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View Full Version : Can't get out of a long funk of bad playing


goober
02-01-2009, 11:23 AM
After I had an ankle injury in November I took 6-7 weeks. Ever since then I have been playing bad tennis. At first I just attributed to being off for awhile. My injury is healed but I am wearing a brace. It is getting to the point where I can't blame that any more. People I use to beat easily I now can barely beat and sometimes lose to. Pretty much every 4.5 I have played has won fairly easily. Before my injury I played a 4.5B player to 3rd set tiebreak.

I thought it was just a matter of confidence and I could eventually "play" my way out of it. So far it hasn't happened. To top it off I lost a first round playoff match in straight sets against a tough opponent (plays 4.5 doubles and 4.0 singles with a winning record at each level, but somehow didn't get bumped). The captain decides to bench me for the deciding final match. The guy who is replacing me has a losing 4.0 league record. That exactly wasn't a shot in the arm for my confidence.

Should I just stop playing matches and practice for awhile? Anybody have a long stretch of bad tennis and get out of it?

raiden031
02-01-2009, 12:13 PM
I feel your pain. But I feel like this season is going to be a complete dud for me. I found my way onto the 1st place 8.0 mixed team and was welcome onto a 4.0 men's spring team that was in contention for the top spot last year but didn't quite grab it and is ready to do it this year. Well I'm not a contributor on 8.0 mixed and probably won't play much on my 4.0 team. I feel I will be lucky to play 4 USTA matches in 2009. I should have held out for low-ranked teams where there is no pressure to perform and the team doesn't have to play their go-to teams every match to stay on top. What ever was I thinking?

I should have petitioned the USTA over the BS double-bump that is going to F me over this season when as much as I want to be a 4.0, what good is it if I can't even be a team contributor?

Topaz
02-01-2009, 12:19 PM
Goober, have you been able to pin down the reasons why these guys are beating you? What is it that they are doing to win the points? Is it your shot selection, are you hitting too many errors, is your fitness up to par, etc, etc?

It is not unreasonable to lose some 'game' while you are out with an injury. You can't necessarily expect to be back where you were when you stopped, though I'm sure you are frustrated to not be back there by now.

My best idea is to try to do some match analysis, figure out what is the 'hole' in your game right now, and work to patch that up.

Good luck...let us know how it goes!

RoddickAce
02-01-2009, 12:22 PM
I guess you just have to power your way through it. I was sidelined for 1.5-2 years cuz of a knee injury!:( When I started playing again, everything was off, serve power was not as high, backhand timing was off, footwork was awkward and clumsy. But after around 3-4 months of playing again + help from tw posters, I'm back in the groove and playing ok again.

raiden031
02-01-2009, 12:29 PM
I thought it was just a matter of confidence and I could eventually "play" my way out of it. So far it hasn't happened. To top it off I lost a first round playoff match in straight sets against a tough opponent (plays 4.5 doubles and 4.0 singles with a winning record at each level, but somehow didn't get bumped). The captain decides to bench me for the deciding final match. The guy who is replacing me has a losing 4.0 league record. That exactly wasn't a shot in the arm for my confidence.

Should I just stop playing matches and practice for awhile? Anybody have a long stretch of bad tennis and get out of it?

Maybe you're going through a development phase (like a snake shedding its skin) where your game slips a little for some time only to make a permanent improvement. I know sometimes my performance slips for a long period of time and then suddenly I hit new levels never before seen. It usually happens with indivdiual strokes, and not my overall game but maybe it works both ways.

Kick_It
02-01-2009, 12:38 PM
I think you've got a couple things going on at the same time. IMO you've got to deal with one at a time - not muddle the two together:

1) You were recently injured - serious enough to take time off.

If I were you - I'd focus solely on rehab (have you gone to a PT and done their whole program - such that you're fully recovered? e.g., range of motion, strength in both legs are the same, balance, et al?)

I can say from experience that it took me about a year to fully recover from a grade 2 ankle sprain to the point that it didn't affect my tennis - when I was age 37. I'll add that I was stupid to initially not do PT as advised and started to play after about 6 weeks in a brace; in hindsight a bad decision.

I don't know how bad your sprain was - what did your doctor say? Age is also a factor in recovery. If you're 19 - probably not an issue. If you're over 35 - it will take a while.

2) (if i remember from earlier/other threads) You were recently bumped up a level in NTRP ratings.

Even if you're 100% physically - dealing with this situation is tough.


I can kinda relate to your situation; I sprained my ankle the day before a tournament I was really looking forward to; I'd seriously improved over the prior 5 months, and was eager to get results with my new skillz. I'll admit that's why I rushed into playing another tournament 8 weeks after my injury w/o PT (worst decision ever).

