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firstserve
12-05-2009, 11:09 AM
Hi, I have been playing tennis since I was 3-4 years old. I am now 16 yrs old and have been playing tournaments since the age of 9. As of just recently I have started to get extremely nervous before and during matches. When I mean extremely nervous I come to a point where my arm stiffens up so much that it is incredibly difficult for me to swing. I never used to have this nervous tension in the younger divisions instead I had more of an exhiliration or adrenaline that was actually useful. I dont know where my anxiety as really come from whether having extreme financial hardships to a pt where I feel guilty if I don't win or perhaps my own harsh expectations. I have been told to take care of the process but i don't know how to do this. Im tired of hearing same old thing like breath in breath out or eat nutricious food or even doing warm ups and basic rituals like these. I do all of these things yet I still can't help myself from being tight. I have 4.5-5.0 abilities as far as my strokes but my mind has gotten in my way. Are there any specific rituals other than breathing and bouncing the ball that will help to appease my anxiety and tension?

fuzz nation
12-05-2009, 02:31 PM
I'm not a psychologist, but I do some high school coaching and you sound like you've got a significant problem going on. One or two of the kids on my teams in the past have had too much baggage in their heads to carry around on the courts when they'd play and the fun just goes out the window when that's the case. If you are honestly worried about yourself, you might want to see if someone can help you to sort it out. If it's simply a nuisance and you're otherwise doing okay, you might benefit from some reading.

Everyone has their own favorite books including Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert, but I've always been a fan of the wisdom of Vic Braden. He's the next best thing to an actual tennis comedian, but he is also a licenced psychologist as well as a long time tennis guru. I read his book, Mental Tennis, around when I started coaching and liked it so much that I read it again! One of my buds borrowed it and really liked it, too.

One good lesson I learned from that book was the importance of having expectations as a tennis player that are in touch with reality. There's a LOT going on there and I've been able to keep the kids as well as myself in a better frame of mind having reflected on this material. Braden also covers the importance of being selfish as a tennis player, but in a good way. Some players might worry too much about what others think of them or maybe feel too much pressure to please their parents with success on the courts. The happiest players are motivated by their own hunger for the game, but there are lots of ways that the happiness can get lost in the weeds. Great read!

firstserve
12-05-2009, 04:52 PM
Can I get Winning Ugly at my local library or is it just in book stores?

mikro112
12-05-2009, 04:55 PM
You can get it for 3 bucks via Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Ugly-Mental-Warfare-Tennis-Lessons/dp/067188400X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260064904&sr=8-1

firstserve
12-05-2009, 05:29 PM
Has anyone actually looked through or read Winning Ugly and if so how was it and can it not only help a player mentally but also tactically?

JongJong
12-05-2009, 05:35 PM
Yeah, I read winning ugly, but It probably wont really help you with your problem, It is only a book to help stratigize. You should read the inner game of tennis. Pretty deep stuff in there. and dont worry, I have the same feeling like you. What do I do? Just remeber its only for fun. You're not playing for money

firstserve
12-05-2009, 05:42 PM
I reflected on what has been going on lately in my game and I sort of had an epiphany. I thought that the reason I am having anxiety problems when I play matches is that when I come to the court I don't have much purpose. Im not saying that I come to matches not knowing what to do, but I don't have specific patterns on the court. Does anyone have any specif patterns that I can try to practice? First, I will test them during practice to see what suits my comfort level, then I will drill on the pattern so much that it becomes automatic.

salsainglesa
12-05-2009, 05:54 PM
The alexander technique
Meditation, samatha (concentration on a single object, wich can be your own breathing)
Psicotherapy

it seems to me that your expectations are getting in the way of performing naturally, this expectations come from within your most basic beliefs whether you are aware of them or not, and it translates into emotions and that has a physical manifestation in tension....

google this, seek help from capable people...

tenis is a mind game, life is a mental state.

Jagman
12-05-2009, 06:46 PM
Fuzz Nation's book recommendations are spot on. I have both Braden's Mental Tennis and Gilbert's Winning Ugly. They are extremely good reads, IMO, and should be a big help with sorting out the baggage in the way station of the mind.

