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View Full Version : How to develop the guts to go for your shots.


oneguy21
01-17-2009, 03:34 PM
Whenever I got a ball that should be crushed, I choke and I just hit a loopy shot back. I'm just too scared it might go out. How do you develop the mentality to just go for that big shot? Do you just keep on practicing? I know I have the ability to hit huge forehands, but I never do unless the ball is very short. Should I just keep on practicing hitting hard to get comfortable with it?

LeeD
01-17-2009, 03:38 PM
Of course, tons of practice allows you to know that crusher ball is going in.
But personality has something to do with it. Maybe you're content to rally foreever and crush your opponent by attrition, rather than big strike and over.
Missing is a bummer, of course, but if you practice lots, you'll know the percentage of your big shots, and should be able to apply those shots WHEN THEY ARE NEEDED.
Some players dictate every point. Some players dictate some points. Some players react to their opponents shots. Which are you?

WildVolley
01-17-2009, 03:58 PM
You definitely need to keep practicing until you have confidence in the shot, but that's not enough. At some point, you need to pull the trigger during match play.

Relax, keep your head still and let your body do what you've trained it to do. Things won't necessarily go well, but once you rip it the way you want during match play, it becomes easier to do it again. You probably have a mental block that's holding you back. You've got to just play through it until it becomes a solid rally ball, not a low probability all or nothing shot.

junbumkim
01-17-2009, 04:06 PM
Practice can build confience but you need to play more and more matches to find out your range, what shots you have and don't have.

Jim A
01-17-2009, 06:05 PM
I've been going through this as my strokes come back slowly but surely...took some drill classes to work on what I should be doing on the short/easy ball...then when I'm in a match, I just go for it.

Basically I'd rather make a mistake doing it the right way then get into habits trying to beat people whom I'm trying to advance past..that was part of the deal when I started working with someone recently, we are overhauling my game and I'm likely going to lose some matches I could win by playing the current game, but it won't work at the next level..

mtommer
01-17-2009, 06:42 PM
Whenever I got a ball that should be crushed, I choke and I just hit a loopy shot back. I'm just too scared it might go out. How do you develop the mentality to just go for that big shot? Do you just keep on practicing? I know I have the ability to hit huge forehands, but I never do unless the ball is very short. Should I just keep on practicing hitting hard to get comfortable with it?

Honestly? Hit a few of them out. Seriously, just hit a few out on purpose. You can't learn to play good matches in one match. It's a process like everything else. Once you hit a few out, you'll realize it's not that big a deal. Then, concentrate on hitting a few in. After hitting a few out you'll get a feeling of what you could have done to hit them in and you, hopefully, will concentrate more on the fun of the challenge of getting them in instead of worrying about the match. The next thing you know you "look up" and you realize that you've been playing tennis well and it's a huge confidence boost. From here you'll start playing much better.

Mick
01-17-2009, 06:44 PM
you think it's tough to that in singles, try doing it in doubles.
if you fail to execute the shot, not only would you lose the point but your doubles partner would give you a dirty look :)

the pressure to pull the trigger in singles is much less, imho.

RoddickistheMan
01-17-2009, 06:50 PM
I had this same problem. I used to hit the crap out of the ball during practice drills so hard and efficient that people would say wow...Then when I played matches I was a compleltely different player. In fact so bad I got beat by a 15 year old girl. At this point I told myself that enough was enough Id rather lose by playing with guts and hitting the ball the way i know I can then lose playing like a sissy. The secret that changed everything for me was the universal truth for anything. When u think too much or hold urself back u ultimately fail. Think about it...you perform ur best at anything when u dont think about things too much or when u dont fear loss. You ever return a serve when you call the ball out and you come up with one of the best returns you ever hit. Its not technique its all mental. Dont fear loss and go for your strokes no one is judging you out there so if u miss just shrug it off. You ever watch a pro match they miss all the time. Also one other tip is start off further from the baseline..this allows you more time to groove and set up your strokes then you can start moving closer.

BU-Tennis
01-17-2009, 06:50 PM
Honestly? Hit a few of them out. Seriously, just hit a few out on purpose. You can't learn to play good matches in one match. It's a process like everything else. Once you hit a few out, you'll realize it's not that big a deal.

Why would you EVER want to miss some balls on purpose. What would this prove? Sure you might be able to still win but your thinking is way off. You shouldn't miss on purpose you should try to get them in but if you do miss it won't be a huge deal over the course of a game or entire match (unless it is match point and its the first one you tried). Hitting some out gives you know idea how to hit them in. If you hit one out then maybe you can garner some information as too WHY it went out and try to fix that problem.

