PDA

View Full Version : Why can't I seal the deal? Mental tricks?


Prostaffer
01-27-2010, 10:40 PM
I don't know what it is with me. I need to vent tonight. First set is 6-3. I lose my serve first game of the second set and lose 6-3. I play the third set tough and get to 5-2. Then its 5-4. All I had to do was hold serve! Then I'm down 6-5. I break back for 6-6. My one shining moment.

I had match points all during that 5-2 run. Couldn't close it. I play with a shoulder that i'm protective of, but I played so conservatively. Even started to push a little. The guy i'm playing can't create any pace. I got sick of him feeding off of me.

I'm down the whole tie break until i go from 4-5 to 6-5 with my serve! I blow it. I lose 6-8 in the tie break.

Sorry done venting.

Cliff Notes.
I get match points, or I play guys who are worse then me. IMO. I make silly mistakes and errors. Sometimes I feel bad i'm going to win. What do you guys do to help close out matches?

Ripper014
01-27-2010, 10:45 PM
I don't know what it is with me. I need to vent tonight. First set is 6-3. I lose my serve first game of the second set and lose 6-3. I play the third set tough and get to 5-2. Then its 5-4. All I had to do was hold serve! Then I'm down 6-5. I break back for 6-6. My one shining moment.

I had match points all during that 5-2 run. Couldn't close it. I play with a shoulder that i'm protective of, but I played so conservatively. Even started to push a little. The guy i'm playing can't create any pace. I got sick of him feeding off of me.

I'm down the whole tie break until i go from 4-5 to 6-5 with my serve! I blow it. I lose 6-8 in the tie break.

Sorry done venting.

Cliff Notes.
I get match points, or I play guys who are worse then me. IMO. I make silly mistakes and errors. Sometimes I feel bad i'm going to win. What do you guys do to help close out matches?



Think less...

But over the course of a match you should have a pretty good idea where you can get a cheap point. Don't over use this information... and at critical points take advantage of that knowledge.

But you do need to be careful... sometimes you need to balance should you get after a steady backhand that is not a weapon but is consistant... or a forehand that your opponent misses more with but also hits the odd winner.

Work the point and go after his weakness on the big point.

spaceman_spiff
01-28-2010, 12:17 AM
Try going for the unimaginative high-percentage strategy on match points.

For example, if you're serving and you know your opponent really struggles with slice serves into the body from his backhand side more than anything else, that's your strategy. Or, let's say the kick serve out wide is what makes him pop up the most weak shots, then there you go.

Go for the weakness. If he gets it back, go for the next weakness. Be relentless.

Or, you could go the Boom Boom route. When you're 40-0 up, forget second serves. Just go for aces on every serve, six times in a row if you have to. If the ball comes back, go for a winner every time. If you find yourself back at deuce, you can always go back to your normal game.

ferb55
01-28-2010, 03:13 AM
Physically...."Dance with the one that brought you". Translated it means to use the tactics and game that got you tothe point you are now..match point. Dont start pushing or protecting. Just bare down and let it go.

Mentally....Think less....is great advise. Ultimately, you have to be ok with losing. Otherwise you will just get in match point and do everything to "not lose" The hell with that....keep your foot on the gas and WIN. If through this tactic you lose...you have to be ok with it knowing you played your game, did your thing and it wasn't good enough.

Once you don't worry so much about losing...you may notice you are winning much more.

My .02 cents.

origmarm
01-28-2010, 03:17 AM
It's for sure mental. I recommend reading "The Inner Game of Tennis". It's techniques were effective at allowing me to relax and just play, particularly in situations like the one you describe.

spaceman_spiff
01-28-2010, 04:23 AM
Also, try playing more doubles. It doesn't sound like it should help, but it really does for those who get too conservative at the end of a match.

Against good opponents, only smart aggression wins in doubles. If you're too conservative, they'll keep poaching and such on all your shots. So, playing good doubles will get you in the habit of being aggressive (but controlled) throughout the entire course of a match, all the way through match point.

Cindysphinx
01-28-2010, 07:09 AM
Here's what I do.

If we win the first set in doubles, I have a conversation with my partner. I say, "OK, they won two games. They simply cannot be allowed to have more than two games this set." The reason I think this helps is that the reason people lose the second set is because they try to sit on their lead at the same moment that the opponent is fired up to play hard. So we too will play harder, because we have to.

Regarding how to win those tough points, I try not to think about how I am feeling. I try to think about how my opponent is feeling. If I have match point, my opponent is tight. Ho boy. One decent serve to the BH will result in a weak reply, so I need to be ready to put it away. That sort of thing.

Finally, I try to make sure I have outstanding footwork on big points. Like if a camera were focused just on my feet. That helps me avoid hitting the wounded duck I worked so hard to earn into the bottom of the net.

JavierLW
01-28-2010, 07:26 AM
I don't know what it is with me. I need to vent tonight. First set is 6-3. I lose my serve first game of the second set and lose 6-3. I play the third set tough and get to 5-2. Then its 5-4. All I had to do was hold serve! Then I'm down 6-5. I break back for 6-6. My one shining moment.