Winning Ugly is especially entertaining for me, because I saw Gilbert play in his heyday. He was often painful to watch, but did a yeoman's job nevertheless. As a commentator, I can quickly get a little too much Gilbert on Gilbert, but his book is good (probably because it predates the emergence of Brad as a media sop). There are things to be gleaned from both texts if you have an open mind. FWIW, I didn't regard it as much a book on strategy as I did a book on mindset.

Gallway's Inner Game of Tennis is another good read. I'll readily second that notion.

For most of us, I would wager that tennis is an escape from our everyday problems. If tennis itself is a pressure cooker for you at your age, a little bit of guided introspection with a mentor (parent, teacher, coach, clergy, for example) is probably in order to help put things into perspective. I would respectfully suggest that, at a minimum, you do a good double-check to make sure that your expectations are realistic.

Nerves are an aspect of fear, and fear is completely natural. Fear should be embraced, because it indicates that you are alert and watchful when you need to be; that you are prepared to take action. It's a sign that you are very much alive and ready. Breathing and ritual are the enablers that take you from ready to go. These things do work, but you have to know how they fit into the overall puzzle. And you have to have faith, you have to believe in yourself.

You're a young adolescent, and dealing with fear, especially the mounting expectations of adulthood, is part of growing up. Since you are so heavily invested in tennis, both mentally and financially, it is not surprising that the associated anxieties would have an impact on your game.

My fifteen year old son is going through a similar trial right now. He was an accomplished tournament player at fourteen, with a number of appearances in the final and semi-final rounds. Upon being thrust into the Boys 16s, he suddenly found it difficult to just get through the initial rounds, let alone win a tournament. He's finally starting to find himself again, but only after surmounting an appreciable period of self-doubt and deprication. We have spent a lot to time talking through these issues, both in regard to tennis and life in general.

Tennis is just a game. Whether you win or lose is immaterial. What you take away from the experience and learn about yourself is the true value of sport. Where this will take you is for you to decide.

I'm not a psychologist either, just a parent. Parents come in all different flavors, but --- believe it or not --- we've all gone through this in one fashion or another. Just ask.;)

5263
12-05-2009, 06:55 PM
I'm not a psychologist, but I do some high school coaching and you sound like you've got a significant problem going on. One or two of the kids on my teams in the past have had too much baggage in their heads to carry around on the courts when they'd play and the fun just goes out the window when that's the case. If you are honestly worried about yourself, you might want to see if someone can help you to sort it out. If it's simply a nuisance and you're otherwise doing okay, you might benefit from some reading.

Everyone has their own favorite books including Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert, but I've always been a fan of the wisdom of Vic Braden. He's the next best thing to an actual tennis comedian, but he is also a licenced psychologist as well as a long time tennis guru. I read his book, Mental Tennis, around when I started coaching and liked it so much that I read it again! One of my buds borrowed it and really liked it, too.

One good lesson I learned from that book was the importance of having expectations as a tennis player that are in touch with reality. There's a LOT going on there and I've been able to keep the kids as well as myself in a better frame of mind having reflected on this material. Braden also covers the importance of being selfish as a tennis player, but in a good way. Some players might worry too much about what others think of them or maybe feel too much pressure to please their parents with success on the courts. The happiest players are motivated by their own hunger for the game, but there are lots of ways that the happiness can get lost in the weeds. Great read!

Good stuff here, but also remember what you are feeling is pretty normal with getting older, hormones, learning what is at stake, caring more about your results, etc.....
I went thru this with my son to an extent.
For some reason with you it is just spiraling more out of your control. I think realizing it is normal will help, and to learn to control your to the helpful things will help even more. If you are interested in learning more about what to focus on, I will be looking for your reply.
good luck!