I hate the stigma that everytime you hit a ball out you have done something wrong. If I miss long or wide by less than an inch and I had to go for a shot like that or risk losing the point anyway than I've done nothing wrong.

Just go out and hit the ball hard early in the match. Don't go crazy with it though just controlled power.

SirBlend12
01-17-2009, 06:52 PM
My advice is a little different...

It's based on if you have the strokes to do what you intend to (crush the ball, as you said: forget that you have points you have to win. Forget that you are in the midst of a serious match with anything at stake. Forget your opponent, the possibility of an error, anyone watching the match, or what the score is. Completely erase all of it from your mind. Focus fully on the shot. Imagine it being hit, flying past the net, and landing in in a huge way. Relax, slow things down from within, and think of nothing but hammering that shot the way you intend to to the best of your ability.

Half of the battle is believing you can make the shot. The other half is committing to your beliefs.:)

mtommer
01-17-2009, 10:53 PM
Why would you EVER want to miss some balls on purpose.

Good question. Why would you? Well, because so much about translating your "just hitting around" play into match play is about relaxing, developing confidence and relaxing. In order to relax you have to let go of those inhibitions that hold you back. Major inhibition? Constantly hitting out which in turns cause a lot of frustration, anger and subsequent loss of confidence. Forcing yourself to confront that fear by inducing it yourself can really be a confidence booster. You realize that hitting a ball out isn't the end of the world and that's it's okay to have a ball sail on you every now and then. When you realize that, you lose the hesitancy that was keeping you dinking balls in instead of hitting your strokes like you know you can. The OP doesn't need to learn how to hit good shots, the OP needs to learn to be comfortable with missing. The best way to become comfortable with that is to practice it like you would practice to get better at tennis strokes.

BU-Tennis
01-18-2009, 07:22 AM
Good question. Why would you? Well, because so much about translating your "just hitting around" play into match play is about relaxing, developing confidence and relaxing. In order to relax you have to let go of those inhibitions that hold you back. Major inhibition? Constantly hitting out which in turns cause a lot of frustration, anger and subsequent loss of confidence. Forcing yourself to confront that fear by inducing it yourself can really be a confidence booster. You realize that hitting a ball out isn't the end of the world and that's it's okay to have a ball sail on you every now and then. When you realize that, you lose the hesitancy that was keeping you dinking balls in instead of hitting your strokes like you know you can. The OP doesn't need to learn how to hit good shots, the OP needs to learn to be comfortable with missing. The best way to become comfortable with that is to practice it like you would practice to get better at tennis strokes.

Ok the idea that missing one shot isn't the end of the world is true. But you don't build confidence by missing. You build confidence by hitting good strokes. He should go for some shots during a match but not miss on purpose. What will this prove? NOTHING!!! Only that I know how to miss!

Go for your shots when the opportunity arises and if you miss its ok and if you make it then even better. Either way you will learn some important lessons and get some good information about yourself. BUT DON'T MISS ON PURPOSE DUH!!!

The only time i suggest missing on purpose is in practice and you just try to hit the shot as hard as possible to get a feeling for the power and how to generate it.

ThA_Azn_DeViL
01-18-2009, 07:35 AM
Ok the idea that missing one shot isn't the end of the world is true. But you don't build confidence by missing. You build confidence by hitting good strokes. He should go for some shots during a match but not miss on purpose. What will this prove? NOTHING!!! Only that I know how to miss!

Go for your shots when the opportunity arises and if you miss its ok and if you make it then even better. Either way you will learn some important lessons and get some good information about yourself. BUT DON'T MISS ON PURPOSE DUH!!!

The only time i suggest missing on purpose is in practice and you just try to hit the shot as hard as possible to get a feeling for the power and how to generate it.

I'm going to have to disagree. YOU ARE TRYING TO HIT GOOD STROKES, read what the OP is asking, how can you build confidence and get good strokes if your nervous?

the bolded part: you basically restated what he said, hitting the shot out on purpose a couple times makes it feel like practice hitting, so your mind will obviously adjust to it.

raiden031
01-18-2009, 07:35 AM
During this process I went into my matches expecting to lose, even when I felt they were inferior opponents. I told myself I would go for a winner on every weak ball no matter what happened. I knew I was going to lose so there was less pressure. It was about improving my game, not beating an opponent. Needless to say I lost ALOT of matches that I should not have lost had I played within the game that I owned, but that game was not acceptable to me. Eventually when I started owning this new, aggressive game, I started beating these guys easily and no longer feared overhitting.

