How do you find consistency day in day out?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Legend of Borg, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. Legend of Borg

    Legend of Borg Legend

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    So maybe this is the million dollar question but after tonight I felt a need to post a thread on this.

    I've noticed a trend in the last few years. I take 3 months off in the winter, come back in the spring and play ON FIRE for maybe couple weeks then go back to a really mediocre level with flashes of brilliance which only remind me of what I'm capable of.

    It just drives me INSANE when I know I can play 10 times better than what happens.

    • Silly errors, shots I would have made in my sleep before are now just inches out.

    • 1-2 double faults then an ace on the 4th serve in the very same game.

    • Wild unexplainable forehands/backhands with **** poor technique and then the next forehand is a scorching winner crosscourt.

    • Volley putaways being botched up badly then half-volley drop shot winner on the next point

    Stuff like this. Zero consistency or solid play. Wild points, good winners from time to time and REALLY bad errors.

    My question is, how do you rekindle your FOCUS and find that zone where you're playing up to your potential?

    How do you recover from bad points in general?
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    From your post, it appears you are trying to do too much and hit too hard for your given tennis conditioning and match play conditioning.
    If you don't play regularly, don't expect to hit any of your best shots.
    If you seek consistency, you need to BACK OFF the pace, spin, angles of your practice sessions to maybe 80% level, if inconsistency is your problem.
    There ARE some players who play just like they practice, as they practiced their inconsistencies and misses during practice, and know they will miss a few, hit a few, and hope the percentages are in their favor.
    You appear to at least be aware of your inconsistency issues, and would like to improve your percentage play.
     
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  3. Legend of Borg

    Legend of Borg Legend

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    So hit at a lower level during practice? Like slow down is that what you're getting at?
     
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  4. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    You work on your consistency during practice sessions. You groove your strokes and work the kinks out.

    Watch the pros in their practice sessions. They aren't trying to put the ball away on each other. They also aren't hitting anywhere near 100%.
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I don't believe it's an either or.
    Rather, it's BOTH, you practice hitting consistent at 80%, but you also practice hitting 105%, going for the shots, not necessarily going for winners.
    How do you know what your limits are unless you hit just over 100%?
    How can you be consistent if you only hit hard for the corners?
    BOTH.
    Start slow, slowly increase pace, angle, swingspeed as you warm up.
     
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  6. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    Well, you do that 100% stuff in practice points or after both players feel up to speed on consistency. That's in the pro practice videos too.
     
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  7. Legend of Borg

    Legend of Borg Legend

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    OK I think I'm getting what you're both saying.

    Start slow build up to it but also go for some shots in practice.

    Trust me, I know what it means to go for shots it's probably the main problem for me.

    Too much going for my limits...
     
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  8. SouthboundAgain

    SouthboundAgain Rookie

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    Sounds like a confidence/mental problem to me? Obviously you don't have a fundamental flaw in your strokes, because some days everything goes right for you.

    I have also observed the same pattern as you. Sometimes when I take some time off and come back, I expect to be rusty but because I feel like I have nothing to lose, I play out of my mind.

    I make silly errors when I play with fear (example: an easy high forehand volley where I'm thinking in my mind "Please don't blow this one it's so easy" even before hitting the shot). When my mind is clear and I'm not overthinking, I make the shot naturally.
     
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  9. Legend of Borg

    Legend of Borg Legend

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    Yeeees....

    My friend I think you've nailed it or are a lot closer to the truth.

    When you mentioned that phrase "Please don't blow this one it's so easy" I can relate to this 100%.

    Most of the missed shots are hit with half a heart if that makes any sense.

    They're hit more for damage control rather than to win the point or to "enjoy the game" as I often do when I play lights out.

    You've just reminded me I have a copy of "Playing the Inner Game of Tennis" by Timothy Gallway which is basically part 2 of "Inner Game of Tennis" with practical applications.

    Guess which book I'm reading over the weekend.
     
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  10. Legend of Borg

    Legend of Borg Legend

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    Now that I think about it, this low-level low confidence/mind game is something I notice in all aspects of my life.

    Periods of brilliance with mostly underachievement.....

    Mostly death by analysis.
     