firstserve
12-05-2009, 06:56 PM
Thanks for the comments. My parents have told me that it is ok to play tennis for fun and that my state of mind right now will not allow me to play competitively anymore. As soon as they said that it is ok to just play tennis for fun my heart sunk. While I feel the enormous pressure to perform and it takes a toll on me I just can't fathom not playing tournaments or competitively anymore. Infact, it scares me b/e I feel that I am actually talented and athletic and that everything including skill and years of hardwork would go to waste. It's almost like a part of me thrives on competition yet fears it. It's a complicated sensation. Nevertheless, I want to try to move on and continue to fight in the game of tennis to prove to myself that I can overcome obstacles. I think that what I'm really looking for is extreme techniques so that I can actually hit the ball and not push and also find rituals that will almost consume my mind with different thoughts yet keep me focused

5263
12-05-2009, 06:58 PM
we were posting at the same time. I hope you caught the one I posted right before yours came up.

firstserve
12-05-2009, 07:02 PM
Yes thanks so much for your wanting to help I realize that there is no easy and quick solution however you have to realize that it really has nothing to do with experience. Today I realized that when I go on the court I know what I'm doing however I don't have a meticulous or exact shot pattern that I can rely on. If this helps, I think I need some shot pattern suggestions that I can take to the court to practice and see for myself how they work

jazzyfunkybluesy
12-05-2009, 07:02 PM
deleted folks.

5263
12-05-2009, 07:09 PM
Yes thanks so much for your wanting to help I realize that there is no easy and quick solution however you have to realize that it really has nothing to do with experience. Today I realized that when I go on the court I know what I'm doing however I don't have a meticulous or exact shot pattern that I can rely on. If this helps, I think I need some shot pattern suggestions that I can take to the court to practice and see for myself how they work

Maybe you were addressing someone else, or how did my post relate to "experience"?

firstserve
12-05-2009, 08:27 PM
I know you never mentioned anything about experience but a lot of the time the only answer people have as far as development is to get more experience or more "practice matches"

user92626
12-05-2009, 09:05 PM
I have heard the book Winning Ugly mentioned so many times. Can someone care to share a few major points that the book advocates?

5263
12-06-2009, 04:52 AM
I have heard the book Winning Ugly mentioned so many times. Can someone care to share a few major points that the book advocates?

Been awhile since my read, but it was about being mentally tough and not having so much worry about how the strokes look, but what they DO. How to make it tough on the opponent and above all- Play such that he has to bring the goods and beat you to win-Don't beat yourself trying to play above your abilities.
Does that sound about right to other who have read it?

Jagman
12-06-2009, 05:56 AM
5263 described Winning Ugly in a nutshell. To flesh it out a little, I'll add that the book is divided into three parts, with each containing roughly half a dozen chapters. The parts are entitled: "The Early Edge, The Match Begins before the Match Begins"; "Playing Smart, Finding a Way to Win"; and "Mind Games, Psyching, and Gamesmanship".

Firstserve, you may find Chapter 5 of Part I enlightening, as it regards "Four Nervebusters, Overcoming Pre-Match Nervousness".

The full book is actually entitled Winning Ugly, Mental Warfare in Tennis - Lessons from a Master. The book is co-authored by Steve Jamison, which probably explains why, IMO, it is so well written.

Firstserve, if you're looking for rituals to adopt, everybody has them to some degree. Some serve a purpose and others feed superstitions. I find that's where personal stories from players about their games are fascinating and informative. Good things to pick up there, as well as some to avoid.

An outstanding source of patterns of play is Wardlaw's Directionals. Originally an article written by Coach Paul Wardlaw, it is reprinted in Kriese's Coaching Tennis and cited countless times in others. I'm not sure, but I believe you can find the article online if you google it. Sometimes the directionals can be a bit thick to read through, but this is considered by many to be the coaches' bible when it comes to basic, high percentage, tennis play. IIRC, the USTA has a book, Tennis Tactics that might be helpful, and then there is Dilfer's (?) book, Practice Games.

If you're looking for something basic to do on the practice court, simply strive to achieve a continuous rally of 50 balls. You should be able to do this without either player having to move around a lot. Similarly, try to achieve a like tally with one player at the net and the other on the baseline, hitting back and forth to one another without moving. Also, strive to feed lobs directly to your practice partner at net. This has nothing to do with tactics, or necessarily even technique, but rather, everything to do with consistency and control. FWIW, I think it also engrains in one a love for hitting the ball, and a secret desire to engage in extended rallies, as opposed to hoping the point will end soon or prematurely attempting winners. I also think its calming, as you actually look forward to hitting the next ball instead of worrying about mucking up the next shot.