Now I'm trying to go from baseliner to more S&V and go through the same process again. I don't own S&V yet, so I feel a little uncomfortable to do it in a match, but you just gotta sacrifice some matches for the greater good, which is becoming a solid, advanced player down the road.

EDIT: One thing to warn is that you should be careful not to go for shots where the opportunity isn't there. This is a bad habit to get into and being able to choose the right shot selection is an important part of developing as a player.

BU-Tennis
01-18-2009, 08:30 AM
I'm going to have to disagree. YOU ARE TRYING TO HIT GOOD STROKES, read what the OP is asking, how can you build confidence and get good strokes if your nervous?

the bolded part: you basically restated what he said, hitting the shot out on purpose a couple times makes it feel like practice hitting, so your mind will obviously adjust to it.

The bolded part did not say to hit the ball out. It said if the ball does go out its not the end of the world. There is a difference between hitting a ball out on purpose and being able to let it go when the ball does go out. The poster above me has said it best. You have to try things in matches even if you know that you're not the best at it yet because there is nothing like match play. Even playing matches in practice does not compare to the energy, feelings, and environment of a real match.

HOW DOES HITTING IT OUT ON PURPOSE MAKE IT FEEL LIKE PRACTICE? DO YOU USUALLY TRY TO HIT BALLS OUTSIDE OF THE LINES WHEN PRACTICING? Even when practicing most people get disappointed and feel bad when they miss.

It is when we make those tough shots that our confidence soars and it is our ability to let it go when we hit a bad shot that allows us to keep our confidence up.

SmAsH999
01-18-2009, 08:35 AM
Should I just keep on practicing hitting hard to get comfortable with it?
As my coach always tells me, depending on your opponent, change your game. If you think your opponent is better than you, take advantage of every inch of opportunity. Once you get to NTRP 5, 5.5, i'd suggest going for a winner on any weak ball within the baseline by several feet.

RoddickAce
01-18-2009, 08:47 AM
My advice is a little different...

It's based on if you have the strokes to do what you intend to (crush the ball, as you said: forget that you have points you have to win. Forget that you are in the midst of a serious match with anything at stake. Forget your opponent, the possibility of an error, anyone watching the match, or what the score is. Completely erase all of it from your mind. Focus fully on the shot. Imagine it being hit, flying past the net, and landing in in a huge way. Relax, slow things down from within, and think of nothing but hammering that shot the way you intend to to the best of your ability.

Half of the battle is believing you can make the shot. The other half is committing to your beliefs.:)

Well said...well said

mtommer
01-18-2009, 09:19 AM
Go for your shots when the opportunity arises and if you miss its ok and if you make it then even better. Either way you will learn some important lessons and get some good information about yourself. BUT DON'T MISS ON PURPOSE DUH!!!



I agree with you on principle but the problem is that the OP (and there are many like you OP, it's okay and don't be discouraged) can't do this. This the problem. The OP can't take that step. He (he? I'll assume he) knows that this is what he's supposed to do. He knows it makes sense. But still, he can't bring himself to do it. The block can't be defeated by rationalizing or good argument. It can only be defeated by facing the fear, working through it and thus conquering it. Also understand that this isn't usually something that takes months or years to process through. It's really about making a decision and once that decision is made your turn around and putting things in the correct perspective is nearly instant. You go from dinking balls one shot to playing YOUR game, hitting YOUR shots, the very next shot. Sure, it doesn't always happen like this but I've seen it happen in many many students I've taught. They stop learning to be afraid and they start having fun and enjoying the game immediately.

mtommer
01-18-2009, 09:24 AM
During this process I went into my matches expecting to lose, even when I felt they were inferior opponents. I told myself I would go for a winner on every weak ball no matter what happened. I knew I was going to lose so there was less pressure. It was about improving my game, not beating an opponent. Needless to say I lost ALOT of matches that I should not have lost had I played within the game that I owned, but that game was not acceptable to me. Eventually when I started owning this new, aggressive game, I started beating these guys easily and no longer feared overhitting.

Now I'm trying to go from baseliner to more S&V and go through the same process again. I don't own S&V yet, so I feel a little uncomfortable to do it in a match, but you just gotta sacrifice some matches for the greater good, which is becoming a solid, advanced player down the road.



Exactly. You're putting yourself in a position where you already know you're going to fail so it becomes okay to fail. But you also know you're doing it because you know that to fail now is to succeed later. Even Sampras mentions this process a bit in his book when he talks about changing from a two handed BH to a OHBH. In yours and Sampras' case you know that you can hit balls in and you're not afraid to miss. Now the OP has to get to your stage. He's not there yet but he will be close once he learns to let go of his fear.

