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View Full Version : Help Me Break This Hideous Losing Streak


Cindysphinx
10-15-2007, 04:47 AM
June 6, 2007.

That was the last time I won a league match of any sort.

Since then, it has been a Parade of Horrible Losses. Eight losses, if you must know. Two in singles and the rest in doubles. Some at 3.0, some at 3.5, some at combo 6.5, some at mixed 7.0. This despite the fact that I am hitting the ball better, am in better shape, and am serving better than I ever have.

Tonight, I try again. I have a good partner this time; we are 3-0 from earlier this year. We are playing a team that is loaded with former teammates. I simply cannot lose this match. It would be humiliating. There is no combination of players on that team that should be able to beat us tonight.

I need one mental thing to focus on for this match so I will play the way I am capable of playing. Lately, I have been focusing on footwork, as I have been told that when I err it is because of poor footwork. This didn't work in my last match; I was a total mess for 1.5 sets and then came to life at the end when it was too late.

My problems are legion. I need to watch the ball better. And angle those volleys so they don't come back. And swing away on my second serves. And use better judgment about when to come to net. And get every service return into play. And hit high-quality groundstrokes. And so on and so on.

Any ideas for *one* thing I can focus on to play well tonight?

Cindy -- who would feel better about the losses if she had played well

Topaz
10-15-2007, 05:38 AM
June 6, 2007.

That was the last time I won a league match of any sort.

Since then, it has been a Parade of Horrible Losses. Eight losses, if you must know. Two in singles and the rest in doubles. Some at 3.0, some at 3.5, some at combo 6.5, some at mixed 7.0. This despite the fact that I am hitting the ball better, am in better shape, and am serving better than I ever have.

Tonight, I try again. I have a good partner this time; we are 3-0 from earlier this year. We are playing a team that is loaded with former teammates. I simply cannot lose this match. It would be humiliating. There is no combination of players on that team that should be able to beat us tonight.

I need one mental thing to focus on for this match so I will play the way I am capable of playing. Lately, I have been focusing on footwork, as I have been told that when I err it is because of poor footwork. This didn't work in my last match; I was a total mess for 1.5 sets and then came to life at the end when it was too late.

My problems are legion. I need to watch the ball better. And angle those volleys so they don't come back. And swing away on my second serves. And use better judgment about when to come to net. And get every service return into play. And hit high-quality groundstrokes. And so on and so on.

Any ideas for *one* thing I can focus on to play well tonight?

Cindy -- who would feel better about the losses if she had played well

Watch the ball so closely that you can read the label ('Penn' or 'Wilson')...bonus points if you can read the number as well.

tennis-n-sc
10-15-2007, 06:40 AM
Sometimes I get so hung up on the technical aspects of the game I forget that 90% of the game is 100% mental ( or something like that). Meaning I simply put too much pressure on myself to win. I forget to stay loose, play smart and have fun. I forget that I have a day job and my income from tennis is zilch. I find that I have a tightness in my throat and I have the racquet in a death grip. I forget that I have prepared the best I can and sometimes the other player/s are simply better. But if I can stay loose, play smart and have fun with my partner, my game just gets a little better and sometimes I win and sometimes I lose, but I know I did my best. I can be satisfied with that and look forward to the next match.

wihamilton
10-15-2007, 07:51 AM
Sounds like you are thinking too much. I would recommend not thinking about your technique -- that's something you should focus on when you are practicing. I like Topaz's suggestion, "watch the ball so closely that you can read the label," because that keeps things simple.

Messarger
10-15-2007, 08:14 AM
Sometimes I get so hung up on the technical aspects of the game I forget that 90% of the game is 100% mental ( or something like that). Meaning I simply put too much pressure on myself to win. I forget to stay loose, play smart and have fun. I forget that I have a day job and my income from tennis is zilch. I find that I have a tightness in my throat and I have the racquet in a death grip. I forget that I have prepared the best I can and sometimes the other player/s are simply better. But if I can stay loose, play smart and have fun with my partner, my game just gets a little better and sometimes I win and sometimes I lose, but I know I did my best. I can be satisfied with that and look forward to the next match.

