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View Full Version : How do you avoid beating yourself?


Edward DFW
01-18-2010, 08:13 PM
Its a crappy thing to admit but its the truth. My #1 weakness is all in my head. I'm not a stupid person but for some reason when I get on the court sometimes I just lose focus or sabotage myself. How do you correct stuff like this? I really sucked tonight. I kind of feel like I need to find some batteries and power up my label maker and tape some reminders on the side beam of me racquet. I'm really a headcase.

I know how I am capable of playing and I realize that a lot of people have an idealized view of themself when they think of what they could be capable of but lately I'm not even 50% of that image. I'm picturing stuff going out before I make contact.

Not good.

Any advice?

My first league match ever is on Thursday night. I feel like nobody can beat me at this level unless I screw myself up. Problem is, I have been screwing myself up lately.

Sunday I just could not serve well. Lately that hasn't been a problem for me so after I went to the park and hit over 220 serves (55 in the hopper x 4 full hoppers + a few balls that I picked up that went into the net each time) and I served well. Probably above 80% (which may have been partially due to a low net at the park, if it was indeed low but the majority had enough topspin to clear any net height).

Then tonight I double faulted like 6 times in match play in lessons. I also hit a bunch of serves that could not be returned by my classmates or instructor (at least it wasn't all bad... no aces though because I am spinning everything it and not hitting flat to protect my shoulder). A lot of it is in my head. So how do I fix it?

PushyPushster
01-19-2010, 01:55 AM
My first league match ever is on Thursday night. I feel like nobody can beat me at this level unless I screw myself up.

I think the above attitude might be a problem. The few times I've allowed myself to go into a league match believing I could easily spank my opponent there have been big problems. Don't take your opponent lightly - *especially* if you're in a slump. I'd suggest going into your match trying to play some high-percentage tennis at the beginning and, if things go well, ramping up from there.

My #1 weakness is all in my head. I'm not a stupid person but for some reason when I get on the court sometimes I just lose focus or sabotage myself.

How does this manifest itself? Whenever I get wound up, I just remind myself that this is a game and it's supposed to be fun. Nobody on this board is getting an invitation to the US Open. Well, not me anyhow.

Edward DFW
01-19-2010, 02:19 AM
I think the above attitude might be a problem. The few times I've allowed myself to go into a league match believing I could easily spank my opponent there have been big problems. Don't take your opponent lightly - *especially* if you're in a slump. I'd suggest going into your match trying to play some high-percentage tennis at the beginning and, if things go well, ramping up from there.

Its not really about thinking that I can spank everyone. Just that if I play at a level that is 75% of what I feel I am capable of I should win. At 3.0 I don't see people having anything that could hurt me short of being super athletic and able to run everything down. Problem is, I don't play high percentage tennis lately. Lack of consistency and lack of match experience is why I am playing at 3.0 rather than 3.5.

I think you are right though, maybe that attitude is a problem because it makes me feel like I am going to be putting pressure on myself not to lose instead of just trying to play the game.


How does this manifest itself? Whenever I get wound up, I just remind myself that this is a game and it's supposed to be fun. Nobody on this board is getting an invitation to the US Open. Well, not me anyhow.

It pretty much comes down to missing a lot of shots that I should make. Short balls, sitters... I don't try to crush everything like I used to a long time ago but sometimes I tighten up and overthink things. Or if I have a lot of time to hit a shot I mess it up because I watch the target instead of the ball or try to decide what I am going to do with it. Not beating people who I should beat. And the last two times I've played, double faults (which used to be a big problem for me when I hit everything flat but had gone away since I switched to spinning in my serves). Getting caught between playing too conservative and too aggressive rather than just taking consistent relaxed swings and going after things when I have the opportunity.

Cindysphinx
01-19-2010, 03:56 AM
I guess I'd say it boils down to two basic problems: Making errors on things you can control like the serve, and going for more than you should.

For the errors on things you can control, maybe you just need a framework and some rules for yourself. Things like: (1) You will only hit the perfect toss, and you will toss as much as you have to to get that toss; (2) You are not permitted to go for an ace unless it is 40-love; (3) when you are down break point, you may only hit a second serve, and both second serves must be aimed at the same spot.

Regarding the UEs on attempted aggressive plays, you might decide going into your match that you will try to as few winners as possible. The goal isn't to hit winners (if we are talking about a level that is not challenging for you). The goal is to hit the ball so well and so consistently that your opponent is a touch off balance and makes UEs. So when you have that big, fat sitter, just hit the ball to a location that will put your opponent in trouble. Let your opponent experience the soul-sucking frustration of finding himself always just a little bit late and a little bit off balance.

Learning how to compete is hard, and it might be the hardest part of tennis. There are top pros who can't seem to do it. For me, I have been trying really hard to impose some discipline and structure to what I am doing out there and it does seem to help. Most players at 3.0 and 3.5 will hand you the match if you give them half the chance. :)

Good luck tonight!!