I had match points all during that 5-2 run. Couldn't close it. I play with a shoulder that i'm protective of, but I played so conservatively. Even started to push a little. The guy i'm playing can't create any pace. I got sick of him feeding off of me.

I'm down the whole tie break until i go from 4-5 to 6-5 with my serve! I blow it. I lose 6-8 in the tie break.

Sorry done venting.

Cliff Notes.
I get match points, or I play guys who are worse then me. IMO. I make silly mistakes and errors. Sometimes I feel bad i'm going to win. What do you guys do to help close out matches?

Are you thinking about all of this while you are playing the match? Many people do and in a lot of cases, they probably change what they are doing and it screws them up. (either they relax, go for too much, change strategy's, get tight, whatever....)

Try not to think about the score.

If it's 5-2 and it's your serve, just think about how your service games have been going so far and focus on actually playing the points, not whatever the outcome is going to be. Maybe pretend you need 8 games to win the set?

Delano
01-28-2010, 08:09 AM
Also, try playing more doubles. It doesn't sound like it should help, but it really does for those who get too conservative at the end of a match.

Against good opponents, only smart aggression wins in doubles. If you're too conservative, they'll keep poaching and such on all your shots. So, playing good doubles will get you in the habit of being aggressive (but controlled) throughout the entire course of a match, all the way through match point.

+1 for this comment. I've had exactly the same experience. The tight, easy ball up the center is an almost guaranteed loser in doubles, such a low percentage shot that mentally I no longer even consider it. If I miss, I miss, but at least I have a chance with aggression - whereas a floater is totally useless. Unforced errors are never desirable, of course, but in dubs, you start to see them as a byproduct of high percentage, winning tennis, something to be minimized, but not blown out of proportion. Mentally, I think this could transfer over well to singles.

Carlito
01-28-2010, 09:47 AM
I don't know what it is with me. I need to vent tonight. First set is 6-3. I lose my serve first game of the second set and lose 6-3. I play the third set tough and get to 5-2. Then its 5-4. All I had to do was hold serve! Then I'm down 6-5. I break back for 6-6. My one shining moment.

I had match points all during that 5-2 run. Couldn't close it. I play with a shoulder that i'm protective of, but I played so conservatively. Even started to push a little. The guy i'm playing can't create any pace. I got sick of him feeding off of me.

I'm down the whole tie break until i go from 4-5 to 6-5 with my serve! I blow it. I lose 6-8 in the tie break.

Sorry done venting.

Cliff Notes.
I get match points, or I play guys who are worse then me. IMO. I make silly mistakes and errors. Sometimes I feel bad i'm going to win. What do you guys do to help close out matches?

I have been in this situation many times. Last year I think I lost 8 or 9 times total and almost all of them have been in close 3 set matches where I lost the lead late. You can't prepare for it. I mean how do you simulate serving out a match 5-4 in the third.

All I can say is try to forget about all your other choke jobs and focus on the moment but that is almost impossible. So just keep playing and hopefully you have that breakthrough moment. Once you win a couple of the tight ones it gets easier the next time.

Prostaffer
01-28-2010, 11:25 AM
thanks for all the advice guys and girls. In college i played doubles, it was my favorite. Although I did win conference in singles and doubles. Even then I had a problem with tight matches. I had to blow someone out really. I haven't played in 2 years, but this is the same problem I had when I stopped playing a few years back.

The funny thing is that when I had that 5-2 lead in the second set serving for the match I was up 30-0. So I tried the boom boom approach. Just give him heat. Didn't work, he blocked back some good stuff, (my shoulder wasn't 100% so I wasn't putting all of it on there.)

Then at 5-3 to break I tried to be conservative. Block back the ball and play some points. My groundstrokes became very conservative. I even hit 5 slices on one point, forehands and backhands. I had cramps and was thinking about those so much.

Then at 5-4 I'm serving again and decide to be conservative. I hit a good serve that is the same, first and second. About 80-90% max. I didn't double fault the whole match. My opponent doubled 8 times I think.

Then at 5-5 I decide to go for it. Aggressive returns. That quickly turned into 0-40. LoL.

And honestly, losing doesn't matter that much to me. I get a little frustrated on court at myself for playing so soft. I usually just get in my car, go home and relax the rest of the night. Tonights match just gnawed at me and I started thinking back to how many people I've lost to that are pushers or where I had the advantage.

I'm also sick of guys coming up after matches with looks of disbelief that they beat me. Last night the guy would not stop complimenting my serve and net game. Last week the other guy said my strokes were way above the level of the league. I'm not trying to be a ringer, but I should be better than 1-2 at this point.

I always love reading the different perspectives from players. I just need to learn how to compete.

Delano
01-28-2010, 01:18 PM
I'm also sick of guys coming up after matches with looks of disbelief that they beat me. .

It sounds like you've played at a higher level than I have, but man, I understand this one. For a while there, I was a player that people really enjoyed beating, cause they looked good while they were doing it. The guy with good looking strokes who can't seem to win points :) I don't think this has ever happened to me in doubles, just singles.