IMO - focus on recovering from your injury to the point that a PT say's you've nailed it and are 100% recovered. Gradually ramp up your tennis through that time. Don't presume you are as good as you were before you were injured. The hard truth is you probably aren't; focus on getting back to that point - and take your time to do it. Don't let time pressure you in that. It's going to happen when you're ready. I can say from experience it's going to happen when it happens - not on a schedule you arbitrarily set.

goober
02-01-2009, 01:24 PM
Goober, have you been able to pin down the reasons why these guys are beating you? What is it that they are doing to win the points? Is it your shot selection, are you hitting too many errors, is your fitness up to par, etc, etc?

It is not unreasonable to lose some 'game' while you are out with an injury. You can't necessarily expect to be back where you were when you stopped, though I'm sure you are frustrated to not be back there by now.

My best idea is to try to do some match analysis, figure out what is the 'hole' in your game right now, and work to patch that up.

Good luck...let us know how it goes!
Fitness could be a problem but I don't think it is that much worse than before. The people I have talked to who played me said that my consistency is not as good as before and my shots don't have that much on them. It also seems like my anticipation is bad and I am caught out of position too often.

goober
02-01-2009, 01:29 PM
Maybe you're going through a development phase (like a snake shedding its skin) where your game slips a little for some time only to make a permanent improvement. I know sometimes my performance slips for a long period of time and then suddenly I hit new levels never before seen. It usually happens with indivdiual strokes, and not my overall game but maybe it works both ways.

I don't feel like I am in a development phase because I am not really trying to change anything. I feel like I regressed to my level of play about a 1-2 years ago. Anyways I found a 4.5 team that has taken me pretty much sight unseen. We know a lot people in common, but I actually haven't met the captain-lol. Well it was either this or nothing. I probably won't get to play too much but hopefully I can get some practice time in with them.

Topaz
02-01-2009, 01:38 PM
Fitness could be a problem but I don't think it is that much worse than before. The people I have talked to who played me said that my consistency is not as good as before and my shots don't have that much on them. It also seems like my anticipation is bad and I am caught out of position too often.

Well, I think those are all probably because of your time off, and they will come back as you keep playing. Don't lose the faith!!! ;)

Julieta
02-01-2009, 02:49 PM
Should I just stop playing matches and practice for awhile? Anybody have a long stretch of bad tennis and get out of it?

I'd keep playing but you could also step up your practices if you think there is something that you're not executing properly. It could be that your first step is a little slow from the injury and so your timing is just that bit off. However, slumps are a normal part of tennis life. Everyone has them! Part of the problem is that if you live in a warm place, you might play year round so you don't really get an off season. So you're going to have times during the year when its not going so well and other times when your performance levels peak.

If you're working on something its easier because it feels like there is a reason for the uneven performances. But if you're not, it could just be a slump that will eventually pass. Just try not to break too many racquets in the meantime!

Going back to the seasonal aspect, in college tennis for example, you can see some strange results depending upon how much the players play in the summer. Some peak when the dual matches start but are toasted by the end of the season. Some players take time off in the summer and are refreshed by the start of the season. It can be really hard to time that peak.

hotseat
02-01-2009, 07:34 PM
which team are you on? i probably know you/of you

goober
02-01-2009, 08:44 PM
which team are you on? i probably know you/of you

Yeah you have heard of me I am sure because we know people in common- although we never actually had talked to each other. I already figured out who you are from prior comments. It is probably better if I am careful what I say since I know others in the area read this board and know who I am. I guess it is not any secret that I am playing like crap to the people I play with.

But if I tell you the team name publicly on this forum than anybody reading this could figure out who I am. Plus you could probably figure out who I am just from the info I gave out if you know all the teams in the area. I'll say hi to you next time I run into you. I may be looking for a team for next fall season if I get ESR'd down to 4.0 so I may be contacting you anyways:)

cak
02-01-2009, 08:51 PM
I broke my fibula, or actually, the car that hit me broke my fibula, and sprained my wrist pretty badly in November. Now, a broken fibula isn't anywhere near as hard to heal as a bad ankle sprain, but what I found is the wrist was healing much slower when I couldn't get in position because I couldn't push off on my left leg. Once I strengthen the leg enough through PT to be able to push off I found it was easier to heal my wrist, because I was getting into position to hit the shots. I suspect your problem isn't your strokes as much as it really is being able to move your feet as fast as you used to which enabled you to take the swing you wanted to take as opposed to the shot you can take without being in the best position. Your game will come back when your ankle fully comes back.

hotseat
02-02-2009, 09:12 AM
Yeah you have heard of me I am sure because we know people in common- although we never actually had talked to each other. I already figured out who you are from prior comments. It is probably better if I am careful what I say since I know others in the area read this board and know who I am. I guess it is not any secret that I am playing like crap to the people I play with.

