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Lotto
02-16-2009, 02:21 PM
I have a "story" I would like to share.

You see, in Ireland there's this "organisation" called the DLTC(Dublin Lawn Tennis Council) which is seperate to Tennis Ireland. And they run leagues for all the clubs in Leinster. They have a winter league which is going on at the minute where you have 6 on a team, 3 doubles pairings and you play other clubs in a group stage and the top 2 from each group gets through and there's 7 classes. Class 1 and 2 being 5.0-6.0 players and down and down. They also have the summer league where it's 7 on a team and there's 3 singles players and 2 doubles pairings, same format. etc.

Anyway, I was playing winter league for my club yesterday and we were playing away. I'm 16 and I was playing with my partner who is 15 (It's 14 and overs) Anyway, we were playing an ok guy in his 20's and a foreign lad who looked like he was in his 40's maybe. Anyway, I played UTTER SH*T. I actually embarassed myself aswell because I turned into a mini McEnroe on court and was throwing tantrums and my dad who's on the same team was playing on the court next to me and after he missed a first serve he told me to shut up and that I have no respect for the other players around me and the people I was playing. I was so embarassed because I'm a pretty nice and mannerly guy off court but on court tennis brings out the McEnroe in me :oops:

Anyway, we lost in two sets and I was so ****ed at how I played that I organised a singles match for 6 yesterday evening. The spring championships are coming up on thursday and seen as I ALWAYS CHOKE in National tournaments I decided I was gonna have to do something. So, after reading Jim Loehr's articles on Tennis Player I decided to try out his "techniques" I was breathing rhytmically and deeply, I had my rituals etc. Anyway, I decided that I was going out and was going to have fun. I always love coaching for some reason and that's because I just love to hit the ball, I could hit it for hours but I get ****ed off in match situations. So I told myself I was gonna have fun.

Anyway, we were knocking up and at the start I was hitting the ball badly but controlled myself and told myself to shut up when I nearly got annoyed in the knock up lol. Anyway, it improved and when the match started my opponent served first. I had my return ritual and amazingly, I was SOOOO FOCUSED. The ball was like my bit*h. I could do anything with it. My mind was in the here and now, focused on the ball. I lost the first game, oh well, then I went to serve.

I was breathing deeply, and doing my new ritual. I stepped up, picked where I was gonna go, and when I began bouncing the ball I could feel the "deep foucs" in me. Then I calmly hit a huge ace down the T bang in the corner of the service box. I repeated my ritual and then stepped up on the ad side and did the exact same thing!! I actually served so well that I was hitting the lines AT WILL when I was focused!! I went down 5-2 in the 1st set and that was because I kept missing groundstrokes long or wide, so I started "focusing" on them and I could do anything with them too and came back and ended up winning the match 7-6, 6-1. I was happy because I didn't curse once and I served amazingly well, hitting around 10 aces.

Tonight I was playing a mess doubles match and I wasn't as good in the warm up as last night, I was sloppy and my timing was off. Anyway, my 1st service game, did my ritual, stepped up, missed the first serve but then hit a wide slice topspin ace. I then stepped up and hit a down the T ace. I think I hit around 2-3 more aces in the match but my game wasn't as good as last nights. Doubles is always more difficult though I feel to keep that focus.

Anyway, I'm playing a singles match tomorrow night and plan to use my routine and see how it goes.

The thing is, does ANYONE know HOW I can do this all of the time. Go out on the court, have this incredible focus and looseness, playing for fun and when you play for fun it automatically takes the pressure off of you and how to keep this focus. Because if I can serve on thursday in the National Spring Championships (one of the "Big 5" tournaments here) then it would be amazing.

What should I do before a match to prepare like I did? How do I keep the focus up or even get the focus to begin with?

Tips? Please? I desperately need it for thursday. I'm determined not to choke aswell :D

Thanks.

SystemicAnomaly
02-16-2009, 05:26 PM
A good night of sleep is of utmost importance for eliciting the kind of performance that you desire on a consistent basis. Breathing exercises and meditation can help quite bit too.

I find that 10-20 minutes of cardio before heading out to the courts does wonders for achieving mental focus & a peak performance. To facilitate this I'll sometimes ingest 1/2 bottle (30 mL) of an energy shot product like 5-Hour Energy or 6 Hour Power prior to the cardio. Do you have any such products in your neck of the woods? Mind you, these are not your average energy drink.

fuzz nation
02-16-2009, 05:59 PM
Sounds to me like you're learning what your chronic distractions are and instead of freaking out with the Johnny Mac tribute, you're getting better at recognizing them. Now they're less relevant in your match because you can see that they don't help you play your best game - you see them coming and diffuse them now.

