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View Full Version : how to become mental tough?


andreroddick155
09-24-2005, 02:58 PM
i have been having a hard time being mentally tough. My coach told me i need to pick it up and find out whats wrong. Does anyone know any tips for mental toughness, i need help. For example, i can hit baskets of balls hard and deep all the time, but when it comes to rallying with my coach, i play like i havent played before. Is it the way i practice? Am i supposed to practice consistency when balls instead of hard?

SageOfDeath
09-24-2005, 03:02 PM
always practice consistancy, you mean to tell me when you hit a basket of balls all you do is try to kill the ball? How long have you been playing?

andreroddick155
09-24-2005, 03:07 PM
about 3 years, when i practice, yes i try to kill the ball, is that wrong? IF so , is that why i cant hit deep balls without little pace? PLEASE REPLY

PM_
09-24-2005, 03:57 PM
deleted 10 char

Marius_Hancu
09-24-2005, 05:29 PM
about 3 years, when i practice, yes i try to kill the ball, is that wrong? IF so , is that why i cant hit deep balls without little pace? PLEASE REPLY

difficult to improve when you're killing the ball because you're at your limit there and thus to some extent out of control.

get down to 70-80% and start to think about control and finesse.

erik-the-red
09-24-2005, 06:48 PM
While I respect Marius's advice, I have to say that I disagree somewhat.

I think the approach by Borg, Agassi, and the Williams Sisters is correct. Just hit the ball as hard as you can at first. If you want to add control later, you will "unlearn" less than if you start out with control first, and then power.

I regret not having taken this route in the beginning after one painful, painful loss to a pusher.

nViATi
09-24-2005, 08:53 PM
While I respect Marius's advice, I have to say that I disagree somewhat.

I think the approach by Borg, Agassi, and the Williams Sisters is correct. Just hit the ball as hard as you can at first. If you want to add control later, you will "unlearn" less than if you start out with control first, and then power.

I regret not having taken this route in the beginning after one painful, painful loss to a pusher.
no way. First you learn to keep the ball in the court, then you learn to aim it aroundk, and then you learn how to hit it faster.
consistency is KEY!

GrahamIsSuper
09-24-2005, 09:21 PM
While I respect Marius's advice, I have to say that I disagree somewhat.

I think the approach by Borg, Agassi, and the Williams Sisters is correct. Just hit the ball as hard as you can at first. If you want to add control later, you will "unlearn" less than if you start out with control first, and then power.

I regret not having taken this route in the beginning after one painful, painful loss to a pusher.


Lol, that's not a good thing. Look at any little person who thinks they can ball, but is just starting. They try and kill it every shot and it goes backwards half the time. Control/form first, power comes naturally.

Koaske
09-24-2005, 10:35 PM
Lol, that's not a good thing. Look at any little person who thinks they can ball, but is just starting. They try and kill it every shot and it goes backwards half the time. Control/form first, power comes naturally.

Yea, learning good form before trying to go for killer shots is important. It's not good to get hurt because of bad form. Consistency always comes before power, no matter what the stroke.

SageOfDeath
09-24-2005, 11:33 PM
While I respect Marius's advice, I have to say that I disagree somewhat.

I think the approach by Borg, Agassi, and the Williams Sisters is correct. Just hit the ball as hard as you can at first. If you want to add control later, you will "unlearn" less than if you start out with control first, and then power.

I regret not having taken this route in the beginning after one painful, painful loss to a pusher.

No you are wrong did you even read his post? he can't keep up a rally. And he's been "hitting as hard as you can" for 3 years.

Consistancy above all.

And define pusher, to me pushers are people who just consistantly get the ball back in play with less pace. If you can't beat pushers either your gameplan or your consistancy is flawed.

ucd_ace
09-24-2005, 11:50 PM
I think the best way to improve mental toughness is to play a lot of matches. Your problem sounds a lot more technical though. If you're trying to hit the ball deep with little pace and can't do it, then it's not because you're not mentally tough, it's because something is wrong with your game. You have to practice what you want to do in matches; you can't just expect it to be there.