That's my problem, too. I'm afraid that if i stay loose, i'll lose my competitive edge.

Not trying to hi jack your topic btw.

smoothtennis
10-15-2007, 08:21 AM
You have to forget about your opponents being former team mates, you really do. It is NOT humliating to lose to them, somebody always loses in tennis. Don't make eye contact, just play your game and focus on that ball like others have said. Worrying about winning so badly, or fear of losing, will make you so tight, you will be paralyzed.

I agree, you can't think about technique during your match. When you boil it all down, there is really only one thing you can do in that match. And that is just make clean contact with the ball, and get it in. Then let the other team worry about doing the same thing.

If your volley's are sitting ducks for your opponents, and you can't seem to put them away, then try to aim right at their feet, and make them get out of the way or misshit. Soft volleys right at the feet are not easy to deal with for anybody I have met.

spot
10-15-2007, 08:26 AM
You don't want to think about anything during the point- you are already thinking about too much. You want something to focus on before the point starts. Here you go- SERVE TO THE BACKHAND. If both you and your partner send over 80% of serves to people's backhand at that level then you should just get a ton of free points.

Bagumbawalla
10-15-2007, 09:15 AM
I am going to suggest warming up really well before the match. Get with a partner or find a wall and practice/drill the basics- serve, return, volleys and touch volleys, overheads, topspin drives and slice... This is also the time to work on leg/footwork- get the weight moving forward.

When I am confident in those basics I have the feeling that I can't be beaten and then I don't think too much during the match.

Watch the ball, hit it to the place you want, get ready for the return (if any)-- simple as that.

TheFonz
10-15-2007, 09:37 AM
at this level, just keep the ball in the court and give yourself an extra margin for error.

tennis-n-sc
10-15-2007, 10:26 AM
That's my problem, too. I'm afraid that if i stay loose, i'll lose my competitive edge.

Not trying to hi jack your topic btw.

True. But each person has a happy medium they can learn to identfy and try to reach. Nothing is more miserable than going into a match afraid of losing. This thought pattern almost assures me losing even to lesser opponents. I can be excited about the match, still be loose, have an edge, have fun and play at or above my ability level. Hey, what more can we ask for in anything. At my age, I live to compete and play. I'll probably never have a higher rating but I can be the best I can be without adding a lot self-imposed pressure to win or being afraid to lose. I just wish I could do this all the time.;)

Oleg
10-15-2007, 11:27 AM
Any ideas for *one* thing I can focus on to play well tonight?


Playing matches requires having a basic game plan that you use to play points. You may adjust this game plan during the course of the match if it is not working. The game plan can be very basic, for example hit the ball deep cross court until you get a short ball to attack or opponent makes an error.

I can also suggest what not to do:

1. Do not address yourself in a third person after making a mistake or a questionable play. If you feel that you could have done something better in a previous point say to yourself "I need to ....." instead of "you need to ..." or "come on Cindy, move your feet". Keep comments like this to yourself not outloud. When your opponent sees and hears you berate yourself in a third person it gives them more confidence and relaxes them. You want to turn this trend around.

2. Do not think that it is OK to make unforced errors when trying to be more aggressive. It is not OK, it takes pressure off your opponent. You must strive to have a positive differential (winners - errors) at the and of each set in order to have a chance to win.

Mountain Ghost
10-15-2007, 11:39 AM
- Shoulders Up
- Balance
- and DONíT CROWD THE BALL !!!

