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mxmx
01-16-2012, 05:29 AM
Hi there guys

My general game is not my problem. I have a good all round game and can play most shots better and with more variation than most people at my club. I do however, have a problem with the mental aspect of the game...so much so, that when i havent played tennis for some while, i often come back a better player due to my head being cleared and being hungry for the game again. This has become such a problem, that i want to prevent watching any tennis, receive any coaching or even be on this bulletin board until my matches are over.

Here are some of my problems i have on the mental side:

1) weeks before a match, i would worry about the match
2) stress out when walking on court and sometimes choke (sometimes not)
3) struggle breathing due to tenseness
4) forget scores and make wrong shot selections out of desperation almost

I am tired of stressing over just a game. When i am relaxed, few people outrally me with pace...when they slow it down, i put the balls away...when i am not relaxed, i make the errors. I am basically my own worst enemy. Often, the game is won or lost in my warmup or even the first strike of a ball. I either feel on, or off totally random...and i have no clue as to which person of my "split personality" will show up on the court.

I want to be proactive as to preventing some of these things. For example, having a solid gameplan, may take my mind off of stressing? I have even gone as far as considering to take a small notepad with my general strategy and backup strategy...as well as even taking scores :|
One proactive measure i want to consider taking, is hitting before a match (aside from the normal pre warmup). I used to like the idea to save all my energy...but these days, i think hitting beforehand, may actually calm me down. Normally i am very fit, but my stress and breathing ratio, has sometimes tired me in even the first games....sometimes as late as set 2 my breathing recovers.

Please help me to clear this head of mine because there is far too much going on in it inbetween matches. I need proactive steps instead of prevention steps if you know what i mean...

mxmx
01-16-2012, 11:48 PM
lol...should i shorten my post?

mikeler
01-17-2012, 04:49 AM
Take up shuffleboard.

mxmx
01-17-2012, 05:15 AM
I haven't played that before...maybe you can teach me that one day

LuckyR
01-17-2012, 09:00 AM
Here are some of my problems i have on the mental side:

1) weeks before a match, i would worry about the match
2) stress out when walking on court and sometimes choke (sometimes not)
3) struggle breathing due to tenseness
4) forget scores and make wrong shot selections out of desperation almost

I am tired of stressing over just a game. When i am relaxed, few people outrally me with pace...when they slow it down, i put the balls away...when i am not relaxed, i make the errors. I am basically my own worst enemy. Often, the game is won or lost in my warmup or even the first strike of a ball. I either feel on, or off totally random...and i have no clue as to which person of my "split personality" will show up on the court.

I want to be proactive as to preventing some of these things. For example, having a solid gameplan, may take my mind off of stressing? I have even gone as far as considering to take a small notepad with my general strategy and backup strategy...as well as even taking scores :|
One proactive measure i want to consider taking, is hitting before a match (aside from the normal pre warmup). I used to like the idea to save all my energy...but these days, i think hitting beforehand, may actually calm me down. Normally i am very fit, but my stress and breathing ratio, has sometimes tired me in even the first games....sometimes as late as set 2 my breathing recovers.

Please help me to clear this head of mine because there is far too much going on in it inbetween matches. I need proactive steps instead of prevention steps if you know what i mean...


Wow. You seem pretty tightly wound. It makes one wonder on the impact of the part of your personality that is affecting your tennis, on the rest of your life, but I digress...

Anyway, you are correct that you need to think a lot less about your game and tennis in general. The hard part is how to stop thinking about something on purpose. Let's run an experiment: Stop thinking about zebras! OK what are you thinking about right now?

The key to stopping thinking about something, is to think about something else on purpose. Some repeat "hit" & "bounce" following the ball around the court. Others concentrate on their footwork only.

Give it a try.

Power Player
01-17-2012, 09:15 AM
Take up shuffleboard.

lol.

But OP, from your posts prior I can tell you overthink things. Nothing wrong with that, it probably means you are very efficient at your job.

In tennis, it means you are not going to play loose and relaxed, and that will kill you in matches. It happens to everyone though, but is going to be magnified with your type of personality.

The only solution is to play more matches. If you are thinking about matches weeks in advance, then you are not playing enough of them.

