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View Full Version : Having trouble getting into grove - need help


MHE
07-23-2009, 11:45 AM
I often find myself having trouble to get into the grove in a match. Typically it happens after a long and stressful day at work, and juggled a few things at home I finally made it to the court.

However, I cannot get into the rhythm! I find myself not focused, slow to react, out of balance, late on shot and missing makeable shot everywhere.
I have tried to start the match slowly, and used the “ball-bounce-hit” technique to force myself to focus and get prepared in a balanced position early. It works some times to some degree; usually it is deep into the match before I can finally find my range and that is often too late.

Have you experienced the same thing? Do you have suggestions/ tricks to get into the rhythm/grove quickly in match? Please share.

skiracer55
07-23-2009, 12:01 PM
I often find myself having trouble to get into the grove in a match. Typically it happens after a long and stressful day at work, and juggled a few things at home I finally made it to the court.

However, I cannot get into the rhythm! I find myself not focused, slow to react, out of balance, late on shot and missing makeable shot everywhere.
I have tried to start the match slowly, and used the “ball-bounce-hit” technique to force myself to focus and get prepared in a balanced position early. It works some times to some degree; usually it is deep into the match before I can finally find my range and that is often too late.

Have you experienced the same thing? Do you have suggestions/ tricks to get into the rhythm/grove quickly in match? Please share.

...but I will say that when I play a tournament match, I always make sure to hit at least a half hour to 45 minutes with a hitting partner before the match. We get warmed up, go through all the strokes, clean up anything that isn't working, definitely work on serves and returns a little, maybe play a few points.

Okay, it sounds like you don't have the opportunity to warm up/tune up before your matches. Guess what? That happens to a lot of us. I'm telling you what the ideal is, I've had matches where I got held up in traffic, got there just in time, and had to walk right on the court.

In this situation, what do you do? I focus on three things, pretty much in this order:

(1) Getting my feet moving and getting warmed up. I force myself to move more than I think I have to so I do get warmed up, I have a better chance of being in balance, and I have a better chance of contacting the ball in my ideal hitting zone. It's much more important that you get yourself going, moving athletically, than worrying about hitting perfect strokes from the get-go. In this regard, number two is...

(2) Get lots of balls back. My game is quick poiints...serve and volley, chip and charge. If I'm warmed up, moving, and hitting my shots cleanly, I can play short points from the get-go. If not, I stay on the baseline, hit lots of balls deep in the court, high over the net with lots of top, and probably straight down the middle of the court until I get a clean feel for my strokes. Next, I....

(3) Try to find my rhythm. Rhythm, to me, is connecting one shot to the next to structure points to the outcome you want, which is either an error on your opponent's part or a winner on your part. Once I know I can hit a bunch of balls in succession down the middle and through the court, I then start working into shot combinations. One of my best combinations, for example, is deep, heavy forehand crosscourt, followed by a short, wide backhand slice, which I follow into the net, looking for an easy forehand volley crosscourt. If I can pull off a few of those, now I know I have my rhythm and I can go full tilt. But it's a progression. I'm not going to try for any complex point structuring until I know I can get a bunch of balls in the court, and I know I won't be able to get lots of balls in the court unless I get my butt in gear early on and get moving well and warmed up.

The advantage of this approach is that even though you may not start off at #3, which is the desired state, you not only progress toward it, but you do so in a way that gets you into the match without losing a string of points on stupid errors. If I start a match and see somebody on the other side of the net who's willing to run down every ball and do something intelligent with each shot, even if it's just finding the court, as opposed to spraying balls all over the place...well, I know I've got a match on my hands...

FloridaAG
07-23-2009, 12:19 PM
Good suggestions. I have been struggling to start in night league matches in my 4.5 league and am getting blown off the court in the first sets. Always happening after work with no out-of-match warm-up.

skiracer55
07-23-2009, 12:33 PM
Good suggestions. I have been struggling to start in night league matches in my 4.5 league and am getting blown off the court in the first sets. Always happening after work with no out-of-match warm-up.


...none of us is at his best in these situations, including Yours Truly. Give my suggestions a try, and if they don't work, I'll cheerfully refund your money! I'll add some conceptual thoughts:

- As my signature says (and one of Billie Jean King's coaches said) "Watch the ball, hit it hard, and don't think." You can think about strategy between points, as in "30-30, time for the wide serve for the forehand, wade in to that side and look for the backhand volley cross court", but once the point starts...well, watch the ball, hit it hard, and don't think.

A corollary to this is something my coach told me last summer, which is "tennis is serial, so you play it one point at a time. The last point is over, for good or for bad. Either way, learn from it, but look ahead to the next point, because it's the only one that counts."

