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Djoker91
10-11-2011, 09:47 AM
So I played my friend yesterday. He had beat me and straight sets the time before that. So I got my sweet redemption by beating him 6-2 7-6(8-6) but one thing bugs me very bad. He was up 4-1 in the 2nd set and I climbed way back. I was serving 5-4 for the match. He breaks me. 5 all. I break him. I'm serving again. He breaks me. I finally squeak it out in a tie break. Had I not won the 2nd set I would have lost I think. Best of 3 only. Why am I able to perform when I'm down and am able to be clutch then, but when I'm closing it out I crumble? My forehand backhand and serve have all been fine for months so its not a technical issue. In fact I was so on it was scary. Hit the line in the oppisite corners 4 straight times one rally. Made him sprint his fastest back and forth. Yet even with my surprisingly stellar play, I fold like that? Its gotta be mental. Any tips how to change that?

fuzz nation
10-11-2011, 10:25 AM
You might be playing those individual points with too much of the match score in mind. You coasted when you were leading and ready to close out the set, but when you were trying to catch up, you buckled down and played harder from the sound of things. Some folks might recommend that you trick yourself into pretending that you're trying to catch up all the time, but that's never been so good for me.

My recommendation is to practice playing with all of your focus on nothing more than the next point. Whether you're leading, losing big-time, or even in a really tight contest, the overall score has no bearing on what it will take to earn the point that's right in front of your nose. A great way to develop this mental ritual is to play an occasional tie-breaker during a grind on the practice courts with a pal. Before each point, think about your basic plan to best attack this point, then go to work. Lather, rinse, repeat...

Yes, this can be rather repetitive and it may demand a significant degree of discipline "between the ears" in your competitive settings. You can get good at it if you work on it though, and if you think like this in your matches, you'll more likely play a sharper game whether you're either down or up. I like to call this "learning to count to one". Look to treat each point as it's own individual campaign or battle, since that's the only thing in that moment that's on the line.

goran_ace
10-11-2011, 10:53 AM
Closing out a match is almost like a skill in and of itself. Coming back from behind or closing out a win are both pressure situations, but they are different kind of pressures. I've seen a lot of players blow leads because they stop competing and tighten up or lose focus and start playing not-to-lose. Others lose their mind when playing ahead like they are betting with house money, start going for low percentage shots and let the opponent right back into the match on stupid errors.

fuzz nation is spot on with saying it takes some discipline. You need to play within yourself. When you're up 4-1 you can almost taste victory, but you still need to go out there and earn the win in the same way that you built that lead: one point at a time.

Djoker91
10-11-2011, 02:58 PM
You might be playing those individual points with too much of the match score in mind. You coasted when you were leading and ready to close out the set, but when you were trying to catch up, you buckled down and played harder from the sound of things. Some folks might recommend that you trick yourself into pretending that you're trying to catch up all the time, but that's never been so good for me.

My recommendation is to practice playing with all of your focus on nothing more than the next point. Whether you're leading, losing big-time, or even in a really tight contest, the overall score has no bearing on what it will take to earn the point that's right in front of your nose. A great way to develop this mental ritual is to play an occasional tie-breaker during a grind on the practice courts with a pal. Before each point, think about your basic plan to best attack this point, then go to work. Lather, rinse, repeat...

Yes, this can be rather repetitive and it may demand a significant degree of discipline "between the ears" in your competitive settings. You can get good at it if you work on it though, and if you think like this in your matches, you'll more likely play a sharper game whether you're either down or up. I like to call this "learning to count to one". Look to treat each point as it's own individual campaign or battle, since that's the only thing in that moment that's on the line.

Yea that makes sense. I guess I really do focus on the wrong things. I am in essence focusing on 1 point but not the right way I think. What goes thru my mind is "ok, four more points and ill be on my knees arms raised. Time to close thing match. Now get the first serves in and ill be golden" I am kinda taking it small but maybe I shouldn't even be thinking about it being match point or me winning or anything yet? Just a regular point like all the others? Because as you can tell I definitely acknowledge the situation. Maybe I shouldn't what do you think?

jaybear1909
10-13-2011, 12:40 PM
So I played my friend yesterday. He had beat me and straight sets the time before that. So I got my sweet redemption by beating him 6-2 7-6(8-6) but one thing bugs me very bad. He was up 4-1 in the 2nd set and I climbed way back. I was serving 5-4 for the match. He breaks me. 5 all. I break him. I'm serving again. He breaks me. I finally squeak it out in a tie break. Had I not won the 2nd set I would have lost I think. Best of 3 only. Why am I able to perform when I'm down and am able to be clutch then, but when I'm closing it out I crumble? My forehand backhand and serve have all been fine for months so its not a technical issue. In fact I was so on it was scary. Hit the line in the oppisite corners 4 straight times one rally. Made him sprint his fastest back and forth. Yet even with my surprisingly stellar play, I fold like that? Its gotta be mental. Any tips how to change that?

