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View Full Version : How much do you guys think about technique when you play?


morten
02-03-2009, 02:23 PM
hard to describe but technique as in body positioning, staying low, staying balanced.. whatever,... I play better as i focus on that even in matches! When i don`t (just aim at where the ball will go) i become lazy and my strokes suffer and i am spraying balls all over, but if i try to look "good/stylish" ha ha i hit so much better.. Any views?

Geezer Guy
02-03-2009, 04:04 PM
When I'm playing well and winning I don't think about much of anything at all.
When I'm playing well and losing I think about strategy and tactics.
If I'm hitting a particular shot poorly, I try to analyze my technique to determine and correct the problem.

oneguy21
02-03-2009, 04:09 PM
It's called procedural memory. You play without consciously thinking about your shots, balance, footwork, etc. too much.

naylor
02-03-2009, 04:33 PM
... making sure I move early and get to the right place at the right time in the right shape... then I let swing mechanics take care of themselves!

Sometimes, however, it works like golf and you have to play some shots with "the swing of the day" - topspin backhands work OK cross-court but you miss down the line, or whatever. If your movement is still good, you can either play for a different shot (say, slice down the line, but take it higher/earlier) or keep trying but giving yourself a higher margin for error. But if your movement is bad, it's difficult enough to play the right shot from the wrong position to stay in the game, never mind trying to hang on when some shots are also consistently misfiring.

Often, the chain of events is that your swing mechanics break down because your positioning is bad, and you try to play the right shot from the wrong position too many times.

LuckyR
02-03-2009, 04:44 PM
Optimally? Not one bit. Realistically? A small amount.

Alafter
02-03-2009, 07:27 PM
A lot. All the time. Even when I am off court, I am still going over in my head trying to understand the natural flow of tennis strokes.

BU-Tennis
02-03-2009, 08:02 PM
People think about it more than they know. What are you thinking about if you're not thinking about tennis? Losing, because that's what you're probably doing. Now we don't think about everything in a stroke because it happens too fast such as footowork, the actual movement of the racquet. But we think about getting low, which shot to hit, where to take the racquet back. Should I go for topspin? Well then I have to get lower than the ball. Its constant, we are always thinking.

When we let our minds stray we lose focus. Some say that they think about strategy or where to hit the ball, but all of that is directly related to the technique that you use. Usually, we think about something that we did wrong in the last rally, or if we hit a great shot, what we did that was especially well, and we try to either correct that or repeat it.

Bud
02-03-2009, 10:17 PM
Optimally? Not one bit. Realistically? A small amount.

Agreed. The reason for lots of (good and effective) practice is to teach your body what it feels like to hit correctly... so you don't have to think about your form while you're on court... with so many other things to worry about... like strategy.

Povl Carstensen
02-04-2009, 04:59 AM
The moment you are thinking so much that it distracts you from watching the ball untill you hit it, you are thinking too much. Happens to me all the time.

fuzz nation
02-04-2009, 07:30 AM
In a match, the only thing I try to actively fixate on is keeping my eye on the ball or I constantly lose track of it.

For a hitting session, I try to actively keep after something like completing my forehand backswing (one of my personal gremlins) so that I lock in on that feeling of being grooved. This is probably nothing more than generating an ingrained feel for the right mechanics. When it feels wrong in a match, I can usually pick up on it rather quickly and get back to thinking about managing my points.

If a certain shot starts breaking down, that usually takes some more troubleshooting. If my serve gets shaky for example, I need to take an extra second, especially if I'm tired, and use a more deliberate leg drive. Sometimes the best technique boost for me comes from not worrying about anything and just letting it fly!

LuckyR
02-04-2009, 08:22 AM
Agreed. The reason for lots of (good and effective) practice is to teach your body what it feels like to hit correctly... so you don't have to think about your form while you're on court... with so many other things to worry about... like strategy.

Yeah, sounds like the OP never heard of The Zone...

LeeD
02-04-2009, 08:52 AM
Because of my weak brain, I always have to think about technique and form on just about every match and practice.
Gotta concentrate to stand in and stay balanced forward on all my shots.
Gotta concentrate to watch the ball come off the opponents racket.
Gotta concentrate to balance hitting out with safer, more conservative shots.
Gotta concentrate to turn lots on high balls.
Always gotta concentrate to keep the service motion intact.
And that's just some of MY problems! The opponent likes to create a few of their own, so my mind is actually working a bit each time I go hit the ball.

Djokovicfan4life
02-04-2009, 09:07 AM
hard to describe but technique as in body positioning, staying low, staying balanced.. whatever,... I play better as i focus on that even in matches! When i don`t (just aim at where the ball will go) i become lazy and my strokes suffer and i am spraying balls all over, but if i try to look "good/stylish" ha ha i hit so much better.. Any views?

