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View Full Version : Its official, I suck at tennis. Anyone use a sports psychologist?


laff66
10-23-2007, 07:20 PM
Anyone ever use a sports psychologist? I feel like this is a ridiculous thing to post here, but I've been pleasantly surprised many times before on this forum with some REALLY helpful suggestions, so here goes:

I am about to quit tennis over the difference between my skills at warmup and during competitive play. I am not one to give myself much credit, but seriously I can hit like a 4.5-5.0 player during practice or warmups, but during actual play I am absolutely terrible! (That might be a little harsh). I am currently playing Team Tennis doubles at 4.0 and losing like crazy. I am wondering if anyone has had any luck with a sports psychologist, or do I just need to give up play for a while and strictly work on drills?
If someone suggests going the psych route, can anyone recommend one in the Dallas area?

Mister G
10-23-2007, 07:24 PM
Sounds like you are just inexperienced. Have you been competing for long? It is usually the case that people can play a lot better in practice/fun knock abouts, but when it comes to matches, they just crumble down. It's all about practice, the more you play/compete the better you'll get at it. Good luck!

Rickson
10-23-2007, 07:24 PM
Anyone ever use a sports psychologist?
I wouldn't see a shrink of any kind if I were you. They charge way too much and they're just a bunch of trained monkeys anyway. I have a few scientologist friends and they might have affected the way I view them, but from what I've heard, shrinks are bad news. Just look at what those whacko Menendez brothers' shrink did to them. That piece of feces ratted them out.

drakulie
10-23-2007, 07:26 PM
Perhaps you need to do drills that are match-type drills? For example, play tie breaks instead of drills one day.

When you do baseline drills, include points.

etc.

A lot of people who are good at drills, find out that the are unable to apply those drills in match play, because the shots coming at them are not the same as when practicing.

What you are going thru happens to everyone. Hopefully, you will get a lot more tips than the ones I provided.

Good luck, and don't quit.

Legend of Borg
10-23-2007, 07:27 PM
Just keep practicing.You'll get better. Don't give up though. That's the easiest thing in the world.

Trinity TC
10-23-2007, 07:57 PM
Hey, at least you admit you're choking...that's progress. Part of being a good coach is to be part sports psychologist. Many of these guys have gone what you have gone through and can teach you what you want to be thinking about in a warmup, between points, etc.

Here's one for you...if you think you've won the warmup...you will lose the match 6-0, 6-0. Why? You've gotten overpsyched in the warmup and when the match starts and the adrenalin kicks in...BOOM...you can can't find the court with a seeing eye dog because of the 25% increase in power and a corresponding loss of feel for the ball. Been there, done that...who hasn't been there?

Warmup at 40% max practice effort which will give you plenty of headroom for nerves and adrenalin rush. 40% in the warmup also keeps your brain from racing at the start of the match. Remember, your brain will think this is war about .0002 seconds before you strike the first ball in the match...so your involuntary nervous system will kick the fight or flight response into warp drive.

Matches are generally played at 70% physical max practice effort (if you get up to 80%...you're in the zone and dishing out the whupass) because you have to factor in you know what and you know what. As NFL Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick says, there is no such thing as giving 110% but it's reasonable to sustain somewhere in the neighborhood of 75% physical effort for a whole game while achieving a 95-8% mental level...or as Yogi Berra says, "90% of the game is half mental.":p

Chauvalito
10-23-2007, 08:03 PM
I wouldn't see a shrink of any kind if I were you. They charge way too much and they're just a bunch of trained monkeys anyway. I have a few scientologist friends and they might have affected the way I view them, but from what I've heard, shrinks are bad news. Just look at what those whacko Menendez brothers' shrink did to them. That piece of feces ratted them out.

Sigh...why dont you ask your scientology friends to defend the history of gynacologists?

Their history includes un-anesthisized experimentation on African Americans...which lead to the basic advances in the field.

Define trained monkeys please...

or would you rather listen to your friends, whose religion was created by a science fiction writer who is quoted as saying

and this is not exact: "If you want to make a lot of money, start a religion"...

Rickson
10-23-2007, 08:28 PM
Sigh...why dont you ask your scientology friends to defend the history of gynacologists?

Their history includes un-anesthisized experimentation on African Americans...which lead to the basic advances in the field.

Define trained monkeys please...

or would you rather listen to your friends, whose religion was created by a science fiction writer who is quoted as saying

and this is not exact: "If you want to make a lot of money, start a religion"...

I'm not a scientologist, I'm a Christian, but they make some valid points about psycholgists. I don't think I can put my faith into someone who's taught that every male wants to bang his mother and every female wants her father to bang her.

anachronism
10-23-2007, 10:44 PM
I don't think I can put my faith into someone who's taught that every male wants to bang his mother and every female wants her father to bang her.