Sounds to me like your parents have your best interests at heart. I would bet the proverbial kitchen sink that there is a lot of gold for you to mine out of those discussions. I hope you do your fair share of listening. Nothing easy about growing up. Nothing easy about being an adult. At least you have a guide.

FiveO
12-06-2009, 06:57 AM
Hi, I have been playing tennis since I was 3-4 years old. I am now 16 yrs old and have been playing tournaments since the age of 9. As of just recently I have started to get extremely nervous before and during matches. When I mean extremely nervous I come to a point where my arm stiffens up so much that it is incredibly difficult for me to swing. I never used to have this nervous tension in the younger divisions instead I had more of an exhiliration or adrenaline that was actually useful. I dont know where my anxiety as really come from whether having extreme financial hardships to a pt where I feel guilty if I don't win or perhaps my own harsh expectations. I have been told to take care of the process but i don't know how to do this. Im tired of hearing same old thing like breath in breath out or eat nutricious food or even doing warm ups and basic rituals like these. I do all of these things yet I still can't help myself from being tight. I have 4.5-5.0 abilities as far as my strokes but my mind has gotten in my way. Are there any specific rituals other than breathing and bouncing the ball that will help to appease my anxiety and tension?

Inner Tennis by Gallway is probably the most applicable to your symptoms. It's all about getting over the tendency of being overly distracted by self expectation and the "judgemental self". Once you get past the "zen" terms and embrace the underlying message it's easier to process and employ.

"Fearless Tennis" is an audio CD which echoes the conceptsof "Inner Tennis" and comes from the perspective of a fairly high level player

Wardlaw's Directionals described in the book "Pressure Tennis" and the video "High Percentage Tennis" are another excellent tool.

The commonality between the above is that they each encourage a player to "get lost in the process" and not allowing oneself to be distracted by the result, what a miss or a loss will mean, etc.

Like most other instructional tools they require the user to accept and employ the concepts and also like most other things they have their own learning curve and require practice. I've seen them all be a hit with some students and a miss with others but IMO the concepts are sound.



5

fuzz nation
12-06-2009, 06:57 AM
One of the best lessons from Gilbert's book confronts the essential issue of protecting your weaknesses, using your strengths well, and figuring out how to pick on an opponent. That's just the flip-side of the coin where you're attacking his weaknesses and avoiding his weapons. Almost makes me wonder if he tried to apply the principles of jiujitsu to tennis. It was a decent book, but I wouldn't say that it changed my life.

The Braden book sort of did, though. If I had read this book when I was back in my teens, my experience with tennis would have been profoundly different. Tactics on a tennis court aren't really rocket science, right? There are higher percentage options, defensive vs. offensive shots, and different plans of attack. Those might include simply hitting the ball away from your opponent so that he has to move more often (that will eventually create an opening) or attacking the net whenever you get a short ball.

If our perception or interpretation of what's going on out there isn't right though, our potential is drastically diminished. Mental Tennis covers some stuff that's relevant as general sports psychology, but the majority of material is aimed right at the tennis playing population. It taught me (among other things) how to recognize external distractions for what they are and dismiss them, how pressure is something that's merely manufactured between our ears, and even the stunning reality that lots of players are afraid to win. Sound familiar? It's the same as with maybe your car; the better you understand it's functions, the more likely you are to keep it working right.

As a coach, this book equipped me with knowledge (and self awareness) that I doubt I ever would have compiled on my own. When I play a match now, I have enough of a clue to revisit a simple plan which might just be "eye on the ball and hit deep to the backhand". Checking back on my plan before every point, even when I'm returning serve, keeps me right there in that moment where I need to be instead of worrying about being down a break or blowing a lead. With a simple plan, I already know what to do. Not a very complex thing, but it takes some practice and discipline to stick with it.