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  11. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    Related to this, I have been working on just getting all my strokes consistent with decent technique, and over the winter have played social tennis but not matches, so what I focus on is just not missing.

    I dont mean bunting everything back, but just playing solid shots all the time, within my skill level and capability, and cut out errors.

    Of course if there is a chance to pressure a point, i will do it, but again with a steady forcing shot that builds up the pressure rather than outright winners necessarily.

    My coach told me to set goals, eg when warming up, just dont miss a stroke, focus on the simple technique that you know, hit a simple, solid shot and try not to miss and see how long till you make an error.

    In social games I do the same, I have been counting how many errors I make, and I am normally happy if in a set I make say around 6-8 (in doubles) and if I go several games without making an error, it pleases me and gives me more confidence.

    For me this works well, I work on a good solid stroke with decent technique, also realising that most of the time at our level it is errors that decide matches.

    BTW I am naturally an aggressive player, I like to go for my strokes and win, and I have found that having more consistency actually helps my shot selection, I now wait a little before pulling the trigger and it works out much better for me.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
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  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Don't feel bad, Legend of Borg...
    Lots of us hackers are in the same boat. We know your pain.
    Unfullfilled potential, always hanging over our heads.
     
    #12
  13. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Prog,

    Just curious..you have a coach and you still have to make your own goal?

    I thought coaches usually devise a system for their students to follow.
     
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  14. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    hey user, how do you mean exactly? My coach normally gives me my goals - normally he gives me the framework, like one week it was "Do not miss a volley, don't focus on hitting winners of it", another week it was when both opponents are at net, only hit down the middle, another was not to miss an overhead for 2 weeks etc

    The errors thing, he said, cut them out and count how many you do each set, he never set me a target specifically.

    He tends to guide also, he tells me when he is rallying or doing drills, it can get dull (he was careful to say with other students and not me, which was polite of him) so he sets his own goals eg never miss before your student, go through a whole basket without an error etc, and he lets me make my mind up what to take from that. I quite like that approach, he gives me frameworks and ideas and i take from them what I think suits me.

    For the strokes it is a different thing of course he tells me what to do and I try to do it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
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  15. nadalfanimal

    nadalfanimal New User

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    'winning edge' summarized about this topic is basically about knowing where the racket head is throughout the stroke...this is most important as as timing racket face to the ball is essentially what tennis is all about. my second opinion is that pre visualization the target prior to hitting is critical ..mcenroe claimed to do this is method.
     
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  16. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    Very easy to think it's just or mostly the mind that's the cause of inconsistency but how would you plan to fix that? Think differently? Changing mind is even more difficult than changing your physical control of your actions like the technique. Such way of thinking is rarely fruitful.

    Keep focusing on your technique. There are things that you haven't realized before that you should be able to improve. Continue to recognize those is the way to improve further. Better technique and execution will boost your mind/confidence later but without physical and technical improvement it's difficult to back up your control of your mind.
     
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  17. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I focus on 2 main things in every warm up...

    First is to work hard for good position to receive the incoming ball and the second is a lot of focus/awareness on working for great contact.
     
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  18. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    I don't.
    Most people I have known who can be consistent day in and day out have very solid simple strokes. The more complicated the stroke, the more likely something can go wrong.
    If something can go wrong, it will.
     
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  19. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Funny I focus on the same exact two things. I feel I need to see the ball coming to me in a certain pattern in synch with my preparation. Then, I need to make solid contact literally. Topspin and placement can be just ball park, not important yet. They are very easy for me to dial in once I establish a sense of ball movement and the feel of the ball impact on my racket.
     
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  20. Sir Shankalot

    Sir Shankalot Rookie

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    OP,

    Great post. This is indeed the million dollar question.

    This loss of consistency happens to me often, both in matches and in practice. What I try to do to get back into the zone is:

    1. Focus on keeping the head still, before, during and after contact. This is so key. When I do this I automatically start defending the contact point better, and also balance and footwork seems to get better. But I don't think consciously about those things, I just think "keep your head still" and good things start to happen.
    2. Dial it back a bit. Instead of hitting 80% effort on a rally ball, I dial it back to 70%. If things are still not working, dial it back further to 60%. Once things start working properly then gradually start dialling it up again.