When I'm playing well and winning I don't think about much of anything at all.
When I'm playing well and losing I think about strategy and tactics.
If I'm hitting a particular shot poorly, I try to analyze my technique to determine and correct the problem.

It's called procedural memory. You play without consciously thinking about your shots, balance, footwork, etc. too much.

... making sure I move early and get to the right place at the right time in the right shape... then I let swing mechanics take care of themselves!

Sometimes, however, it works like golf and you have to play some shots with "the swing of the day" - topspin backhands work OK cross-court but you miss down the line, or whatever. If your movement is still good, you can either play for a different shot (say, slice down the line, but take it higher/earlier) or keep trying but giving yourself a higher margin for error. But if your movement is bad, it's difficult enough to play the right shot from the wrong position to stay in the game, never mind trying to hang on when some shots are also consistently misfiring.

Often, the chain of events is that your swing mechanics break down because your positioning is bad, and you try to play the right shot from the wrong position too many times.

Optimally? Not one bit. Realistically? A small amount.

A lot. All the time. Even when I am off court, I am still going over in my head trying to understand the natural flow of tennis strokes.

People think about it more than they know. What are you thinking about if you're not thinking about tennis? Losing, because that's what you're probably doing. Now we don't think about everything in a stroke because it happens too fast such as footowork, the actual movement of the racquet. But we think about getting low, which shot to hit, where to take the racquet back. Should I go for topspin? Well then I have to get lower than the ball. Its constant, we are always thinking.

When we let our minds stray we lose focus. Some say that they think about strategy or where to hit the ball, but all of that is directly related to the technique that you use. Usually, we think about something that we did wrong in the last rally, or if we hit a great shot, what we did that was especially well, and we try to either correct that or repeat it.

Agreed. The reason for lots of (good and effective) practice is to teach your body what it feels like to hit correctly... so you don't have to think about your form while you're on court... with so many other things to worry about... like strategy.

The moment you are thinking so much that it distracts you from watching the ball untill you hit it, you are thinking too much. Happens to me all the time.

In a match, the only thing I try to actively fixate on is keeping my eye on the ball or I constantly lose track of it.

For a hitting session, I try to actively keep after something like completing my forehand backswing (one of my personal gremlins) so that I lock in on that feeling of being grooved. This is probably nothing more than generating an ingrained feel for the right mechanics. When it feels wrong in a match, I can usually pick up on it rather quickly and get back to thinking about managing my points.

If a certain shot starts breaking down, that usually takes some more troubleshooting. If my serve gets shaky for example, I need to take an extra second, especially if I'm tired, and use a more deliberate leg drive. Sometimes the best technique boost for me comes from not worrying about anything and just letting it fly!

Because of my weak brain, I always have to think about technique and form on just about every match and practice.
Gotta concentrate to stand in and stay balanced forward on all my shots.
Gotta concentrate to watch the ball come off the opponents racket.
Gotta concentrate to balance hitting out with safer, more conservative shots.
Gotta concentrate to turn lots on high balls.
Always gotta concentrate to keep the service motion intact.
And that's just some of MY problems! The opponent likes to create a few of their own, so my mind is actually working a bit each time I go hit the ball.

All excellent points, every last one of them. I just have one word to add to this discussion: REPETITION.

P.S. Another thing you can do if you find that your technique is not flowing naturally is assess your weaknesses and then write them down on a sheet of paper. The next time you step on the practice courts, work on those very things rather than the aspects you already feel comfortable with. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, "if you die and then I shoot you, you're already dead. You can't over-die, you can't over-dry".

So work on the techniques that you feel are the weakest in your game instead of simply "over-drying" the ones that you already know for the sake of feeling good about yourself.

Matt

morten
02-04-2009, 09:45 AM
Yeah, sounds like the OP never heard of The Zone...

I have been in the Zone many times... Thing is that this state of mind is not so reliable.. One can not automatically be in "The Zone" always..... or count on it, also i think to improve one need to focus on more and more things, maybe not during a match but still. I really enjoy it :)

LuckyR
02-04-2009, 10:40 AM
I have been in the Zone many times... Thing is that this state of mind is not so reliable.. One can not automatically be in "The Zone" always..... or count on it, also i think to improve one need to focus on more and more things, maybe not during a match but still. I really enjoy it :)


You are completely accurate, of course. The Zone is unpredictable. However, I have had the best luck when trying to NOT think of my game (the definition of the Zone) by actively thinking about something neutral, like footwork or tactics.