Sometime after reading this book, I played a match where I got pretty well handled by a guy. The score was 2-and-2, but I came away from that match riding one of the biggest highs of my tennis life. Several years earlier, I might have moped around about having lost pretty soundly, but despite the loss, I did so many thing right in that match that it was clearly a breakthrough for me. I was playing with better awareness... and by the way, the guy who beat me was a really strong teaching pro. Many of our points were ferocious, I crashed the net often to earn points, and even broke his serve at the outset and forced him to catch up to me. All this from improved awareness and a simple plan for each point.

Ahh, the power of good coffee!!!

LeeD
12-06-2009, 07:46 AM
Maybe start with considering the alternative. School for another 5 years, then a nice fun 35 year career making someone else rich.
So don't focus on WINNING or LOSING, instead focus on the art form of hitting really good shots, running for exercise and enjoyment, getting out in the nice natural air, having lots of friends and enemies watch you PERFORM....lifes but a stage and we're all players...but mainly, you play tennis to get something out of...not just winning and losing.
Focus on that "PERFECT" forehand winner, or that wide backhand almost diving get to a CC perfectly placed agonizer your opponent just stares stunned at....
Focus on the mechanic of the first serve, rather than whether it's going to go in or not.
Focus on the physical part, not the mental stress.

LuxilonTimo
12-06-2009, 09:38 AM
Maybe thinking that the rituals and the warm ups and eating right, would solve the problem, is the problem! Maybe you should change up your everyday routine, give yourself less time to think about it.

firstserve
12-06-2009, 10:03 AM
I think what you said is conflicting since rituals are ment to distract your mind from the aspects of winning or losing. If I were to get rid of rituals I would have a lot of time to think about results instead of process. I think what I need is not just rituals but exact tactiacal plans specifically shot patterns that I can rely on or something to focus on during a point.

tennis angel
12-06-2009, 10:29 AM
Hi, I have been playing tennis since I was 3-4 years old. I am now 16 yrs old and have been playing tournaments since the age of 9. As of just recently I have started to get extremely nervous before and during matches. When I mean extremely nervous I come to a point where my arm stiffens up so much that it is incredibly difficult for me to swing. I never used to have this nervous tension in the younger divisions instead I had more of an exhiliration or adrenaline that was actually useful. I dont know where my anxiety as really come from whether having extreme financial hardships to a pt where I feel guilty if I don't win or perhaps my own harsh expectations. I have been told to take care of the process but i don't know how to do this. Im tired of hearing same old thing like breath in breath out or eat nutricious food or even doing warm ups and basic rituals like these. I do all of these things yet I still can't help myself from being tight. I have 4.5-5.0 abilities as far as my strokes but my mind has gotten in my way. Are there any specific rituals other than breathing and bouncing the ball that will help to appease my anxiety and tension?

My coach recommends counting to five when you hit your strokes, especially the groundies. This is great in matches because it makes you focus only on the ball and the hand. It really helps with nerves. You count 1 (silently during a match of course, but in practice count out loud) when the ball bounces (not before or you will be early), then 2,3,4 and shout 5 when you make contact with the ball. Be sure to track the ball out in front, pull up and across the ball and finish over your shoulder or left side. You will be amazed how this drill improves your timing - being nervous in a match can make you prepare and strike the ball early which results errors. So, counting to 5 can help you in 2 ways; improve your timing and calm your mind.

Another thing my coach told me recently really hit home. I have often been advised by coaches, on forums and in books to play "one point at a time". This doesn't always work, because one point can be compromised of several strokes and within the point there's plenty of time to fret, calculate scores, be critical, get distracted, nervous and self-destruct. The recent advice was "stay in the present - one STROKE at a time". Wow, simple but profound. If you stay in present time stroke by stroke and stay focused on each stroke you can overcome your mind. By employing a technique like counting to 5 or watching the ball all the way 'til it hits the strings, pretending you're hitting against the wall or even "erasing" the opponent you can get back to being focused on the ball and not on your mind. My coach says that the less you think and instead play with "feel" and natural instinct the easier it will be to get into the zone, that elusive place in which you hit with ease and the ball seems to slow down and even stop.