    Of course, this doesn't always work. Some days I'm just plain off my game. But a lot of the time, focussing on these two simple things can really help restore order.
     
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  21. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    Consistency is doing the same stuff day in and day out. You can't expect to be consistent if you don't practice often.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Love this thread....
    Wed was serving about 75% first serves, and hitting spots on seconds.
    Today, 0% first serves, in 4 doubles sets, my normal one double fault, and I couldn't hit a rhino on the opposing court if it was standing at the net.
    I deliberately mentioned nothing about Wed., knowing today was going to happen.
     
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  23. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I see. Your arrangement is certainly interesting to me.
    I always imagine that it's hard enough for students to concentrate on doing, goals and directions and measurements have to be done by the coach.

    Would it be simpler if a coach sets up a bar and ways to measure progress, you just need to focus on reaching that performance? Coach needs to figure out your problems in general, your problems against certain opponents, offer you (his) solutions and have you do exactly that in a match. I tend to simplify a match to a competition of performances. If you can run a bit faster, hit a bit more consistent than an opponent, you should come out ahead, no?
     
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  24. Legend of Borg

    Legend of Borg Legend

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    No, thinking is what gets you into the mess.

    When you play in the zone or you play very well, do you micro-manage every movement?

    Do you execute every single muscle contraction?

    No you don't.

    You play as if you "did not have a mind".

    If this is too "out there" for you read Inner Game of Tennis AND it's follow up Playing the Inner Game of Tennis.
     
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  25. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    I like things very simple, every single stroke of mine can be improved, so I have an idea of what is holding me back (even if its mentally) and we work on it. This particular coach - his personal mantra is consistency, and other coaches encourage students to hit out more i think. I prefer consistency, because my natural game is aggressive. If I improve each of the strokes that I feel are holding me back, I improve, and it gives me a great mental lift and in fact really improves my performance on court because of the leap in confidence it gives me.

    I take about one lesson a month, I take away some pointers he gives me and put them into practice in between lessons.
     
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  26. Legend of Borg

    Legend of Borg Legend

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    4 hours worth of matches today, good start.

    Followed the advice on the thread slowed things down.

    Much greater consistency although still can't really go into the "zone" at will.

    Very difficult to truly let go.
     
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  27. colowhisper

    colowhisper Semi-Pro

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    This is a great thread, very interesting ideas. I think it's important not to get too down on yourself. Everybody has a bad day once in awhile for all kinds of reasons - what you had for breakfast, how well you slept, mind on work, etc. So see it for what it is, just a bad day and come back next time with fresh mind.

    On another note, I found a different way to practice over the winter that was surprisingly productive for me. I met a new hitting partner and the last thing we did every session was the "red line" drill. We played random points but went all out on our shots, with no regard for making errors. Whoever had the balls served, we didn't track the score, and we just hit as hard as we can going for broke trying to hit winners. I was amazed at how my body "let go" in these moments and how well we both played.

    The reason I found to be productive is teaching my mind and body what it feels like (during points, not just hitting) to not think mechanically at all and only focus on the adrenaline of going for shots. It obviously does not translate directly to match play' but it does help and I can summon that feeling in key points during matches more often now than before.

    This is obviously the opposite of much of the advice so far here to back off to 70-80% for consistency, but going to the other extreme may be helpful too for the mental side. Try it!
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2014
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  28. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    a) Have you read the "Inner game of tennis"? Specifically don't think about technique etc during the shot, but just watch the striations of the ball?
    Focus on breathing between points.

    b) Also if you stay with your eyes at contact point, through the contact help with watching the ball and makes one more relaxed (the main benefit being of course consistency). Measure this by not seeing a ball hitting the net, but instead hearing it (watch the court with your shoulder).

    c) I bet you have weapons (say FH etc)so like Djokovic have the confidence that your deep, penetrating shots will push your opponent back.

    d) If you manage to become a great defender/mover as well, even better for you, b/c then you can wait patiently for a chance to attack a shorter ball etc.
     
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  29. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Exactly, some of the first things that came to my mind.
     
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  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    LOVE this thread...
    Since it's inception, I've gone from 75% first serves to basically zero, and now my ROS is a total mishit, and also some angle putaways!
    Can't wait for tomorrow! :):)
     
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