MG

Taimur
10-15-2007, 11:54 AM
I have always found footwork to be a key area that decides whether i play well or not on a given day. When i move lazily, i rarely get in position and end up mishitting, alongwith a poor recovery that makes the next shot even more difficult to execute.
And good footwork requires both physical fitness and something that i have yet to fully appreciate: presence of mind. Daydreaming about everything but the point in play will always destroy my movement on the court. As my coach taught me, think about what is going on! Not the previos point and not the next game!
He also mentioned how a particular dimension of Federer's game is usually overlooked by the average spectator: the manner in which he builds up a point,stroke by stroke, till the final putaway is nothing but a formality for him.
Being a rookie, i definitely need to work on all these things myself too; i hope they can help you too.:D

Cindysphinx
10-15-2007, 02:04 PM
Thanks everyone!

I will take your suggestions on board tonight. I probably will not need them, however. I found a New And Exciting Way to get pumped up for this match.

I got a ticket today. That's right. Me. My first moving violation since *1979.*

What heinous crime did I commit? In what way am I A Hideous Threat to public safety?

Why, I turned right onto a street that had a "No right turn from 4-6 p.m." sign posted. Right into the arms of a police sting. I hardly ever go that way in rush hour because I hardly ever drive in rush hour, see. So the sign, which I knew was there, didn't register with me because it didn't occur to me that it wasn't 11 in the morning or some such time when I can usually be found driving.

So now I'm Seriously, Seriously Cheesed Off, and I plan to take it out on a fuzzy yellow ball starting at about 9 p.m. tonight.

My opponents had better get the heck away from the net. 'Cause I won't be held responsible for what happens if they get anywhere near it.

Cindy -- who is about to mail in the stoopid fine, which amounts to 1.5 tennis lessons, and who cannot believe she actually located her vehicle registration under all that debris in the glove box

Topaz
10-15-2007, 02:09 PM
Thanks everyone!

I will take your suggestions on board tonight. I probably will not need them, however. I found a New And Exciting Way to get pumped up for this match.

I got a ticket today. That's right. Me. My first moving violation since *1979.*

What heinous crime did I commit? In what way am I A Hideous Threat to public safety?

Why, I turned right onto a street that had a "No right turn from 4-6 p.m." sign posted. Right into the arms of a police sting. I hardly ever go that way in rush hour because I hardly ever drive in rush hour, see. So the sign, which I knew was there, didn't register with me because it didn't occur to me that it wasn't 11 in the morning or some such time when I can usually be found driving.

So now I'm Seriously, Seriously Cheesed Off, and I plan to take it out on a fuzzy yellow ball starting at about 9 p.m. tonight.

My opponents had better get the heck away from the net. 'Cause I won't be held responsible for what happens if they get anywhere near it.

Cindy -- who is about to mail in the stoopid fine, which amounts to 1.5 tennis lessons, and who cannot believe she actually located her vehicle registration under all that debris in the glove box

So we're not the only district that has 9pm matches?

Good luck! We expect a full report! Don't thwack your butt too much!

skiracer55
10-15-2007, 03:07 PM
...but my hitting partner sometimes gets into these horrible slumps for which there seems to be no answer. So our coach told him to have a drink or two before a match...which actually worked, in his case. Okay, so if you don't like the idea of Better Living Through Chemicals, try music. A lot of ski racers, and an increasing number of tennis players, do the IPod thing before a match. You don't believe me? Here, go take a look at one of my books, page 3, "The Starting Gate Blues."

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles/RMalm-2001-10-DayJob.pdf

wihamilton
10-15-2007, 08:02 PM
how'd it go?

JavierLW
10-15-2007, 08:46 PM
June 6, 2007.

That was the last time I won a league match of any sort.

Since then, it has been a Parade of Horrible Losses. Eight losses, if you must know. Two in singles and the rest in doubles. Some at 3.0, some at 3.5, some at combo 6.5, some at mixed 7.0. This despite the fact that I am hitting the ball better, am in better shape, and am serving better than I ever have.

Tonight, I try again. I have a good partner this time; we are 3-0 from earlier this year. We are playing a team that is loaded with former teammates. I simply cannot lose this match. It would be humiliating. There is no combination of players on that team that should be able to beat us tonight.

I need one mental thing to focus on for this match so I will play the way I am capable of playing. Lately, I have been focusing on footwork, as I have been told that when I err it is because of poor footwork. This didn't work in my last match; I was a total mess for 1.5 sets and then came to life at the end when it was too late.