HunterST
01-17-2012, 09:34 AM
Try to play matches or simulate matches as much as you can. The more you experience those pressure situations, the less they will bother you. Sometimes you can modify games to make them include more pressure situations. Play tie-breaks with a partner rather than a normal set because that will have more game points etc.

Seriously though, man. You stress about matches weeks before? That's pretty extreme. I'm not sure anyone can give you simple tips to get over that. Try to remember that this is just a game and whether you win or lose really has no bearing on anything. In tennis magazine a sports psychologist pointed out that people often stress about how it will "look" if they lose. Will people think they suck or have no talent? In actuality, the expert pointed out, no one really cares about your recreational match results.

thug the bunny
01-17-2012, 10:28 AM
Wow, that's wierd. And tough. Sorry, but I'm glad I don't share your condition.

Well, here it is: Think ONLY about each shot, and not about consequences! Stay in each point, and don't give one smidgen of thought to the outcome. Sorry if that's too simple.

WildVolley
01-17-2012, 11:30 AM
HunterST gives you very good advice. You need to desensitize yourself to high pressure situations by exposing yourself to more pressure during practice. Play competitive games during practice with something on the line - money, pushups, anything.

A lot of people tighten up during matches; it just seems you have an extreme case of this problem. Shift your focus away from winning or losing and back to playing each point.

mikeler
01-17-2012, 12:10 PM
I haven't played that before...maybe you can teach me that one day


It's fun. Just focus on moving your feet and watching the ball. Everything else will fall into place from there.

thug the bunny
01-17-2012, 12:29 PM
mikeler, you should stop being so facetious. We all know that shuffleboard is an intensely competitive sport that chews up and spits out all but the most hardened of competitors.

mxmx
01-17-2012, 11:49 PM
Wow. You seem pretty tightly wound. It makes one wonder on the impact of the part of your personality that is affecting your tennis, on the rest of your life, but I digress...

Well...almost an understatement. I don't always like my personality...wish it would change, and i try to work on my drawbacks. But then again, i think it can make things interesting...would not help if everyone had the personality of the Twilight actors.

Anyway, you are correct that you need to think a lot less about your game and tennis in general. The hard part is how to stop thinking about something on purpose. Let's run an experiment: Stop thinking about zebras! OK what are you thinking about right now?
lol...well...zebras and tennis :P
Tennis is not the only thing i really overthink. I am like this with everything. I can spend hours thinking about certain things...sometimes replaying what people said or did and so forth. Sometimes i think of tennis technique...thinking of this in detail, has given me precision and a strong blueprint of what to do. But i need to find mental strategies to almost distract myself from certain situations on the court.

The key to stopping thinking about something, is to think about something else on purpose. Some repeat "hit" & "bounce" following the ball around the court. Others concentrate on their footwork only.

Good advice and i will try to put this into practice.

mxmx
01-18-2012, 12:06 AM
lol.

But OP, from your posts prior I can tell you overthink things. Nothing wrong with that, it probably means you are very efficient at your job.

In tennis, it means you are not going to play loose and relaxed, and that will kill you in matches. It happens to everyone though, but is going to be magnified with your type of personality.

The only solution is to play more matches. If you are thinking about matches weeks in advance, then you are not playing enough of them.

I think you are right at everything you said above. As if you knew me.

You see...i am trying to prevent one of the biggest factors that influence me in my matches. The START of the match. The first few minutes to me has a massive outcome toward how the rest of the match normally goes.
I once started a match so nervous at a changeover against a strong opponent that i found myself not breathing. I then made some concious decision strategically, which turned the match around and i destroyed him. I remember that i made some decisions, but i cannot remember what exactly it was. I am trying to emulate that day. Does anyone have experience where they have changed their thinking in the middle of a match to become more relaxed?

mxmx
01-18-2012, 12:17 AM
Try to play matches or simulate matches as much as you can. The more you experience those pressure situations, the less they will bother you. Sometimes you can modify games to make them include more pressure situations. Play tie-breaks with a partner rather than a normal set because that will have more game points etc.