You're talking about Freud's ideas... no modern psychologist takes Freud seriously.

stormholloway
10-23-2007, 10:49 PM
Anyone ever use a sports psychologist? I feel like this is a ridiculous thing to post here, but I've been pleasantly surprised many times before on this forum with some REALLY helpful suggestions, so here goes:

I am about to quit tennis over the difference between my skills at warmup and during competitive play. I am not one to give myself much credit, but seriously I can hit like a 4.5-5.0 player during practice or warmups, but during actual play I am absolutely terrible! (That might be a little harsh). I am currently playing Team Tennis doubles at 4.0 and losing like crazy. I am wondering if anyone has had any luck with a sports psychologist, or do I just need to give up play for a while and strictly work on drills?
If someone suggests going the psych route, can anyone recommend one in the Dallas area?

This is a total mental psyche out dude. I know because I've been suffering with it.

Luckily I have the solution: quit tennis.

No, seriously. This is about confidence and the fear of losing. Instead of throwing your game at your opponent, you're probably thinking about losing, or not screwing up.

I have mainly been suffering with my serve in match play. In practice, it's a bomb, but in play, it's just not the same at all. I'm like the guy in the movie who's got the gun in his shaking hand, afraid to pull the trigger. You need some testosterone pumping.

You're not out there to avoid losing. You're out there to play your game and have fun. If you play your game like you know how, you might win.

Also, go buy The Inner Game of Tennis. Best tennis book out there.

Also also, you may feel like quitting, but keep in mind your goal is to improve and play good tennis. Winning is more of a distraction than anything. There is a lot of positive to take from losing much of the time. Don't view a loss as a loss. View it as an experience that helped you gain insight as to what you can work on. Assuming your problems aren't technique-related, you need to think your way through this problem.

If all else fails, just play like you've got nothing to lose.

Cindysphinx
10-24-2007, 06:15 AM
Oh, man. I totally feel your pain.

It sounds like you judge your tennis game by how well you do in non-competitive situations. In fact, your tennis game is only as good as how well you play in a competitive situation. View things that way and perhaps you won't set yourself up to underperform in your own mind.

I think it is just a matter of managing expectations. When I (a Serial Loser in matches) take the court, I *expect* to be nervous. I *expect* to miss easy volleys. I *expect* to look nothing like the player I am in practice.

This is really helping me mentally. It keeps me from spiraling into a funk during a match. I try not to think "Doh! I missed that easy put-away! Well, I'll show everyone I can hit!", leading to a bunch of errors due to impatience and overhitting. Instead, I think "Ah, well. A blown put-away. No problem. It happens. Let's just move the feet and keep at it."

Do. Not. Quit.

Chauvalito
10-24-2007, 06:44 AM
I'm not a scientologist, I'm a Christian, but they make some valid points about psycholgists. I don't think I can put my faith into someone who's taught that every male wants to bang his mother and every female wants her father to bang her.

Rickson, please...yes, what you describe was thought to be true in freud's time. The Electra complex and the oedipus complex were interesting theories at the time.

These theories were only popular among psychoanalists up until the 1950's. But by this time the majority of psychologists and psychiatrists have discounted much of Freud's work.

In other words, most of what Freud thought up has become ignored over the last 50 years.

Both mental health fields have moved toward scientific investigation, rather than introspection for studying psychological phenomena and treatment.

psychoanalysis is on its way out, and is only really practiced in a minority of places, it is still big in Europe, but they are moving more toward evidence based treatment.

Most Evidence based treatments are Cognitive behavioral centered, meaning that they focus on the nature of your thinking, and in turn focus on the behavior that is produced from that thinking. There have been many, many, randomized clinical trials detailing the effectiveness of this approach over ther last 20 years published in prestigious scientific journals and books.

Freud's ideas, like the 2 you mentioned, are largely ignored, and have been disproved in the literature.

My own professor in class one day said sarcastically "we still teach freud?".

Your quite right in saying that you would be crazy to put your faith into somone who said what you have stated.

Psychology and psychiatry have moved beyond Freud and it is mainly a stereotype that he still gets mentioned.

laff66
10-24-2007, 07:00 AM
Thanks for all the good input. I actually don't feel nervous when I play, and I don't mind losing. Its just driving me crazy that I keep missing the same shots over and over!
Cindysphinx, I think you hit the nail on the head talking about expectations. I absolutely have been disappointed all my life when I don't play like I practice. I realize thats ridiculous now, since everyone has some of the same issues, and they're also hitting harder, deeper shots in warmup, which are much easier for me to deal with. Plus, they're hitting them right to me! DUH! Why didn't I think of that??
I really would never think of quitting, I guess I was venting since I had just gotten home from a terrible match last night when I posted my message. It didn't help that my partner was doing things like shaking his head when I messed up. Thanks Mr. Perfect, thats really helping me out!