If you learn how to hit the ball right first while focussing on consistency, there isn't anything you have really unlearn to hit the ball hard. In general, I think you should practice about 80-90% on consistency and the last bit on power depending on you skill level and your game. In your case, it'd be 90% consistency since I'm guessing you've learned how to hit the ball hard by now.

ShooterMcMarco
09-25-2005, 12:09 AM
you should read BG's book winning ugly, a lot of helpful info in there. in men's journal, they had an article where they talk about alex rodriguez sport psychologist, Jim Fannin. he said to keep your jaw loose when you play (sampras did this too, stuck his tongue out once in a while), and to calm yourself down, put your chin down for a little then raise it again. also deep breathing for 30 secs with your hand on your stomach, feeling your hand go up and down with each breath. he mentioned that if you shank a shot, you either forget about it or visualize the shot doing what it was supposed to. The book he wrote is called "Sports in the Zone." The program is called S.C.O.R.E. Fannin talks about how athletes who are mentally tough think less when they are performing at the top of their games. The average human has around 2500 thoughts per day whereas an athlete has around 1500. its very interesting stuff, he even has a cd thats dedicated to tennis. http://zonecoach.com/Section-SportsSolutions.asp#

erik-the-red
09-25-2005, 08:12 AM
I'm glad three people have responded to my post. Thanks!

no way. First you learn to keep the ball in the court, then you learn to aim it aroundk, and then you learn how to hit it faster.
consistency is KEY!

Borg in his book, My Life and Game gives his opinions on tennis instruction. He states that power first may be better because you unlearn less. Agassi turned pro before I was born, so I of course don't remember his first days on tour. But, nobody doubts that even as a sixteen-year old he hit the ball HARD.

During the U.S. Open final, I saw a five second home video of him practicing as a kid. I'm sure you saw this too if you watched the final on CBS. It was obvious that he was not "massaging" the ball. He was whacking as hard as he could! And he was probably just eight years old!

Look, I'm not saying that consistency is not key. I'm just saying that if you start with the control frame of mind then you will have a mental block that prevents you from wanting to hit harder later.

Lol, that's not a good thing. Look at any little person who thinks they can ball, but is just starting. They try and kill it every shot and it goes backwards half the time. Control/form first, power comes naturally.

I agree with you partially. Form is very important. But, once you have an idea of what to do, keep that in mind and make sure your form is correct while hitting as hard as you can. Have you ever seen some players who have played for a few months under this standardized instruction of "control first, power later?" When they set up their strokes, everything looks right. Then, when they hit it, you're like, "What happened?" They don't hit hard at all. They just brush the ball with no desire to hit hard.

No you are wrong did you even read his post? he can't keep up a rally. And he's been "hitting as hard as you can" for 3 years.

Consistancy above all.

And define pusher, to me pushers are people who just consistantly get the ball back in play with less pace. If you can't beat pushers either your gameplan or your consistancy is flawed.

I think you were a bit rude to me. What was the point of attacking me personally?

A flaw with the "consistency above all" mantra is that if you face a pusher, then you will actually have the tendency to push back. Why do you think there are so many threads here asking how to handle pushers? It's because unless you have the correct mindset in facing them you'll lose.

I think the records of Borg, Agassi, and The Williams Sisters speak for themselves. I never said anything about form not being important or consistency not being important. I just said that at first try to hit as hard as you can. If you don't, you'll have a mental block when you try to hit hard later.

SageOfDeath
09-25-2005, 11:07 AM
I think you were a bit rude to me. What was the point of attacking me personally?

A flaw with the "consistency above all" mantra is that if you face a pusher, then you will actually have the tendency to push back. Why do you think there are so many threads here asking how to handle pushers? It's because unless you have the correct mindset in facing them you'll lose.

I think the records of Borg, Agassi, and The Williams Sisters speak for themselves. I never said anything about form not being important or consistency not being important. I just said that at first try to hit as hard as you can. If you don't, you'll have a mental block when you try to hit hard later.

Sorry I did not mean to be rude. And as he's said he has been trying to hit as hard as he can so it would be a good time to incorporate consistancy yes? There are 2 ways to lose against pushers.

1. Is to push back and play their game
2. Is to try to hit too many winners and then you make unforced errors

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=63706&highlight=pusher

So against a pusher you need to choose when to hit a winner, hit crosscourt, dtl, then on a short ball hit a winner. If you just try to kill the ball agaisnt a pusher it won't work.

