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Lotto
01-03-2009, 11:08 AM
I just want some tips on my mental game.

Basically, here's the problem:

Last night, I was playing my dad in a set and I won it 6-2. I was playing quite well, I was serving and I was placing the ball pretty well, I was serving and volleying well, I was putting away probably every forehand bar one or two. And, I was killing him with my backhand up the line, I was hitting winners on the run and everything with the single handed backhand.

We went down for a hit today, and he asked me if I wanted to challenge him, see he's No.3 in the club I play at and I had just put my name on the ladder about 7 months ago but hadn't challenged anybody so I was probably around 40th out of around 45. So, we played the challenge match,

I lost the first set 6-4, one lapse in concentration on my serve and had the break, for some reason I couldn't get a hold of his serve at all, I couldn't get a good rhythm going on my returns. The second set at 4-4 I broke him to 15 and served it out to win the 2nd 6-4. And in the third I dominated him and won it 6-2 so I move up to No.3 in the club, there's something nice :)

On the other hand, my forehand wasn't working at all. I couldn't control it and I wasn't hitting my usual winners, I was struggling to consistently get it back in play. So, at around 4-4 in the 2nd when I broke him I started using the reverse forehand on nearly every point I started creating loads of angles and really ripping it and it was controlled because of the extra topspin. This was probably the most important change I made in the match.

My backhand on the other hand was disastourous. My usually consistent backhand and one that I love to rip up the line was "gone", it had "disappeared" over night. I was slicing for the first two sets and then in the third in one point, I hit a slice up the line to hit forehand, and then I hit a second one up the line, and then he played it to my backhand and for the first time I drilled a down the line topspin backhand winner and I did it again two points later. It had somehow "magically" reappeared for some reason.

But my forehand was still not it's usual self. :(

Does anybody know why this is? I think it's self-belief. I think sometimes that just before I go to hit it a small doubt pops into my mind that says "No, don't do that". But when it's not there it works brilliantly.

Anyone know how to correct this? Strokes just don't disappear out of nowhere.

And also my concentration is crap!! My definition of concentration is:

I'm totally focused, I'm like 100% aware of what I'm doing, I'm not "thinking" about what I'm doing but I'm aware of what I am doing at all times. I'm also watching the ball all of the time. I seem to be able to "become aware" at will but can maintain it for like 2 seconds, usually as they start their service motion and then when they hit the ball it's gone again, lol.

BestLefty UK
01-03-2009, 11:16 AM
It may have something to do with pressure. You see... the first time you played him nothing was on the line and you were free to play the way you wanted to, where as the second match meant something, it meant you would move up to no.3. Thats just a theory but it may be the reason. To overcome this problem you'll need to play more actual matches.
Another reason is that you can't always play your best. Sometimes you have to dig deep and stay firmly focused on the task ahead.

Lotto
01-03-2009, 11:19 AM
It may have something to do with pressure. You see... the first time you played him nothing was on the line and you were free to play the way you wanted to, where as the second match meant something, it meant you would move up to no.3. Thats just a theory but it may be the reason. To overcome this problem you'll need to play more actual matches.
Another reason is that you can't always play your best. Sometimes you have to dig deep and stay firmly focused on the task ahead.


I do set the bar high. It's always happens in national tournaments aswell. I go in, have a coaching session the day before, hitting every shot sweetly, win a few practice matches and then the next day, EVERYTHING breaks down and I physically can't hit the ball, you'd think I'd never played tennis before.

BestLefty UK
01-03-2009, 02:32 PM
All I would say then, is that you should focus more on the outcome of the point becuz you already no what your capable. Just stick to your game plan and everything will fall into place and so what if you lose a couple matches becuz in the long run you'll get used to the pressure and improve overall

Kevo
01-03-2009, 02:48 PM
This is a pretty normal thing. Being mentally tough in a match is a learning process. Very few people are totally comfortable playing matches when they start out. It's just different when it counts.

One thing you might try is let go of the win or lose type mentality and make a pledge that you are going to simply try to make the other guy look good. I know it sounds kind of strange, but don't try to hit any winners or anything. Just hit solid shots with the intention that your opponent will hit it back. Keep the ball in play as long as possible and try to win points solely by collecting misses from the other player. Give him balls to hit, try to hit deep and wide, but no winners. Hit a ball you expect your opponent to get to.

Playing this way is a valuable exercise IMO, and it takes some of the pressure off. One thing you must do though is never let a ball get past you. Your goal is to get 100 balls or more in play if that's what it takes for your opponent to miss. In tennis, there is no shame in getting beat by a better player. If you look at the wimbledon final, perhaps the greatest tennis match ever, it took two people to make that happen.

BestLefty UK
01-03-2009, 02:57 PM
Kevo, I'm not arguing with you I just wanna see what your take is on this. You know what you said about not trying to hit any winners and basically being defensive, well wouldn't you agree that this wouldn't overcome his problem but instead just change his game into a type most people find unattractive albeit effective to a certain level?

Lotto
01-03-2009, 03:01 PM
Kevo, that would be really hard for me. I can play like that but it's not my natural style. I'm an attacking player, I attack all of the time, defending is only something I do for fun in practice matches.