5263
12-06-2009, 11:12 AM
I think what I need is not just rituals but exact tactiacal plans specifically shot patterns that I can rely on or something to focus on during a point.

You seem to be very much on track with this line of thought. Focus on what you intend on doing and work to accomplish that. I will get back with some suggestions later after the basketball game.

firstserve
12-06-2009, 03:13 PM
Thanks for the tip it sounds neat kind of like the bounce hit method:)

tree90
12-06-2009, 05:33 PM
firstserve i am also a junior and have been going through many of the same problems that you are. recently though i have started playing to my true potential because of many things. first, and maybe most importantly you have to just try and have fun, obviously when you're tight and overthinking you're not playing well and not having fun so just try and have fun and your game will benefit. second, buy and read the inner game of tennis its really helpful, and will address many of your problems (the bounce hit method helps tremendously with overthinking during points). third, play more tournaments, i dont know you're schedule but for me in the last year i've only been playing nationals and sectionals and my record is not that great (a little above .500), im starting to realize that its important to maybe mix in a few lower level tournaments just to get more wins under your belt to help your confidence. i know this is a lot, but its helped me so far, hope it helps you

firstserve
12-06-2009, 05:56 PM
Thanks for the advice. I already ordered a copy of the inner game of tennis however I have been playing a good number of decent tournaments and I feel that maybe I need to take some time away from tournaments to work on my game and develop shot patterns and a little bit more consistency. Does inner game of tennis just introduce methods to enjoy the game or does it give beyond obvious tactical and mental strategies See, I think that I have accidentally made myself look like I hate the game of tennis. I still have a passion to play and ofcourse I love winning however I know that losing is also a part of the game. What depresses me is not being able to win break threw matches because of my mind and not by the fact that the my opponent is more talented than me.

tree90
12-06-2009, 06:38 PM
the inner game of tennis basically addresses all of the problems your having, it teaches you about "self 1" and "self 2" and how they are used. it essentially teaches you how to remove your mind from play and allow youself to play relaxed tennis. it will make sense when you read it, but trust me it will help you tremendously. honestly, if your problem is tightness and overthinking i dont think taking time off from tournaments is gonna help you. i kind of did the same thing and when i came back i just found that i put more pressure on myself to win and was even tighter than before. i mean you even said that in practice you have 4.5-5.0 abilities, so the problem isnt your game, and if the problem isnt your game then why take a break to work on it. this is just my opinion though, and once again hope it helps.

firstserve
12-06-2009, 06:44 PM
Have you read Winning Ugly?

xFullCourtTenniSx
12-06-2009, 06:46 PM
Chill and start enjoying the game instead of focusing on winning or losing. Focus on execution if you're not having fun. Nothing should be on your mind other than what you want to do with the ball or how much fun you're having and your desperation to keep things going (unless that means postponing your win, in which case go on to the next round and play against someone who's "more fun" to play with). :twisted:

firstserve
12-06-2009, 06:48 PM
The problem with me is that my nerves do not allow me to even focus on executing the shots I am fully capable of executing in practice. There has got to be oncourt rituals or techniques or hitting patterns that the top players rely on in pressure situations.

tree90
12-06-2009, 06:59 PM
Have you read Winning Ugly?

i have read winning ugly and to be honest dont think it is the solution to your problem. the book is mostly about tennis-specific strategy, whereas the inner game of tennis is more about mental strategy. i can assure you that the inner game of tennis will help you with your problem. what you refer to above, rituals, patterns etc. are all great, but your main problem right now seems to be overthinking and tightness, and this means that youre not letting your body play. think about this; remember any time when you played your best tennis, it could be in practice or a match. do you remember yourself really thinking all that much? the anwser is probably not, because when most people are playing their best theyre not thinking about where to hit each shot, but just playing and letting their body do the work. the inner game of tennis explains this concept better than I, and will help you address it.

firstserve
12-06-2009, 08:02 PM
5263 you said you would get back to me on the topic. Were you able to find any new ideas?