Seriously though, man. You stress about matches weeks before? That's pretty extreme. I'm not sure anyone can give you simple tips to get over that. Try to remember that this is just a game and whether you win or lose really has no bearing on anything. In tennis magazine a sports psychologist pointed out that people often stress about how it will "look" if they lose. Will people think they suck or have no talent? In actuality, the expert pointed out, no one really cares about your recreational match results.

Wildvolley: HunterST gives you very good advice. You need to desensitize yourself to high pressure situations by exposing yourself to more pressure during practice. Play competitive games during practice with something on the line - money, pushups, anything.

A lot of people tighten up during matches; it just seems you have an extreme case of this problem. Shift your focus away from winning or losing and back to playing each point.

I suppose i forgot to mention that these stresses weeks ahead, are normally toward my rivals specifically. There is this one player which is just so good, i cannot explain. I do have the shotmaking to beat him...but mentally, ive seen no one better in the game of tennis (except on tv maybe)

Is it a bad idea to have basic notes to take on court as reminders? I know it sounds crazy...but something like this:

Plan A:
1) attack short ball
2) conservative on deep ball
3) play high to backhand

Plan B:
1) attack all out
2) follow up to net
3) serve & volley

Or is it something one has to have in your head before a match?
Maybe it could provide focus?

I need to find a way to play to my natural ability in match situations.

BarNotchky
01-18-2012, 01:48 AM
Perhaps a glass of red wine an hour before your match can take the edge off.

mxmx
01-18-2012, 03:56 AM
not sure if you were joking...i don't drink, but have consider steps like this (within legal limits of course) ...like maybe some calming pills?

I once played my best ever match because i did not think i was going to play that day. I ended up playing so relaxed because there was no prior stress.

Power Player
01-18-2012, 06:17 AM
I think you are right at everything you said above. As if you knew me.

You see...i am trying to prevent one of the biggest factors that influence me in my matches. The START of the match. The first few minutes to me has a massive outcome toward how the rest of the match normally goes.
I once started a match so nervous at a changeover against a strong opponent that i found myself not breathing. I then made some concious decision strategically, which turned the match around and i destroyed him. I remember that i made some decisions, but i cannot remember what exactly it was. I am trying to emulate that day. Does anyone have experience where they have changed their thinking in the middle of a match to become more relaxed?

You just have really high anxiety, but the human mind can adapt and change.

I think all of us have some nerves at the start of a match. I have had it for sure. The thing is you need to take baby steps. First work on settling into the match and accept you will be nervous for a few games. That's not very uncommon.

The mentality that the first few minutes determines the outcome of the match is wrong and is what is killing you. It really does not. You can easily turn a match around after dropping the first set if it gets to that point.

What I do is not think about the score after I say it or the opponent says it. I think about the point I am playing and nothing else. It helps your mind focus. You are probably thinking about things like "im losing..this sucks" "im winning..dont choke!", and those types of thoughts are no good. You just want to think about each point.

For example, before returning serve I always think to myself on where the ball is coming and where I want to put it. I always have a plan before the point starts basically. Try that.

goran_ace
01-18-2012, 06:44 AM
Does anyone have experience where they have changed their thinking in the middle of a match to become more relaxed?

It's just pre-match jitters. Only solution to that is to play through it and get more match experience. Eventually it just goes away.

It seems like there are a number of people here who don't believe in playing tournaments at a young age, but in my opinion/experience it has a lot of value and this is one of those reasons. When I was playing 12s and even into 14s I would sometimes get so nervous before a match I'd be on the verge of throwing up. Warm up would go horribly and I wouldn't snap out of it until after a few games went by. By the time I was playing high school tennis and 16s I was over that. Nerves of steel. Just keep playing, it'll come to you.

One thing my coach had me do on the strategic side was to develop some 'set plays' for me to rely on. His metaphor was like scripting the first few plays like the bill walsh disciple west coast offenses in football (hey it was the 90's). If your mind isn't working right now, simplify the decision making and go on auto-pilot and get yourself into the rhythm of the match. So in practice I would work on a few go-to tactics and make them automatic.

skiracer55
01-18-2012, 12:31 PM
...don't think your way through a match. Which is another way of saying "watch the ball, hit it hard, and don't think." It's just a game...if you lose a match, they probably won't take you out and shoot you, and if you win, you probably won't get a wild card into Wimbledon. There's a million things you can try, but if you can't loosen up and enjoy a tennis match, maybe it's time to try something else...

user92626
01-18-2012, 12:44 PM
Responses like that from skiracer are interesting though!