Tennismastery
10-24-2007, 07:10 AM
Back to the OP's dilemma:

Perhaps an over simplified generalization here, but you simply lack playing confidence. You have ample stroke skills, (it sounds like), but you are creating pressure on yourself through the thoughts of losing interferring with your ability to 'play' tennis.

A truly confident player does not look at misses as a qualitatitive or quantatative result or even as a means to an end. They look FORWARD to the next shot as a chance to shine, a chance to do what they know they are capable of. A great example of this was whenever Michael Jordan had an off night shooting, he never quit putting it up. He would shoot even more. He KNEW he would start making shots at any given time.

You must go into your matches without thinking about past focus or future focus, (thinking about mistakes previously made, previous loses, wins, or great shots made...nor about what the results of any given match will mean or what your friends will think of you or what your opponents will think of you.) You must mentally prepare for only one thing during any given match:

THE NEXT SHOT

Anything outside of what you want that next shot to do, (ie: picturing a dipping crosscourt return, drop shot or lob, attacking GS, slice approach, etc.), will only pollute and corrupt the stroke at hand.

There are many training methods to use, including a simple drill of counting out loud how many volleys you can hit in a row without missing. This drill puts your mind in the right context of trying to surpass your previously high number. When you get close to your high number, you will start to increase your mental focus...and when you pass it, you also try harder to see how far you can get. (This is an overly simple drill that may or may not solve all your problems...but, like anything, you will want to work in many different patterns to improve.)

Read "Breaking Back" by James Blake. It shares his frustration with his broken back, his loss of his dad, his shingles and yet, overcame many of the classic elements of a loss of confidence and how he overcame such feelings.

Inner Game, Winning Ugly, and my favorite, Tennis Mastery, (Duh!) are books that can open your eyes too.

Good luck and don't quit. You are always a day away from a winning streak, a great comeback, a great win, and other things that can change the way you think about your game.

Fred132
10-24-2007, 07:16 AM
It didn't help that my partner was doing things like shaking his head when I messed up. Thanks Mr. Perfect, thats really helping me out!

Can you choose your partner? In doubles it makes a huge difference for me.
I want nothing but unqualified support from a doubles partner...any negativity makes me play worse.

laff66
10-24-2007, 07:49 AM
Great post from TennisMastery, thanks.
On the doubles partner, we don't have much choice, although I can tell you I will not be playing with the guy I mentioned previously anymore. That encounter was just a regular weeknight meetup that a bunch of us have. It just depends on who shows up.
Thats something our team is definitely lacking - consistency with playing partners.

fuzz nation
10-24-2007, 09:28 AM
I've cracked a few books to learn a better process of thinking when I compete (I suck at tennis, too!) and it's helped me more than just a little. My expectations on the court used to be almost completely out of touch with reality, but the gurus know a thing or two about managing the ol' grey matter. Dave's book is next on my list and I've also had a lot of fun with the wisdom of Vic Braden. The reading was even helpful for coaching high school kids - I'm convinced that they need good psychology more than anyone and they respond to good input in a hurry.

Off to the bookstore...

Trinity TC
10-24-2007, 12:08 PM
Thanks for all the good input. I actually don't feel nervous when I play, and I don't mind losing. Its just driving me crazy that I keep missing the same shots over and over!
That's ego talking there. That will mess up your game almost as much as...well I can't really think of anything that is worse in tennis than your own ego and pride getting in the way after you miss a shot. You're otherwise probably a very good player. Did I mention that most good tennis players have amnesia after they hit a bad shot?:)

power_play21
10-24-2007, 12:21 PM
I'm not a scientologist, I'm a Christian, but they make some valid points about psycholgists. I don't think I can put my faith into someone who's taught that every male wants to bang his mother and every female wants her father to bang her.

You're talking about Freud's ideas... no modern psychologist takes Freud seriously.

both of you are out of your minds.

first, freuds theories have many applications, and the described complexes are not literal, there is much more depth then either of you, especially the first poster, are giving it.

regarding the second post, do you know what modern psychologists do to be able to say that ? because last time i took 3 psychology courses here at school for my human bio degree, freud's theories were heavily used in and of themselves, and built upon to arrive at many notions we regard as important today.

just as with the racquet suggestion part of this forum, people are talking out of their asses here.

BeHappy
10-24-2007, 12:21 PM
to the op

email me at buttertastesreallynice@yahoo.com

I can't explain why

Btw, I am not going to spam you or anything, I suggest you make a new email address for talktennis at yahoo, only takes two seconds.