ThA_Azn_DeViL
01-18-2009, 09:27 AM
The bolded part did not say to hit the ball out. It said if the ball does go out its not the end of the world. There is a difference between hitting a ball out on purpose and being able to let it go when the ball does go out. The poster above me has said it best. You have to try things in matches even if you know that you're not the best at it yet because there is nothing like match play. Even playing matches in practice does not compare to the energy, feelings, and environment of a real match.

HOW DOES HITTING IT OUT ON PURPOSE MAKE IT FEEL LIKE PRACTICE? DO YOU USUALLY TRY TO HIT BALLS OUTSIDE OF THE LINES WHEN PRACTICING? Even when practicing most people get disappointed and feel bad when they miss.

It is when we make those tough shots that our confidence soars and it is our ability to let it go when we hit a bad shot that allows us to keep our confidence up.

needless to say, try it out and you'll see for yourself.

S H O W S T O P P E R !
01-18-2009, 10:01 AM
CONFIDENCE. If you know that the ball should be crushed, then just crush it. Practice comes from confidence and moreover, instinct. Follow your instincts as well.

BU-Tennis
01-18-2009, 11:33 AM
Exactly. You're putting yourself in a position where you already know you're going to fail so it becomes okay to fail. But you also know you're doing it because you know that to fail now is to succeed later. Even Sampras mentions this process a bit in his book when he talks about changing from a two handed BH to a OHBH. In yours and Sampras' case you know that you can hit balls in and you're not afraid to miss. Now the OP has to get to your stage. He's not there yet but he will be close once he learns to let go of his fear.

But the way to put yourself into the mindset of "winning isn't everything and i am doing this to improve my game" doesn't come from PURPOSELY missing shots. Sure, when you employ a new strategy of being aggressive you have to understand that you are going to miss more, A LOT more, than usual, but the misses should come from a shot that is meant to go in.

To the OP, I went through this process just like you. Now i'm in the stages of balancing when to be aggressive and when not to. Once you get over the fact of being to defensive you might find yourself being overly aggressive. Put some limits in your mind as to when you're going to be aggressive. For instance, if you're behind the baseline you should never try and go for a pure winner based on speed but more on placement and spin. But on your next match say "anytime I can hit a ball inside the baseline i'm going to be aggressive and try to dictate the point." After doing this for maybe only a few games you'll find that you're not afraid to go for shots.

I suggest taking a notebook on court with you and write down which shots you can hit and which shots you cant. So that when you start being aggressive you'll know your strengths and weaknesses and when to take bigger chances.

mtommer
01-18-2009, 01:11 PM
But the way to put yourself into the mindset of "winning isn't everything and i am doing this to improve my game" doesn't come from PURPOSELY missing shots. Sure, when you employ a new strategy of being aggressive you have to understand that you are going to miss more, A LOT more, than usual, but the misses should come from a shot that is meant to go in.


It doesn't work for everyone, sure. Some of the people I've taught it works for so it can work. It's also not just about "winning isn't everything...". Sometimes there are other issues besides just tying to win that even the player isn't aware of at the time. These can include (but certainly not limited to) wanting to be taken seriously by other players, general performance anxiety under pressure, trying to do too much, etc. It doesn't just show someone that missing is okay. It also can bring back the fun of just playing that the nerves and over-thinking can obfuscate. It's taking a load of the shoulders.

Different things work for different people and I've learned a lot about this through teaching others tennis. I think it's good that the OP has several suggestions to try from this thread. You mention important things too Bu-Tennis and hopefully the OP will find something that works for him. Good luck OP and keep us updated.

Bagumbawalla
01-18-2009, 01:44 PM
Imagine this- It's the server's advantage, you receive ahard, fast first serve. It is a couple inches out. You say, "Out", then drive the (now, meaningless) ball down the line into the corner for what would be a perfect winner.

The next serve is slower, it sits up, you try to power through it but just send it into the net.

Well, there is some kind of zen saying that has to do with treating a beggar and a king exactly the same.

In everyday life there are thousands of examples-- You have to give a speeches in front of class- some will tighten up and become completely unnatural- others seem perfectly at ease, as if they were chatting with an old best friend.

So, yes, practice and mastering the strokes builds convidence, but attitude is also a factor.

If you see the ball as different, all important, requiring special treatment, if it makes you nervous, over-react, over-think, then all that training is for nothing.

Learn to think of every ball as, basically, the same- just a ball that needs to be hit to the opposite court, to a specific spot, for a specific purpous.

Anything more than that, and you are overloading yourself with imaginary fears.