They completely discount what builds up before the game begins. Like in this simple singles game that I just played, my opponent was completely innocent and friendly but his friends were the talkative and goading types. They taunted how I couldn't hit hard, my tennis was nothing, how much money would I want to bet, etc. That's been their talks for weeks leading up to today's game. So, it was no longer a simple, fun game that suddenly happened. Needless to say, I did feel the pressure and hold back so much in the set.

skiracer55
01-18-2012, 01:02 PM
Responses like that from skiracer are interesting though!

They completely discount what builds up before the game begins. Like in this simple singles game that I just played, my opponent was completely innocent and friendly but his friends were the talkative and goading types. They taunted how I couldn't hit hard, my tennis was nothing, how much money would I want to bet, etc. That's been their talks for weeks leading up to today's game. So, it was no longer a simple, fun game that suddenly happened. Needless to say, I did feel the pressure and hold back so much in the set.

...and trash behavior ain't supposed to happen. I know it does, however, so my advice is go find some players who want to play hard but fair. They're out there, believe it or not...

mxmx
01-19-2012, 01:31 AM
...The mentality that the first few minutes determines the outcome of the match is wrong and is what is killing you. It really does not. You can easily turn a match around after dropping the first set if it gets to that point.

How can i explain this...hmm...Let me try...
At the start of a match, sometimes i can immediately feel my game is fine. I feel it in my strokes. As if my eye is immediately in. It does not mean i will win, but when i feel like this, i play well...win or lose. The opposite also occurs...we walk onto the court...i hit one or two shots...maybe 10....and i can feel somethings off. Win or lose, i don't normally play as well when i feel like this. It feels like another person has walked onto the court.
Normally, i either play really bad, or really good. I am hot or cold...In recent times this has gradually been less drastic between the two.

In doubles, i am mentally much more stable and mature for some reason. I choke more in singles than in doubles.

What I do is not think about the score after I say it or the opponent says it. I think about the point I am playing and nothing else. It helps your mind focus. You are probably thinking about things like "im losing..this sucks" "im winning..dont choke!", and those types of thoughts are no good. You just want to think about each point.
Yes..taking each point as it comes. I do this sometimes and it works well most of the times except that it influences my overall general focus...something as simple as just keeping score. In one match, i did not know it was match point and lost thinking i had another serve. Terrible, i know.

For example, before returning serve I always think to myself on where the ball is coming and where I want to put it. I always have a plan before the point starts basically. Try that.
Yes, good advice and i don't have problems with this as much. My return of serve is one of my weapons, and like you, this is one of the ways it helps. Not as easy for me to do in a rally or volley situation though.

thanks again

mxmx
01-19-2012, 01:44 AM
It's just pre-match jitters. Only solution to that is to play through it and get more match experience. Eventually it just goes away.

It seems like there are a number of people here who don't believe in playing tournaments at a young age, but in my opinion/experience it has a lot of value and this is one of those reasons. When I was playing 12s and even into 14s I would sometimes get so nervous before a match I'd be on the verge of throwing up. Warm up would go horribly and I wouldn't snap out of it until after a few games went by. By the time I was playing high school tennis and 16s I was over that. Nerves of steel. Just keep playing, it'll come to you.

One thing my coach had me do on the strategic side was to develop some 'set plays' for me to rely on. His metaphor was like scripting the first few plays like the bill walsh disciple west coast offenses in football (hey it was the 90's). If your mind isn't working right now, simplify the decision making and go on auto-pilot and get yourself into the rhythm of the match. So in practice I would work on a few go-to tactics and make them automatic.