I often have the tendency to start preparing for the second or third set before I've even won the first. I've been up 5-2 and started making plans for future play before even closing the set, just for my opponent to come back and make it a close game again. One of my most competitive matches I did this and screwed it up bad. My girlfriend and I played a doubles league and her dad (who is the same skill level as I am) played with my female cousin(who is the same skill level as my girlfriend) in the same league. They beat us in the regular season, but we had to play them again in the Quarterfinals during playoffs. We lost the first set and were up 5-2 in the second; I was serving at 40-15 to my cousin (the weaker player). I knew that if I won the set, we'd more than likely win the 3rd since my girlfriends dad doesn't play well in long matches. Right before I served to her, I began to think about the 3rd set and what we should do to pull out the win. I lost focus completely. They came back and won the match in a tiebreak.

Now when I'm in those pressure points (ad. in, 30-30 etc.) I constantly have to remind myself to stay focused and play point by point.

When you're down, you're constantly pushing yourself to come back. When you're up, you play down and lose focus, while your opponent begins to push themselves.

thug the bunny
10-14-2011, 11:22 AM
I agree with fuzz as usual. What are some of the sayings?

"Focus on the ball and not on the score"

Play your best, shot by shot, point by point, and let the outcome fall where it may. That does not mean don't use strategy, just play one shot at a time.

Djoker91
10-19-2011, 02:15 PM
I often have the tendency to start preparing for the second or third set before I've even won the first. I've been up 5-2 and started making plans for future play before even closing the set, just for my opponent to come back and make it a close game again. One of my most competitive matches I did this and screwed it up bad. My girlfriend and I played a doubles league and her dad (who is the same skill level as I am) played with my female cousin(who is the same skill level as my girlfriend) in the same league. They beat us in the regular season, but we had to play them again in the Quarterfinals during playoffs. We lost the first set and were up 5-2 in the second; I was serving at 40-15 to my cousin (the weaker player). I knew that if I won the set, we'd more than likely win the 3rd since my girlfriends dad doesn't play well in long matches. Right before I served to her, I began to think about the 3rd set and what we should do to pull out the win. I lost focus completely. They came back and won the match in a tiebreak.

Now when I'm in those pressure points (ad. in, 30-30 etc.) I constantly have to remind myself to stay focused and play point by point.


When you're down, you're constantly pushing yourself to come back. When you're up, you play down and lose focus, while your opponent begins to push themselves.


Wow. I think that will help me a ton. That was well said. And thanks for giving your example in vsing your girls dad and yur cousin. This helped a lot. I plan on playing this weekend and I'm am going to employ this mind set, if the chance arises to shut a set out. Thanks again man

Limpinhitter
10-19-2011, 06:39 PM
Yea that makes sense. I guess I really do focus on the wrong things. I am in essence focusing on 1 point but not the right way I think. What goes thru my mind is "ok, four more points and ill be on my knees arms raised. Time to close thing match. Now get the first serves in and ill be golden" I am kinda taking it small but maybe I shouldn't even be thinking about it being match point or me winning or anything yet? Just a regular point like all the others? Because as you can tell I definitely acknowledge the situation. Maybe I shouldn't what do you think?

The key is to focus on executing your shots one at a time, and executing your gameplan, and forgetting about the score. The best you can possibly do is to execute your shots and your gameplan. Do that and let the score take care of itself.

DavaiMarat
10-20-2011, 06:53 AM
So I played my friend yesterday. He had beat me and straight sets the time before that. So I got my sweet redemption by beating him 6-2 7-6(8-6) but one thing bugs me very bad. He was up 4-1 in the 2nd set and I climbed way back. I was serving 5-4 for the match. He breaks me. 5 all. I break him. I'm serving again. He breaks me. I finally squeak it out in a tie break. Had I not won the 2nd set I would have lost I think. Best of 3 only. Why am I able to perform when I'm down and am able to be clutch then, but when I'm closing it out I crumble? My forehand backhand and serve have all been fine for months so its not a technical issue. In fact I was so on it was scary. Hit the line in the oppisite corners 4 straight times one rally. Made him sprint his fastest back and forth. Yet even with my surprisingly stellar play, I fold like that? Its gotta be mental. Any tips how to change that?