Ever heard of the fear of winning? It's a reality for lots of players including the pros and when it creeps in, many players typically "check out" with the ranting and raving that kills their games. If you've decided to be vigilant for those demons and stop them before they get in your kitchen, it could be that you've become a lot more comfortable with achieving the next level and dealing with the higher expectations that can come with it.

Keep going!

mg.dc
02-16-2009, 06:15 PM
I couldn't agree more: nothing's better than a good night's sleep.

I also think it extremely important to eat well. On the whole, I find that having a disciplined life -- nothing radical of course -- helps me to play tennis at my best.

Sleeping well, eating well, exercising, staying in good shape, reading, silence -- that is, not always having the TV or radio or cell phone on) -- all these things are beneficial in my opinion. Perhaps this sounds strange, but I even feel that living within your means, staying out of debt, being kind and polite to others, all these things too help the game.

One last thing, in the same vein as your realization of playing tennis to have fun: Learn to love tennis not just when everything's going your way: but also and equally, if possible, learn to love playing tennis when nothing is going your way: when you get beaten by a player you should have beaten. Learn to love tennis when you cannot find the zone, or rather, when your focus has left the court and gone home without you. In these times realize your humanity -- the fickleness of our minds -- and give your best in the spirit of good sportsmanship and respect for your opponent.

Jim A
02-16-2009, 06:37 PM
the mental side of the game is just as important as the physical, and also needs to be trained.

developing rituals and processes are a good start
during my youth I had a bit of the red ***** and would often follow a color progression in my head that went from darker to lighter to relieve stress, everyone is different

however visualization exercises help, 10min at night when its quiet and focusing on a couple different things such as everything going right, seeing how points will likely play out in your mind as well as identifying what can go wrong and how you may react to it all in the moment. That way if it happens in a match its not a surprise (ie. break a string returning a serve that was out on an important point)

sleep is still #1 with the list though, amazing at how deprived we are

recently i cut out caffeine and have been adding another 30min/night and man do i feel worked

overrotate
02-16-2009, 10:26 PM
I couldn't agree more: nothing's better than a good night's sleep.

I also think it extremely important to eat well. On the whole, I find that having a disciplined life -- nothing radical of course -- helps me to play tennis at my best.

Sleeping well, eating well, exercising, staying in good shape, reading, silence -- that is, not always having the TV or radio or cell phone on) -- all these things are beneficial in my opinion. Perhaps this sounds strange, but I even feel that living within your means, staying out of debt, being kind and polite to others, all these things too help the game.

One last thing, in the same vein as your realization of playing tennis to have fun: Learn to love tennis not just when everything's going your way: but also and equally, if possible, learn to love playing tennis when nothing is going your way: when you get beaten by a player you should have beaten. Learn to love tennis when you cannot find the zone, or rather, when your focus has left the court and gone home without you. In these times realize your humanity -- the fickleness of our minds -- and give your best in the spirit of good sportsmanship and respect for your opponent.

I vote best post of all time, seriously. Thank you for that, because I have never seen it that well said before. This is some of the best advice for the gift we've been given of playing this game, you sir may have brought a tear to my eye. :)

Great advice-enjoy doing what you do no matter what is going on, don't let anything get in the way of doing what you are there to do, to have some fun. That really allows you to let everything flow like nothing else.

Get out there, let it flow, and have some fun!

Lotto
02-16-2009, 10:58 PM
Sounds to me like you're learning what your chronic distractions are and instead of freaking out with the Johnny Mac tribute, you're getting better at recognizing them. Now they're less relevant in your match because you can see that they don't help you play your best game - you see them coming and diffuse them now.

Ever heard of the fear of winning? It's a reality for lots of players including the pros and when it creeps in, many players typically "check out" with the ranting and raving that kills their games. If you've decided to be vigilant for those demons and stop them before they get in your kitchen, it could be that you've become a lot more comfortable with achieving the next level and dealing with the higher expectations that can come with it.

Keep going!


One weird thing is that sometimes when I am playing I am actually afraid of what I am capable of. Like the shots I am able to pull off, I know I can pull them off but it's like I don't want to for some reason. It's hard to explain. It's like I'm afraid of my own "potential" or "talent" It's weird. My coaches have said I'm pretty talented and that I have a good bit of natural ability but I seem to be afraid of this for whatever reason.

Thanks everyone for all your great posts. I'm amazed at how much sleep and diet plays a part. My diet is actually terrible! I don't want to bore you with it. I think I posted it ages ago but it's bad....and my sleeping patterns aren't great either. I'll see how the match goes tonight.