But if I tell you the team name publicly on this forum than anybody reading this could figure out who I am. Plus you could probably figure out who I am just from the info I gave out if you know all the teams in the area. I'll say hi to you next time I run into you. I may be looking for a team for next fall season if I get ESR'd down to 4.0 so I may be contacting you anyways:)

oh, lame...so you're 4.5 right now? i was getting all excited because we're trying to get a few more guys for this session haha. still have no idea who you are though haha! i'll shoot you a private message. our team is pretty solid, i'm one of the worst players on the team, but everyone is really nice/cool. most fun i've had on a team yet!

heftylefty
02-02-2009, 09:36 AM
goober, I feel you because I am going through the same thing. I wrecked my right ankle in mid Sept. Before that I was playing some of the best tennis I have played in a long time and was looking forward to play some usta event in the 40's.

I was off for about 6 weeks before I stepped on the court and it's been a struggle to find my form. I also wear brace on both ankle and I have to force myself to get over the fear of exploring to the ball.

My goal is to still play tourneys but lower my expectations.

I love playing tennis. I didn't play jrs and on my best days I a mid 4.5 players, but the funk you are going through, I have been there and still there in some part. But I am not going to worry about the wins/loses and just enjoy working hard on the court.

OrangePower
02-03-2009, 11:16 AM
Fitness could be a problem but I don't think it is that much worse than before. The people I have talked to who played me said that my consistency is not as good as before and my shots don't have that much on them. It also seems like my anticipation is bad and I am caught out of position too often.

Given the context of your injury, and the observation above, it sounds like your footwork may not be back to what it was before. Small lapses in footwork can be subtle and hard to self-diagnose, but would impact your timing and anticipation, and in turn your consistency and power.

Don't be discouraged, give it a bit more time, do some footwork drills, and you'll get back to full force. If it makes you feel any better, I went through some similar issues after coming back from a ruptured Achilles and it took a (frustratingly long) while to get my timing and anticipation back. But it all came back eventually...

hotseat
02-03-2009, 05:45 PM
goober i sent you an email, hit me back sometime when you get a chance!

goober
02-03-2009, 09:00 PM
goober i sent you an email, hit me back sometime when you get a chance!

hmm I already did JS! Check your email!

*edit resent it again to your updated address. Originally I just hit reply but you have a new address, your TW listed address is asu.edu

DANMAN
02-05-2009, 09:30 AM
I didn't have time to read all of the posts but given my current situation (no injury but serious lack of time to play tennis), I understand a funk. I am a 5.0 and a lack of court time can really show when playing the 5.0 and 5.5 guys I play. My solution, which works for me, is to make sure that I'm having fun out on the court. I may not be moving as well as I like or hitting it as cleanly as I'd like, but when I'm having fun out there, everything seems to get better on its own. I hope you are having fun because as long as we aren't making our living on the court, a loss doesn't mean that much. This was a long overdue realization after plenty of training and several broken rackets. Hope it helps.

skiracer55
02-05-2009, 10:04 AM
...just kidding! However, you might want to consider getting off the court entirely for a while and doing something else, like biking or running or something. I don't play at all in the winter, I ski race, so when I come back in the spring I'm ready to go, my head is clear of whatever was bugging me last season, and I can sort of start from ground zero and rebuild my strokes and game instead of trying to fix something that's broken. As we used to say when I was teaching skiing full time, "You learn to ski in the summer, you learn to play tennis in the winter."

I also had a bunch of years where my drunken ski bum buddy from Summit County and I played a lot of Zen tennis...just hitting lots of balls and running around like crazy for hours, with frequent beer stops. No points, no games, just hitting lots of balls for the fun of it. Remember? It is a game, after all, and it is supposed to be fun.

Another thing you can do is change something about your tennis routine. As in, stop playing NTRP for a while, especially leagues, and play some age groups and Men's Open events. IMHO, you'll learn a lot more and also progress a lot faster if you go out and get spanked in a few Men's Open events instead of grinding away agains the same guys in an NTRP league. Along those lines, try changing something else, as in your racket or your string job or even your shoes. A new whatever isn't of itself going to make you better, but it will make you change, and if you want to get back to you or better yet, get better, you have to change something. Remember, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results...

Topaz
02-05-2009, 10:43 AM
^^^Excellent post! Thank you!