You need to trick yourself. I've played entire matches believing I was down 1-3. I'm not sure what happens when your body thinks it losing but it's ups its intensity subconsciously. Your more alert, you scamper better, you swing out more...there's a feeling of desperation that makes your body bring out all the stops. It's almost ends up feeling more like survival then just a match.

Try and trick yourself to thinking at the beginning of every game it's 1-3. Works for me. The downside is you'll win the match and be like wow, I feel kinda bummed out and mentally drained. Save it for matches that really count for something.

The moment you start enjoying your lead is the moment you begin to relax. Never lose your intensity. Look at Rafa and the new Djoker. About the 2 most intense players out there. There's a very good reason they are #1 and #2.

Some say Djoker is cocky with all the fist pumps and stares and yells. Let me tell you, when you get in the animal state, you need to release that tension somehow. I totally understand why they do it.

Waluigi
10-20-2011, 12:08 PM
You know something, it's not easy to front-run.

When there's "nothing" ahead of you it can be difficult to find your focus, and squash the stray thoughts that lead to choking.

I've been following this new tennis site for a couple weeks now, and today they have a great article "Zen and the Art of Mental Strength (http://www.collegetennis.me/2011/10/tennis-strategy-zen-and-the-art-of-mental-strength/)."

You might find something there that helps you out! : )

TheBoom
10-20-2011, 01:09 PM
You gotta have killer instinct. When you have a chance to end it end it. I just to myself hey this is an opening i gotta take it remember what got you here and stick to it. Just go for it its hard to tell you something cuz i dont know you but thats what works for me

fuzz nation
10-21-2011, 06:35 AM
Yea that makes sense. I guess I really do focus on the wrong things. I am in essence focusing on 1 point but not the right way I think. What goes thru my mind is "ok, four more points and ill be on my knees arms raised. Time to close thing match. Now get the first serves in and ill be golden" I am kinda taking it small but maybe I shouldn't even be thinking about it being match point or me winning or anything yet? Just a regular point like all the others? Because as you can tell I definitely acknowledge the situation. Maybe I shouldn't what do you think?

Yep, that's exactly the trap that can shift your head into cruise control instead of staying on the gas pedal and using the same "drive" that earned you that lead. Counting them chickens, right? It's not easy, but it makes a big difference when we can remain focused on the goal of winning the point, whatever it takes.

Perceptions and expectations can weight heavily on how we go about our business on the courts - a nugget of wisdom I learned after reading a terrific book by Vic Braden (Mental Tennis). Think of this: The end of the match only means that tennis is over regardless of whether you win or lose. Each point is its own opportunity to notch a solid victory. It could be a service ace or a long, heroic grind where you outlast the other guy, but each one of those victories can be a great experience on its own. You can have more fun winning SIX games instead of just ONE set, FOUR points instead of only ONE game, etc. Use your own lens to look at the challenge in its best light.

For the record, I turned a corner with this mental approach myself a few years ago in a match against a really solid teaching pro. I managed my play very much "in the moment", playing a tenacious all-court game for the better part of an hour and a half, and attacked each point on a case by case basis (using the right lens). Probably the best match I'd played in a decade... really. Even though I lost the match maybe 6-2, 6-2, the guy I played was really surprised with how strong of a fight I put up that night. I even got an early break in both sets and forced him to buckle down and reel me in.

Because I played with the right perspective, that match was a huge achievement for me, even though I didn't win on the score sheet. I suppose that the real luxury of that mindset, as repetitive as it may seem, is that it can give us very little to worry about when the heat is on. In basic terms, whenever we can shrink our to-do list during a match, the easier it can be to "git 'er dunn".

fuzz nation
10-21-2011, 06:44 AM
Yea that makes sense. I guess I really do focus on the wrong things. I am in essence focusing on 1 point but not the right way I think. What goes thru my mind is "ok, four more points and ill be on my knees arms raised. Time to close thing match. Now get the first serves in and ill be golden" I am kinda taking it small but maybe I shouldn't even be thinking about it being match point or me winning or anything yet? Just a regular point like all the others? Because as you can tell I definitely acknowledge the situation. Maybe I shouldn't what do you think?

Oh by the way, that's also a trap. Very not good.

Braden would most probably agree with Brad Gilbert and many other gurus around the sport in that every point carries weight. What's more important; a break point, the deuce point that preceded that one, or the first point you won in that game where you eventually broke your opponent? Trick question, right? You need every single one of them.

Carry on...