Not going to give away my age...but not that young :P
But based on most people's answers, i get the impression i don't practice nearly enough. I need more pressure scenarios to de-sensitize myself....especially against better players

mxmx
01-19-2012, 01:50 AM
...don't think your way through a match. Which is another way of saying "watch the ball, hit it hard, and don't think." It's just a game...if you lose a match, they probably won't take you out and shoot you, and if you win, you probably won't get a wild card into Wimbledon. There's a million things you can try, but if you can't loosen up and enjoy a tennis match, maybe it's time to try something else...

I think im too hard on myself and expect too much...I do enjoy it, even if i'm intense or too serious. But yes, i have tried to become more laid back, cause it seems to make me a better player.

maybe it's time to try something else...
I am actually better at foosball than tennis...but no one wants to play with me Not even gamblers *tears*

mxmx
01-19-2012, 01:52 AM
Responses like that from skiracer are interesting though!

They completely discount what builds up before the game begins. Like in this simple singles game that I just played, my opponent was completely innocent and friendly but his friends were the talkative and goading types. They taunted how I couldn't hit hard, my tennis was nothing, how much money would I want to bet, etc. That's been their talks for weeks leading up to today's game. So, it was no longer a simple, fun game that suddenly happened. Needless to say, I did feel the pressure and hold back so much in the set.

did you win or lose the match?

user92626
01-19-2012, 09:04 AM
did you win or lose the match?

I won this particular match, but nothing to write home about since he was 15 years my senior and was just relying on putting the ball back in play, nothing spectacular. But I am still glad I won or I would never hear the end of his friends' friendly disguised trash talks.

Previous two of similar "trash" talk matches against two other boastful players were more worth note taking. Outside, other people were more seriously taunting and we ended up playing for breakfast. Godammit, I initially lead 5-3 and served for the match but eventually lost 5-7 :(

This trash talk type of game is much more prevalent than skiracer thinks. It's part of competition and I just need to learn to deal with it if I want to play a good game. I think that's the reason why people at my courts tend to avoid playing singles. They have something to protect. I would say healthily competitive and good players who are willing to play with you on a consistent basis are a rare breed. I'm still looking for one or two.

mikeler
01-19-2012, 09:22 AM
It's just pre-match jitters. Only solution to that is to play through it and get more match experience. Eventually it just goes away.

It seems like there are a number of people here who don't believe in playing tournaments at a young age, but in my opinion/experience it has a lot of value and this is one of those reasons. When I was playing 12s and even into 14s I would sometimes get so nervous before a match I'd be on the verge of throwing up. Warm up would go horribly and I wouldn't snap out of it until after a few games went by. By the time I was playing high school tennis and 16s I was over that. Nerves of steel. Just keep playing, it'll come to you.

One thing my coach had me do on the strategic side was to develop some 'set plays' for me to rely on. His metaphor was like scripting the first few plays like the bill walsh disciple west coast offenses in football (hey it was the 90's). If your mind isn't working right now, simplify the decision making and go on auto-pilot and get yourself into the rhythm of the match. So in practice I would work on a few go-to tactics and make them automatic.


I did not start playing tournaments until I was 14 so I did not really get over the jitters until I was about 17. The more you put yourself in competitive situations, the more comfortable you become.

andry16
01-19-2012, 09:40 AM
from my perspective i think you have a fear are afraid of losing.

you have to realice that winning is good but losing is good too because thats part of your training, it makes you see what you have to improve and if you see losing is not that bad.

i would recomend you to lose your next match on purpose, just keeping the ball in play, without any expectations.

normally people think that only by winning you improve but by losing you improve much more because that is part of your training and your evolution, i personally enjoy victory and defeat as i learn things from both.

and remember its not how many times you fall that matters, its about how many times you get back up

oh and here is a video, its a poem read by roger and rafa and im not posting it because they are in the video, its just the words that are in it, maybe it can help you with something

http://www.youtube.com/?rdm=4ozmbjq9r&reload=3#/watch?v=T2Udv9fXIIM

dennis10is
01-19-2012, 05:58 PM
Hi there guys

My general game is not my problem. I have a good all round game and can play most shots better and with more variation than most people at my club. I do however, have a problem with the mental aspect of the game...so much so, that when i havent played tennis for some while, i often come back a better player due to my head being cleared and being hungry for the game again. This has become such a problem, that i want to prevent watching any tennis, receive any coaching or even be on this bulletin board until my matches are over.