Steady Eddy
01-19-2010, 05:06 AM
So if you serve 80% with a hopper, then you should serve at that rate in a match? Not really. You can get in a groove when using the hopper like that. In a match you're doing more than serving and you don't get grooved as well. Maybe your expectations are too high and you're being too hard on yourself? We've all seen pros miss shots that beginners would get. If they can forgive themselves, then the rest of us should too. Hang in there, this bad streak will correct itself.

tfm1973
01-19-2010, 05:32 AM
Most players at 3.0 and 3.5 will hand you the match if you give them half the chance.

this works at pretty much ALL the levels. hand them the rope and let them hang themselves.

PushyPushster
01-19-2010, 10:15 AM
Edward: I think Cindy gave you some good tips, but I'll add one thing. You've got to judge your game objectively, and that means by wins and losses. Bill Parcells drove that point home at many a press conference - I remember when he took over the Cowboys after three consecutive 5-11 seasons.

Reporter: "They've got a lot of youth on defense, and a lot of potential, don't you think coach?"

Parcells: "Maybe."

Reporter: "But with the raw talent they've got, don't you think that they're better than a 5-11 team?"

Parcells: "They're a 5-11 club."

Reporter: "But, defensively, don't you think they're poised to -"

Parcells: "You are what your record says you are. They're a 5-11 team."

If you end up losing more games that you thought, it's probably pointing to something some aspect of the game you need to work on. Anyhow, Good luck!

Edward DFW
01-19-2010, 05:26 PM
I guess I'd say it boils down to two basic problems: Making errors on things you can control like the serve, and going for more than you should.

For the errors on things you can control, maybe you just need a framework and some rules for yourself. Things like: (1) You will only hit the perfect toss, and you will toss as much as you have to to get that toss; (2) You are not permitted to go for an ace unless it is 40-love; (3) when you are down break point, you may only hit a second serve, and both second serves must be aimed at the same spot.

Regarding the UEs on attempted aggressive plays, you might decide going into your match that you will try to as few winners as possible. The goal isn't to hit winners (if we are talking about a level that is not challenging for you). The goal is to hit the ball so well and so consistently that your opponent is a touch off balance and makes UEs. So when you have that big, fat sitter, just hit the ball to a location that will put your opponent in trouble. Let your opponent experience the soul-sucking frustration of finding himself always just a little bit late and a little bit off balance.

Learning how to compete is hard, and it might be the hardest part of tennis. There are top pros who can't seem to do it. For me, I have been trying really hard to impose some discipline and structure to what I am doing out there and it does seem to help. Most players at 3.0 and 3.5 will hand you the match if you give them half the chance. :)

Good luck tonight!!

Thanks for the good advice. Fortunately my 1st match is Thursday night so I have a little time to get my mind right. Originally I was going to play to get better and not to win. Then my expectations + the expectations of others and the fact that there is a trophy involved (unexpected development) made me care more than I thought I would. I need to just work on my consistency and forget about all of that stuff. I need this experience to get better.

Edward DFW
01-19-2010, 05:30 PM
So if you serve 80% with a hopper, then you should serve at that rate in a match? Not really. You can get in a groove when using the hopper like that. In a match you're doing more than serving and you don't get grooved as well. Maybe your expectations are too high and you're being too hard on yourself? We've all seen pros miss shots that beginners would get. If they can forgive themselves, then the rest of us should too. Hang in there, this bad streak will correct itself.

Believe me, I know all about getting into a grove with a hopper. When I used to hit everything flat and as hard as I could I could get some sick grooves going after hitting 30 to 50 serves. Thing is, lately double faulting had not been a problem so while I might not expect to serve at 80%, I would not expect to double fault. But, to be fair to myself Sunday and Monday I didn't have much time (very little Sunday, 0 warmup on Monday) to warm up my serve.

Anyway, like you said... expectations are too high. I need to just play.

Edward DFW
01-19-2010, 05:35 PM
Edward: I think Cindy gave you some good tips, but I'll add one thing. You've got to judge your game objectively, and that means by wins and losses. Bill Parcells drove that point home at many a press conference - I remember when he took over the Cowboys after three consecutive 5-11 seasons.

Reporter: "They've got a lot of youth on defense, and a lot of potential, don't you think coach?"

Parcells: "Maybe."

Reporter: "But with the raw talent they've got, don't you think that they're better than a 5-11 team?"

Parcells: "They're a 5-11 club."

Reporter: "But, defensively, don't you think they're poised to -"

Parcells: "You are what your record says you are. They're a 5-11 team."

If you end up losing more games that you thought, it's probably pointing to something some aspect of the game you need to work on. Anyhow, Good luck!

I think maybe I need to judge it by different standards. At least for now. Judge it by how well I was able to find a happy medium between too aggressive and too conservative and hopefully everything should take care of itself. Let go of the outcome and just play.

Renfrow
01-21-2010, 06:44 PM
How did it go?

Edward DFW
01-21-2010, 10:04 PM
How did it go?

I lost http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=308060

Sakkijarvi
01-25-2010, 02:19 PM
A Heinie light and three aspirin before your next match.

HookEmJeff
01-25-2010, 08:31 PM
Only one surefire answer to that one. Don't show up, don't play.

Otherwise it happens. At some point, we've all been our own toughest opponent.



Jeff