Mountain Ghost
02-04-2009, 10:44 AM
If you’re a pro, probably none. If you’re anything less than a pro, you should probably always be thinking about some aspect of your technique. However, due to the massive database of intelligent-sounding information available these days, the key is to know which pieces of that technical knowledge to focus on, when to focus on them and how to “splinter off” that part of your attention without losing your balanced awareness of the overall process. The most basic example of this would be to visualize EXACTLY where your racquet head is at the back of your backswing while your eyes are “fixed” on the ball.

Limit your technical thoughts to one item (max two) at a time for any stroke or situation and try to keep part of your mind on it consistently . . . EVEN WHEN YOU’RE IN THE ZONE. Not only will this help you to become more aware of your successful process, but it will prevent your brain from unconsciously turning on and off.

It’s amazing how many players stop thinking (i.e. get “stupid”) when things are going well. The more they enjoy the glory, the less they are able to duplicate it.

MG

Tomek_tennis
02-04-2009, 11:48 AM
None or close to none. When I practice techniqe - that's the time for it.

habib
02-04-2009, 04:28 PM
hard to describe but technique as in body positioning, staying low, staying balanced.. whatever,... I play better as i focus on that even in matches! When i don`t (just aim at where the ball will go) i become lazy and my strokes suffer and i am spraying balls all over, but if i try to look "good/stylish" ha ha i hit so much better.. Any views?

Not too much, anymore. It used to be, when I was a worse player, that I would think about my technique on nearly every shot. "Ok take your racquet back, ok get low, push with your legs..." etc... Now if I'm thinking anything as I'm hitting the ball, it's more like, "Ok, I want to hit X shot therefore my racquet will start out X distance below the ball/at ball level/above the ball." In other words, I'm thinking about the ball I'm trying to hit, not how I'm going about doing it.

wihamilton
02-04-2009, 04:38 PM
hard to describe but technique as in body positioning, staying low, staying balanced.. whatever,... I play better as i focus on that even in matches! When i don`t (just aim at where the ball will go) i become lazy and my strokes suffer and i am spraying balls all over, but if i try to look "good/stylish" ha ha i hit so much better.. Any views?

Ideally you want to focus on strategy. What are you opponent's weaknesses. How can you best exploit them?

Working on technique during a match is a big no no, imo. That's what practice is for.

LanEvo
02-04-2009, 04:43 PM
i could care less, because as long as i can hit winners and keep the ball in, i know 100% im doing just fine

MTXR
02-04-2009, 06:17 PM
when i am changing something then i am thinking of it actively while i am hitting the ball...

after i have it changed i don't think about it at all... grip changes are the most problematic for me to change..

Tennisman912
02-04-2009, 06:28 PM
I don’t think much at all about technique during a match. It just sort of happens with little conscious thought on my part. I compare it to skiing bumps. You don’t think about the bump in front of you that you are about to hit, you are thinking three moves or bumps ahead. If you fixate on the one in front of you only, you will be face planting because you will be quickly behind the curve. It just sort of flows on its own. The same thing happens on the court.

With enough experience, you sort of clear your mind and on a subconscious level you automatically do what you are supposed to do (at least most of the time). For example, in a doubles match where your partner hits a good low return, you don’t think that maybe I should poach now (or it is way too late), you are automatically moving to cover the probable weak reply to have an easy put away. Or after you hit a weak passing shot, you are automatically moving to cover cross court because as soon as the ball left your racquet you knew your weak shot would be pummeled and where it will probably be hit. Of course, even knowing where it is going (or probably going) you may only get it back 20 or 30% of the time if you are lucky, because their shot will be too strong to do much. It is a bit hard to explain but I think you understand what I mean. This type of reaction for any situation comes with lots of experience.

I will pay attention to ball tosses on the serve and general tactics about how best to hurt an opponent. Do they adjust their toss slightly for a kick or a slice serve? Do they always slice that big kicker to the backhand and come over the slice serve? Stuff like that. You can pick up a lot with just careful observation.

Good tennis

TM

foLster
02-04-2009, 06:31 PM
I try to just hit the ball when in a match with someone. When I'm rallying for fun/warming up I'll think about what I need to do, how to improve etc.

Kick_It
02-04-2009, 06:42 PM
I primarily think about two things:

1) Where do I want to hit the ball. (Primarily strategy and/or tactics)

2) Where is my opponent hitting the ball to - so I can get into position for it.

If I'm thinking about technique - that usually indicates something isn't working the way it should (aka I'm in trouble).

dmastous
02-04-2009, 07:06 PM
This is why you drill. You think about technique when you drill so you don't have to while you play.
The only time I'm thinking about technique is when my shots are off. Otherwise it's fire at will.

Alafter
02-05-2009, 01:10 AM
Here's me hoping that muscle memory will respond to incomings in matches automatically.

halalula1234
02-05-2009, 01:22 AM
yes i always focus on my technique on every shot possible. Since i dont have such power like those 6 ft guys i have to use techniques and placement to win the game.