It's helped me identify the problem area in my game, though. I'm good at generating the weak ball, but bad at the mid-court transition/putaway. Part of it is nerves, and part of it is footwork/technique. I played a guy in singles last year (one of those "I'm really surprised that guy beat you" situations) and he beat me by blocking shots back, especially my kick serve, and I just kept blowing opportunities. Sometimes I'd try to crank it and miss. Sometimes I'd hit hard but up the middle and get lobbed. Sometimes I'd hit a gutless shot and get passed or pop up an easy volley. It was a crappy day, not unlike the one you described.

I got the same guy again in doubles and we won easily, because my partner could just snack all day on the floaty return (and I can cover *half* of the net when I serve and volley just fine, it's the whole court where I start to blow it).

Singles and Doubles can really hide flaws in your game if you only play one or the other. But mentally, it does seem to me like singles involves more pressure. People say it's because you're all alone out there in singles, which is certainly true enough, but I don't think that's the whole story. There are just so many more high percentage opportunities to put away floaters or junkers in doubles that the guy who plays with no pace and causes errors just can't survive that game.

I'm tempted to just play dubs, since I win more at it and don't feel as much pressure, but you know, I need to play both to keep growing my game.

Steady Eddy
01-28-2010, 06:06 PM
In most sports there's a clock, so when you get ahead you can just do nothing while the clock runs out. In tennis, you have to keep winning. I think maybe you get conservative and quit doing what was working for you because you've got a lead. You're thinking, "Why hit risky shots?" But in tennis you have to keep taking those risks. So stay aggressive. You'll lose some points, but don't worry, you'll get your fair share.

mlktennis
01-29-2010, 08:32 AM
thanks for all the advice guys and girls. In college i played doubles, it was my favorite. Although I did win conference in singles and doubles. Even then I had a problem with tight matches. I had to blow someone out really. I haven't played in 2 years, but this is the same problem I had when I stopped playing a few years back.

The funny thing is that when I had that 5-2 lead in the second set serving for the match I was up 30-0. So I tried the boom boom approach. Just give him heat. Didn't work, he blocked back some good stuff, (my shoulder wasn't 100% so I wasn't putting all of it on there.)

Then at 5-3 to break I tried to be conservative. Block back the ball and play some points. My groundstrokes became very conservative. I even hit 5 slices on one point, forehands and backhands. I had cramps and was thinking about those so much.

Then at 5-4 I'm serving again and decide to be conservative. I hit a good serve that is the same, first and second. About 80-90% max. I didn't double fault the whole match. My opponent doubled 8 times I think.

Then at 5-5 I decide to go for it. Aggressive returns. That quickly turned into 0-40. LoL.

And honestly, losing doesn't matter that much to me. I get a little frustrated on court at myself for playing so soft. I usually just get in my car, go home and relax the rest of the night. Tonights match just gnawed at me and I started thinking back to how many people I've lost to that are pushers or where I had the advantage.
I'm also sick of guys coming up after matches with looks of disbelief that they beat me. Last night the guy would not stop complimenting my serve and net game. Last week the other guy said my strokes were way above the level of the league. I'm not trying to be a ringer, but I should be better than 1-2 at this point.

I always love reading the different perspectives from players. I just need to learn how to compete.

Sounds like you maybe have to let go of your past baggage. All the choke artist moments of the past that people carry with them always rears it's ugly head at the pressure moments. The winners think of how to win the point while the losers thinks about all the ways they can lose.

I am a choker at heart but over the last year I just let it all go. Think only about the opp and the info I have gathered over the last games/set and try to play to my ability. that's it. I don't try for the glory shot that I hit one in 50 nor my cowardly push ball. It surprises me how much better I play. Sometime I still lose but am winning (the ones I should win) more.

Ripper014
01-29-2010, 09:39 AM
I usually close out matches pretty well... but if I am well ahead I usually let my opponent choke on the ball. And as I said previously... on key points I pressure their weakneses. At 5-2 30-0 I would have put in a 85-90% serve and applied pressure. Having 3 match points will dishearten most players.

On big points I like to play high percentage tennis... and only go for winners when the odds are in my favor. I try to move the opponent around until I get a big enough opening even I have hit through.

JavierLW
01-29-2010, 12:44 PM
I usually close out matches pretty well... but if I am well ahead I usually let my opponent choke on the ball. And as I said previously... on key points I pressure their weakneses. At 5-2 30-0 I would have put in a 85-90% serve and applied pressure. Having 3 match points will dishearten most players.

On big points I like to play high percentage tennis... and only go for winners when the odds are in my favor. I try to move the opponent around until I get a big enough opening even I have hit through.

I think what trips most people up is to sit and think about all that just because it's a "key" point.

If you have a huge lead, I think for most people they should just realize what got them there and do it again. Dont change anything.

Hopefully though by that point you actually have something that YOU'RE DOING that's got you to the point. Rather then all the sudden NOW you're going to come up with something to win a few points that you "NEED" to win.....