Marius_Hancu
09-25-2005, 11:12 AM
There are 2 ways to lose against pushers.

1. Is to push back and play their game
2. Is to try to hit too many winners and then you make unforced errors[/url]


Both are valid:-)
The curious might check my posting in Sticky on beating a pusher, has lots of interesting threads.

erik-the-red
09-25-2005, 12:09 PM
It's alright, Sage :)

Yeah, for the OP, work on consistency since you are NOT afraid to hit out. Best of luck!

Clayplay
09-26-2005, 08:57 PM
i also think that power goes first and then consistensy. that way you'll learn to play agressivley and not safe. playing safe can lead to choking because you're hitting so many balls that your opponent will return, and you're also likely to hit it short and then your opponent can attack. you also have to know when to play agressive, sometimes being deffensive is better than trying to smack winners out of nowhere.

Clayplay
09-26-2005, 08:59 PM
overall i believe that good mental toughness is about getting out of your comfort zone and thinking about performance.

dakels
09-26-2005, 10:13 PM
Hitting feeds and hitting in a game are of course extremely different not only mentally but physically. Basket feeds are generally flat dependable shots mostly for getting your mechanics down. Rallying and game play help incorporate those learned strokes into all different types of situations.

If you break down on rally's with any person not just your coach, then it's probably not just a mental aspect. You probably need more experience hitting your comfort shots against different types of balls during a rally. If you only break down while playing your coach then it may be mostly mental but not definitely. Maybe your coach plays a certain way that is not comfortable for you such as heavy spin or flat or slicing shots?

If you can play others well that have the same playstyle of your coach but you just break down with your coach then you probably are right, you need to work on your mental toughness. Many drills you can do, many different opinions and aspects of approach on the matter. End result would hopefully be you regaining focus and composure able to confidently swing your full swing and hit the shots you intend to.

One of the most basic things to do is to just slow your swing down. This doesnt mean choking the swing and restricting your movements. Keep your long swing and stay loose. Try to relax and swing through the shots but don't try to overhit. Remember the fundamentals and focus on what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong and try to correct on that. Always stay on your toes and give yourself alot of time with early preparation. Sometimes people like to overhit to loosen up, this can work for you as well. Whatever works for you to regain some composure and focus.

Mental toughness is mostly about focus. Focusing on purely the game, the movement, the shot and being able to hit the shots you are able to hit while completely relaxed. Everyone has a different way of getting their focus, some methods work for others, while the same may make another fall apart. For example even something like getting upset and yelling. John McEnroe was able to find focus and desire to win from this allowing him to up his game most of the time while others who lose their composure is a sign of their inevitable demise. Some people slow their game down, some like Agassi like to speed it up. Many players talk to themselves. Some silently get their strokes back. All these methods work for some but not for all. You need to find what works for you. You need to find your "happy place".

BTW I think your coach should help you regain composure and not just tell you to find "mental toughness". It's up to your coach to... coach you and not just instruct. It's part of his job to help mentally encourage his players to bring their game up when needed. Even some things we may view as harsh like yelling and excess pressure can be good to keep a player tough and focused. Many coaches use harsh tones for that reason and not just because they are angry guys who just want to win. Most players (not all) respond well to an aggressive coach moreso then a nice guy offering you an ice cream after you played badly. Hopefully the coach will excercise pressure with drills and workouts which they feel will help you as a player.

amethystium2
09-27-2005, 10:23 AM
I agree with ucd_ace, that by playing a lot of matches you will learn to be mental tough. However, it's not the only thing. You have to educate yourself by reading books like those suggested here in some of the replies. one book that helped me a lot was inner game of tennis by Timothy Gallway, who wrote about this exact example you mentioned in your first post, where you are great in practice but fail in regular play against an opponent. Becoming mental tough is not an easy road. I remember I became mental tough against 30 players that I played 5+ times with each. However, when I met a new person, I was not so tough. I believe becoming mental tough has a lot to do with who you are, if you find yourself nervous in different situations, it will be harder to become mentally tough in sports. Good luck and dont give up.