Enzo
02-05-2009, 03:15 AM
When I start to think about technique I end up altering my shots, and thats when I fail.

Nellie
02-06-2009, 05:54 AM
I think of technique everytime I miss a shot. If the shots are going in, I could care less.

CoachingMastery
02-06-2009, 06:12 AM
I think of technique everytime I miss a shot. If the shots are going in, I could care less.


This is common among recreational and club players: miss a shot and assume there was something wrong with the stroke. However, many times, a shot is missed and they simply aimed wrong or miss-timed the shot.

Players need to recognize when there is indeed a breakdown in a stroke component and when they simply missed the shot because of timing or aim.

In reality, skilled players, those who have mastered skilled technique (or, as I mentioned in another thread, "Unconscious Competence"), in the heat of competition, such skilled players hardly think of technique. The best players think of two things, almost simultaneously when striking a ball:

1. The "image" of where they want the ball to go
2. The "effect" of what they want to apply to the ball. (spin, speed)

Most players, when they start thinking about "how" to hit the ball, they seldom hit well in match play. In fact, if you ever want to throw a player off their game when they are playing well, just say on the change over, "Hey Joe, you are really hitting your forehand perfect today. How are you doing that?"

They will usually start thinking about their stroke on the next forehand...and, as such, will miss!

Nellie
02-06-2009, 06:22 AM
They will usually start thinking about their stroke on the next forehand...and, as such, will miss!

Thanks Dave.

This pretty match summerizes my tennis.

By the way, let us know if you every start offering adult camps. My friends tell me that St. George is just beautiful.

CoachingMastery
02-06-2009, 06:34 AM
Thanks Dave.

This pretty match summerizes my tennis.

By the way, let us know if you every start offering adult camps. My friends tell me that St. George is just beautiful.

Thanks...we are working on building a new indoor/outdoor teaching facility here. And yes, St. George is a very pretty area! When we are operational, I'll make an announcement.

In the meantime, anytime you are passing through, I offer drop in programs at the facility I'm at now, along with a weekly drop in Sat. tournament that attracts players from all over.

Slicendicer
02-06-2009, 06:49 AM
I think it's bad to evaluate and "change' technique during a match, changing strategy is for sure. Be aware of what your doing poorly/well and try to correct it if possible. By all means do what you have to do to win.

After I miss an easy put away or flub an overhead, I make a mental note to stay down or move my feet, but always something positive. Bashing your tennis game on court will only cause detrimental effect. I don't get mad... ever, unless my opponant is "hooking" line calls. If I win or lose doesn't matter... I've done both at high level tennis, so I just want to challenge myself. I play the ball, not the opponant.

Yesterday was my 5th hitting session since recommitting myself to tennis. I played a strong 4.0 guy, and crushed him 0,0,2. By the 3rd set my legs were gone, but I needed to challenge myself to play through the exaustion. I missed alot of shots based on poor technique because I was fatigued. I didn't criticize, I pushed myself to try harder.

LuckyR
02-06-2009, 09:06 AM
This is common among recreational and club players: miss a shot and assume there was something wrong with the stroke. However, many times, a shot is missed and they simply aimed wrong or miss-timed the shot.

Players need to recognize when there is indeed a breakdown in a stroke component and when they simply missed the shot because of timing or aim.

In reality, skilled players, those who have mastered skilled technique (or, as I mentioned in another thread, "Unconscious Competence"), in the heat of competition, such skilled players hardly think of technique. The best players think of two things, almost simultaneously when striking a ball:

1. The "image" of where they want the ball to go
2. The "effect" of what they want to apply to the ball. (spin, speed)

Most players, when they start thinking about "how" to hit the ball, they seldom hit well in match play. In fact, if you ever want to throw a player off their game when they are playing well, just say on the change over, "Hey Joe, you are really hitting your forehand perfect today. How are you doing that?"

They will usually start thinking about their stroke on the next forehand...and, as such, will miss!


As usual this is spot on. However, I would put the quote at the end of the post into the category of gamesmanship, since it is every bit as effective as Dave says it will be. Personally, I sleep better at night saying: "Hey Joe, you are really hitting your forehand perfect today. I don't know how you can do that."

CoachingMastery
02-06-2009, 10:20 AM
As usual this is spot on. However, I would put the quote at the end of the post into the category of gamesmanship, since it is every bit as effective as Dave says it will be. Personally, I sleep better at night saying: "Hey Joe, you are really hitting your forehand perfect today. I don't know how you can do that."

You are correct in the "gamesmanship" issue. I mentioned this not to encourage the actual utilization of the psychological scheme, but to point out that when a player indeed starts thinking about their great shots, they tend to start missing. Your phrase is a better way to actually articulate the sentiment, in my opinion.