I am breathing out” - etc.), you can bring your mind back into the moment and away from the past and the future, where thinking of how you’ve done so far, and of how (or what) you WILL do, can so easily distract you from being able to JUST PLAY.

Also, unlike while hitting the ball (or lifting weights), where the emphasis may be placed on the exhale, during these “still” moments between points, put your energy on each INHALE and then let the air just FALL out of your lungs.

MG

VaBeachTennis
08-22-2007, 01:42 PM
Hey, this is not easy, so give yourself a break. I don't even call what you described as 'choking'. I call it lack of match toughness. Every body goes through this. I am playing tournaments for the first time again this year after an 8 yr. tournament layoff. I can honestly say, every tournament I get better at focusing on the BALL, and not other guy on the other side of the net.

It's hard. It sounds like most of your attention was on the opponent, this and that, and not as much on just the ball. I take an Eastern grip on service returns to I can block a hard foreand, or slice a hard backhand on body serves without grip changes. Knowing even that, allows me to relax and just watch the serve coming in at any pace.

Lower your expectations on winning, and focus on playing good points. Everybody except the guy that wins the final loses in every tournament. Remember that. Understand that focusing on winning so hard will cause you to lose, so just quit it, LOL.

Sounds like you were tight as a drum too. Totally natural. Keep going to tournaments, and you will start naturally getting more relaxed. After you lose a few times, it really does take the 'stress' out of losing, and you can just start playing to play.

I am not saying to make excuses early. I am saying do whatever you need to do, to get your focus where it needs to be, where it must be. On the BALL.

You know what Yoda would say? "The fear of losing is a path to the dark side."

That is great advice and It really works! This is what I need more of as well, the more you concentrate on the ball and hitting where you want it to go, the less you'll care about your opponent and thus probably be more effective. Once you get into a groove or comfortable then you can concentrate on your opponent a little more e.g his backhand is not good....exploit it , the guy's a rabbit...adjust accordingly etc. Most of all is to have fun and though you want to win and kick butt , don't take it so seriously and get down on yourself because then you add another opponent to content with and your toughest opponent.... yourself .

VaBeachTennis
08-22-2007, 01:44 PM
When Arthur Ashe lost in a final, he admitted that he lost because he wanted it too much. Some people think that wanting badly to win helps. Not in tennis, maybe that works in football.

The trick is to stay loose. So how do you do that? Watch how you talk to yourself. Don't be "This is it, it's do or die!". That doesn't help. Remind yourself that if you lose, that will be disappointing but that you can deal with it. Take the view that it's all practice. I mean you don't have your house bet on the outcome, do you? So relax, it's a game. Have fun out there, then the points will take care of themselves.

LOL! So true.

order
08-22-2007, 04:47 PM
Tanks for all the adivce guys; I will try to put it to use more often like I did today. I was playing a match and started out the same way as I was during that tournament game. I was so depressed. Surprisingly, even though I was playing like absolute crap, I won the first set (though the fact that I was playing like crap made it so that I wasn't very happy about it).
In the second set I remembered what you all said about relaxing and focusing on the ball and my game got a lot better. I returned okaishly (for me) and recovered okaishly too. The only thing that was off the entire way was my serve. It went in, but it was nowhere near as strong as it is when I was practicing. I was pulling back and I tried not to but it just didn't seem to work. I won the match but the fact that I still did stupid things during the match (that I wouldn't do in practice) sort of messed me up.

How do you guys make sure you go for it on all of your serves, despite the fact that you just double faulted?
Also, how can you keep your self from getting too excited during a rally?
Finally, how long do you all think it will take for me to get the mental toughness/match smarts down enough to not self destruct?

Thanks.

soggyramen
08-22-2007, 05:38 PM
experience

jmverdugo
08-22-2007, 06:54 PM
Also, one form for me to gain confidence and not to choke is to take the warm up very seriusly and do some go for all shots just to loose a little bit your arms. And when you loose focus remind your self of focus on the ball. I know it is easier to say it that to do it, im a specialist at choking, it is actually ridiculous how much my level decrease on an important match

Plisken
08-22-2007, 07:05 PM
Think of something funny =3 idk iv never really gotten into a position where i choke (dont really play to many sets)

smoothtennis
08-22-2007, 08:51 PM
How do you guys make sure you go for it on all of your serves, despite the fact that you just double faulted?

Also, how can you keep your self from getting too excited during a rally?
Finally, how long do you all think it will take for me to get the mental toughness/match smarts down enough to not self destruct?

Thanks.

Don't just 'go for it' on your serves. Go for good aggressive serves with energy and spin, but not stupid 'hit it as hard as you can' serves. With experience you come to realize, serving tentatively will put no spin, no power on the ball, and it will likely fly out on you anyways.

Getting too excited in a rally? Quit thinking winners - quit getting eyes the size of saucers when you see an open court, or stumbling opponent. After you overhit about 1000 times getting excited, you get enough experiece where you KNOW what will happen when you get that feeling. Conversely, you will develop a specific calm feeling when you learn to 'dictate' points, and you can feel the advantage on your side as you dictate. The winner will come naturally, or the opponenet error will come as you dictate play. You will learn to be content with that type of play over time, and quit getting too excited. It is like taking more pieces from your opponent in chess...you just keep taking picces, and you probably know the final outcome...you just have ot hang in there, and keep doing what you are doing...checkmate comes after you do the setup work. Now I am going to go learn to spell...LOL!