Here are some of my problems i have on the mental side:

1) weeks before a match, i would worry about the match
2) stress out when walking on court and sometimes choke (sometimes not)
3) struggle breathing due to tenseness
4) forget scores and make wrong shot selections out of desperation almost

I am tired of stressing over just a game. When i am relaxed, few people outrally me with pace...when they slow it down, i put the balls away...when i am not relaxed, i make the errors. I am basically my own worst enemy. Often, the game is won or lost in my warmup or even the first strike of a ball. I either feel on, or off totally random...and i have no clue as to which person of my "split personality" will show up on the court.

I want to be proactive as to preventing some of these things. For example, having a solid gameplan, may take my mind off of stressing? I have even gone as far as considering to take a small notepad with my general strategy and backup strategy...as well as even taking scores :|
One proactive measure i want to consider taking, is hitting before a match (aside from the normal pre warmup). I used to like the idea to save all my energy...but these days, i think hitting beforehand, may actually calm me down. Normally i am very fit, but my stress and breathing ratio, has sometimes tired me in even the first games....sometimes as late as set 2 my breathing recovers.

Please help me to clear this head of mine because there is far too much going on in it inbetween matches. I need proactive steps instead of prevention steps if you know what i mean...

Your problem is that you don't have a strong enough reason to compete and win.

Best thing to do is secretly hire somebody to kidnap your family and hold them hostage. If you don't win, the kidnapper will kill your family. Now, the kidnapper will not know that it is you that hire them so they'll really go through with it.

Now, you have a real reason to win and you know that you have place your family in grave danger so that you can motivate yourself to win a tennis match. This puts into the proper perspective just how important a tennis match is for you.

If you lose a match, quickly find yourself another family to take their place.

Best of luck to you.

mxmx
01-19-2012, 11:18 PM
I won this particular match, but nothing to write home about since he was 15 years my senior and was just relying on putting the ball back in play, nothing spectacular. But I am still glad I won or I would never hear the end of his friends' friendly disguised trash talks.

You did well beating the senior player. Old people should not be underestimated in tennis....they may not move as well or whatever...but they really have consistency most of the times as well as skills. You also did well by beating him while holding back. That has cost me before...

Previous two of similar "trash" talk matches against two other boastful players were more worth note taking. Outside, other people were more seriously taunting and we ended up playing for breakfast. Godammit, I initially lead 5-3 and served for the match but eventually lost 5-7 :(

Don't worry...I once played a match of 2-3 hours, having match point and losing. Missed one important stroke into the net. But i didn't mind losing as much that day as i normally do....because i played well. I should probably have won, but i was happy with how i played. I cannot stand losing having played badly against myself.

mxmx
01-19-2012, 11:25 PM
from my perspective i think you have a fear are afraid of losing.

you have to realice that winning is good but losing is good too because thats part of your training, it makes you see what you have to improve and if you see losing is not that bad.

i would recomend you to lose your next match on purpose, just keeping the ball in play, without any expectations.

normally people think that only by winning you improve but by losing you improve much more because that is part of your training and your evolution, i personally enjoy victory and defeat as i learn things from both.

and remember its not how many times you fall that matters, its about how many times you get back up

oh and here is a video, its a poem read by roger and rafa and im not posting it because they are in the video, its just the words that are in it, maybe it can help you with something

http://www.youtube.com/?rdm=4ozmbjq9r&reload=3#/watch?v=T2Udv9fXIIM

I like your advice...it makes sense. I will really try and take the desperation to win, and make it fun to play, win or lose instead.

ps. Did you give the correct link? does not seem so...

andry16
01-20-2012, 07:03 PM
try replace the www with an M

Ducker
01-21-2012, 06:53 PM
You are over senseitive to the pressure tennis is putting on you. Its common and just something that takes time to get over.

Let me suggest a game to help you.

Play games with your partner starting with 30 and you 0 for each game. Play frist to 10 games. Alternate who serves each game. And the winner receives 1-5-10 or whaver dollar amount you want, or buys lunch ect.