firstserve
12-06-2009, 08:19 PM
If there are any current or former top juniors can you please reply to my thread and tell me what are your thought processes, rituals, hitting patterns before and during a match. Also, are there any drills that help improve consistency but also focus on being aggressive and being focused and purposeful on the court. Thanks I appreciate all advice.

firstserve
12-07-2009, 06:47 PM
Thanks for all the comments and tips so far. I will be looking for a few more suggestions.

user92626
12-07-2009, 07:48 PM
5263 described Winning Ugly in a nutshell. To flesh it out a little, I'll add that the book is divided into three parts, with each containing roughly half a dozen chapters. The parts are entitled: "The Early Edge, The Match Begins before the Match Begins"; "Playing Smart, Finding a Way to Win"; and "Mind Games, Psyching, and Gamesmanship".



Man, you only gave the titles of the chapters. That hardly fleshes out anything :)

What does it mean "The Early Edge, The Match Begins before the Match Begins"? You don't mean that you secretly put itchy powder in the guy's jock in the locker room before the match starts, do you? LOL. Perhaps that's too literal of "winning ugly"

charliefedererer
12-08-2009, 09:51 AM
Play in the present.
FULLY, focus your eyes and mind on the ball, run to it, prepare and then hit it at the optimal contact point with your best technique, recover as quickly as possible and keep focusing on the ball. (Not your opponent. Your real opponent is the ball.)

Practice on this kind of intense focus in the present while playing not only in matches, but in practice.

In between points, if you are serving, think only about which serve to hit, it's placement, and where you will likely have to run if that serve is returned, and where your first followup shot will be if it's wide, up the line, or down the middle. [And that is only going to either be to the open court, behind him or deep to recover if you are in trouble]
If returning, think only about which serve is likely, and what you plan on doing with it if it comes in wide, at the T or at your body, and what your first followup stroke will be.
Anything beyond this is too complicated.


The Inner Game of Tennis streses you owe it to your opponent to play as well as you can to give him a test of his abilities. By keeping it simple, and fully concentrating you will give him this test.

So before matches only concentrate on planning to give your oppenent the best match you can give him. And then do it one point at a time by concentrating one point at a time.

You can't do better than your best, so forget about even trying.
You can do your best by keeping it simple.
It's not rocket surgery.
It's not life or death.
You will do your best by letting it go, not over analyzing, not over worrying.

You owe it to your opponent to play each point the best you can, and to be relaxed and focused on that point so are playing your best.


To be at your best for your next match, postpone all thoughts about the match aside from: I plan to serve well and hold all, or nearly all my service games.
I plan to return well, will get back all returns I can get to, and be more aggressive on second serve returns.
I plan to focus on each and every ball during each and every point and focus on only options for the next point in between points.
I owe it to my opponent to play the best I can be by being focused and composed during each point and after each point.

Jagman
12-08-2009, 06:38 PM
User92626, the situation is even more dire than you suspect, because I only offered up the headings for the major parts that the book is divided into, and referenced just one chapter out of ... maybe eighteen.:twisted:

I prefer, when suggesting a book to someone, to just whet the appetite. I'll offer up hopefully enough information for the person to decide whether it might be relevant, or interesting enough to cross-check with other sources. Should they decide the book may be worthwhile, it is up to them to read it. You get much more out of a book, IMO, when you read it .... the whole thing .... cover to cover.

People today don't appear to want to take the time, or perhaps don't even know how, to enjoy a good book. Everybody wants snippets; the quick down and dirty. Of course, what you get then is someone else's idea of what is important, and none of the context.

Firstserve is looking for answers. He may get a lot of fine advice and ideas from these boards, but the answers he is in search of will necessarily be found on his own. He may even find what he's looking for in a book, but I suspect if that is to happen, he'll have to read it first.:)

Advice and opinion I'll readily offer. I don't need a license to dispense either, and, in some circles, it's viewed as a prerogative of age. Book reviews, however, I don't do (at least not since, what, grade school?). Besides, everyone else has done a far better job of hashing out the details than I could manage, I'm sure. :)