My problems are legion. I need to watch the ball better. And angle those volleys so they don't come back. And swing away on my second serves. And use better judgment about when to come to net. And get every service return into play. And hit high-quality groundstrokes. And so on and so on.

Any ideas for *one* thing I can focus on to play well tonight?

Cindy -- who would feel better about the losses if she had played well

If you arent watching the ball, then you might as well forget about all the other things, you probally know how to do them anyway or you'll learn. (you usually learn more from losing than you do from winning)

Matches many times come down to a few key points here and there. If someone is just worrying about whether they are going to win or not, or the million other things that come with it, they may lose a lot of matches.

I am a fan of "The Inner Game of Tennis". The part of your brain that is thinking about all the things that you may be doing wrong unfortuanlly isnt the part of your brain that is playing tennis out there (or at least should be playing).

It's important to just clear your mind and focus on the task at hand for the current point (whether that be serving, receiving, whatever). And if you lose it or do something wrong, dont get negative about it, just objectively make a note of it, and prepare for the next point.

Sounds silly, but it works. The part of us that plays good tennis usually can adjust, especially if we've been partaking in numerous lessons, drills, ball machine, etc....

(a good example would be when people are "IN THE ZONE" or "JUST ON THAT DAY", usually when that happens they arent thinking about their strokes at all out there, they are just hitting them easily)

Cindysphinx
10-16-2007, 07:37 AM
So we're not the only district that has 9pm matches?

Good luck! We expect a full report! Don't thwack your butt too much!

OK, I won.

So what. We were two 3.0s playing two 2.5s (although one of the 2.5s is really a 3.0 because she just won a 3.0 tournament). We gave up three games when we should have double-bageled them. It's hard to think of it as a good win, really.

I played OK, not great. Way more winners than errors, lots of service winners. Behaved like a hood ornament at the net though, failing to help my partner hold when I should have. A true 6.5 pair would have eaten us for breakfast.

I guess I'll pay the stoopid ticket rather than contest it. Doh!!

Cindy -- who had a few spectacular butt thwacks

tennis-n-sc
10-16-2007, 02:11 PM
After all the advice you received, you did the best thing and found a team you could beat. ;) And so the streak ends. Now you are on a winning streak. That's how these things go.

kevhen
10-16-2007, 02:20 PM
Cindy, in doubles you should say, we won. Good job. It was a good win since you had a big losing streak and needed some confidence even if it was against weaker players. Improvements in tennis do take time. They don't often happen over night so keep working at it and don't put so much pressure on yourself. Relax a little bit if you can and never let yourself feel humiliated by a loss (we all have some bad losses if you play lots of matches) but always try to learn from each one.

spinny
10-16-2007, 05:49 PM
I have found that watching matches on the neighboring courts, for some reason, calms me down, (I, too get nuts during USTA play) This may help or not, but give it a try.
Perhaps, you may greatly benefit from radical surgury of your doubles game. My flame suit is now on, but I reccomend that you try playing two back when returning strong serves or serving weakly. Why not move up when you or your parner hit a good one, and back when doing the opposite. Playing the net requires REFLEXES. Some people just dont have them. Tennis is all about timing. Your timing/ court position and stroke production will soar when you have maximized the amount of time you have to prepare. The only way to miximize your reponse time is to increase the distance between yourself and your opponent. Most people at the club level have stronger ground stroke than vollies.Dont get suckered in by: one or two good vollies, followed by a dozen poor ones. Or by people who tell you that you MUST play the net. Massu and Gonzo won Olympic gold by playing two back. They used their big weapons, (forehands) and killed the German team. Im willing to bet your forehand is your most dangerous shot. Give it a chance to work on all points, and you may be pleasantly suprised.
Flame away, ya'll

Cindysphinx
10-17-2007, 04:12 PM
My volleys are much better than my groundstrokes. I belong at the net, for sure.