You can look back over my posts to see that I only try to help pople as regards tennis

Rickson
10-24-2007, 04:35 PM
Laff, I may not believe in psycholgists, due to some influence of course, but if you're having problems on the court, get some tips from your tennis buddies and that includes us, before you spend all your hard earned cash on a sports psychologist. You can fix this losing streak and we'll help you any way we can, even if it can't be in person. The key to victory is confidence. Be confident in your strokes because a lack of confidence will cause you to hesitate and second guess yourself. Remember, hit with confidence.

laff66
10-24-2007, 06:06 PM
I'm not really sure how my ego is involved??

J011yroger
10-24-2007, 06:22 PM
I see a mental coach. It made a huge difference for me. It still is making a huge difference for me.

J

BeHappy
10-24-2007, 06:29 PM
just a quick bit off advice laff, that last bit of advice by jollyroger is pretty nuetral, but as regards technique or anything, never ever take his advice.

snoopy
10-24-2007, 06:51 PM
Stay the heck away from scientologists. They will suck you in and you will be screwed for life. I'm sure at least some of the stuff they say makes a little bit of sense. Heck they can't be totally insane. But the vast, vast majority of their teachings are whack. They are very much a cult. They will absorb your life and try and separate you from your family. Just look at Tom Crusie, need I say more.

Check out this site for info:

http://www.xenu.net/

Watch the video on scientology by the bbc here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6650545.stm

Don't let your friends try and recruit you. They say they won't but they will.

Rickson
10-24-2007, 07:06 PM
Stay the heck away from scientologists. They will suck you in and you will be screwed for life. I'm sure at least some of the stuff they say makes a little bit of sense. Heck they can't be totally insane. But the vast, vast majority of their teachings are whack. They are very much a cult. They will absorb your life and try and separate you from your family. Just look at Tom Crusie, need I say more.

Check out this site for info:

http://www.xenu.net/

Watch the video on scientology by the bbc here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6650545.stm

Don't let your friends try and recruit you. They say they won't but they will.

They're not recruiting me because I have deep Christian roots, but their anti-psychology stance makes sense to me. Psychology isn't a real science and as far as I'm concerned, it's voodoo medicine.

Mountain Ghost
10-24-2007, 08:17 PM
Laff66, why are you writing down these negative affirmations and broadcasting them to the UNIVERSE? It’s one thing to think negative thoughts, and maybe even to talk to someone about them, but to organize them into a prepared “mental” list and then to type them into your computer so they can reenter your brain through your physical eyes and be amplified/memorized visually is just over the top.

- “It’s official, I suck at tennis” --- No, it’s NOT “Official” at all. You’re just being an Official WIMP.
- “I am about to quit tennis” --- That will NOT help at ALL. It will only PROVE you’re a wimp.
- “I am not one to give myself much credit” --- “Credit” does not make a “player” . . . WORK does.
- “during actual play I am absolutely terrible!” --- “Results” do not make a “player” . . . WORK does.
- “I am currently . . . losing like crazy” --- Maybe, but at least you’re playing enough to lose like crazy.
- “do I just need to give up play for a while” --- NO, NO, and again NO! You need to PLAY MORE!

As for nervousness, since tennis is not an actual life-vs-death environment, your lack of effectiveness under pressure is ALL about ego . . . worrying about a non-here-and-now outcome that truly affects self-image only. In reality, EVERY SHOT is a new world, completely disconnected from all others! You need to temporarily drop the ego-gratification requirement in your life, completely kick the ego-suicide tactics you are currently employing and keep playing. If you can learn to focus on your technical game as much as you worry about your mental game, and come back to “center” after every shot, good things CAN happen. Take that “shrink” money you were thinking of throwing away and give it to a GOOD tennis pro.

MG

pushing_wins
10-24-2007, 09:36 PM
Anyone ever use a sports psychologist? I feel like this is a ridiculous thing to post here, but I've been pleasantly surprised many times before on this forum with some REALLY helpful suggestions, so here goes:

I am about to quit tennis over the difference between my skills at warmup and during competitive play. I am not one to give myself much credit, but seriously I can hit like a 4.5-5.0 player during practice or warmups, but during actual play I am absolutely terrible! (That might be a little harsh). I am currently playing Team Tennis doubles at 4.0 and losing like crazy. I am wondering if anyone has had any luck with a sports psychologist, or do I just need to give up play for a while and strictly work on drills?
If someone suggests going the psych route, can anyone recommend one in the Dallas area?

if i had a nickel for everytime someone who claims to be good and cant play matches

laff66
10-25-2007, 03:49 PM
pushing wins, if you had a nickel... then what? I don't think I claimed to be good if you read my post.

BeHappy
10-25-2007, 03:51 PM
pushing wins, if you had a nickel... then what? I don't think I claimed to be good if you read my post.

did you get those emails?

laff66
10-25-2007, 05:22 PM
absolutely, thank you very much!! I thought I replied to you directly, but if not, I will.