- As my coach also said "Don't think your way through a match, play your way through a match." This is also a corollary of the above. It's real easy to get mesmerized with the score so that you're not moving and hitting the ball any more, or if you are, you've got this constant mental stream going on that's telling you to move your feet, get the racket back, and so forth. Once you've got yourself set for the next point, turn the mind off and let the body do its thing. It's a game, not a chess match, so play it.

- As another of my coaches said "Play the ball, not your opponent." Who cares if the guy across the net is supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread? Just play the ball, not him. Remember: "Watch the ball, hit it hard, and don't think"...Another way of looking at this, as my coach said is that to win a tennis match, you have to do three things: (1) Do your best, (2) Believe in yourself, and (3) Find some way to have fun in every match.

I'm especially keen on #3...it's supposed to be a game, not a firing squad, remember?

MHE
07-23-2009, 12:42 PM
...

(1) Getting my feet moving and getting warmed up. I force myself to move more than I think I have to so I do get warmed up, I have a better chance of being in balance, and I have a better chance of contacting the ball in my ideal hitting zone. It's much more important that you get yourself going, moving athletically, than worrying about hitting perfect strokes from the get-go. In this regard, number two is...

(2) Get lots of balls back. My game is quick poiints...serve and volley, chip and charge. If I'm warmed up, moving, and hitting my shots cleanly, I can play short points from the get-go. If not, I stay on the baseline, hit lots of balls deep in the court, high over the net with lots of top, and probably straight down the middle of the court until I get a clean feel for my strokes. Next, I....

(3) Try to find my rhythm. Rhythm, to me, is connecting one shot to the next to structure points to the outcome you want, which is either an error on your opponent's part or a winner on your part. Once I know I can hit a bunch of balls in succession down the middle and through the court, I then start working into shot combinations. One of my best combinations, for example, is deep, heavy forehand crosscourt, followed by a short, wide backhand slice, which I follow into the net, looking for an easy forehand volley crosscourt. If I can pull off a few of those, now I know I have my rhythm and I can go full tilt. But it's a progression. I'm not going to try for any complex point structuring until I know I can get a bunch of balls in the court, and I know I won't be able to get lots of balls in the court unless I get my butt in gear early on and get moving well and warmed up.




Thanks Skiracer55. That's makes a lot of sense.

Warming up with a partner for 45 minutes is a luxury for us who work in the day and play in the evenings. But I will definitely try your 1-2-3 approach. Maybe a few minutes rope jumping before I leave the house - if it not a long drive to the court.

FloridaAG
07-23-2009, 12:45 PM
Good points - I have been trying the movement one especially - I know I need to get my butt in gear, do my best to warm up as hard as possible etc., still struggling. Gonna keep working on it - getting from the stress of the office right into matches has been a challenge for sure. At 4.0, it did not matter and was able to deal with it, much harder at this level. Anyway, gonna do my best and try to have fun, it is a voluntary activity after all.

skiracer55
07-24-2009, 07:47 AM
Thanks Skiracer55. That's makes a lot of sense.

Warming up with a partner for 45 minutes is a luxury for us who work in the day and play in the evenings. But I will definitely try your 1-2-3 approach. Maybe a few minutes rope jumping before I leave the house - if it not a long drive to the court.

...one of my former doubles partners swears by the jump rope routine, and he's always warmed up and ready to go by the first point...

skiracer55
07-24-2009, 07:57 AM
Good points - I have been trying the movement one especially - I know I need to get my butt in gear, do my best to warm up as hard as possible etc., still struggling. Gonna keep working on it - getting from the stress of the office right into matches has been a challenge for sure. At 4.0, it did not matter and was able to deal with it, much harder at this level. Anyway, gonna do my best and try to have fun, it is a voluntary activity after all.

...but you can do it. On my better days, I'm probably a 5.0 plus, on my worst days (which are all too frequent), I can't hit a fat bull in the rear end with shovel. And the thing is, as you've discovered, at 4.5, it's not a good idea to have a bad day. I don't play NTRP, I'm 61, and have been playing tennis for about a bazillion years, so when I play a tournament, I want the most challenging matches possible, so I play down in age groups (Men's 45, Men's 50), and also Men's Open. I don't win a lot, but I usually play really well because there's no question about what I have to do, which is move well, use intelligent tactics, and hit a lot of well-struck balls in the court. You might want to try doing the same sort of thing, because playing "up" like this might help you break through the "4.5 barrier".

The other thing...well, I love coaching, so here I go. Talk about your game a little bit, and your recent results. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What type of player are you (baseliner, S&Ver, all courter, variations of the above)? In your recent matches, win or lose, what goes well/not so well? What kind of patterns do you see in the point/game flow? For example, get down 0-3 and then start firing on all cylinders and have to try to haul the other guy back in. Or, can get to 3-3, but have problems closing out a set. And so forth...