How to overcome my mental block?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by AgassiFan12, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. AgassiFan12

    AgassiFan12 New User

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    Okay, so I played high school tennis (about 10 years ago) at a pretty good school and whenever I was nervous I played way better and it didn't bother me.

    Now whenever I play in a tournament, or someone that isn't a usual hitting partner I play scared and nervous for a majority of the match. It usually ends up in very frustrating loss because I know I can play way better. My problem is that I am scared to really hit out which causes me to actually hit the ball out more and my serve subsequently begins to suffer.

    I don't have a ton of time to get good match play in so simply going out and playing, playing, playing isn't an option to get over these nerves.

    Does anyone have any tips or ideas on how I can get through this? It frustrates me to no end. I want to be able to play my game and beat the people I should beat and give everyone else a good match. Thanks for the help.
     
    #1
  2. Raiden.Kaminari

    Raiden.Kaminari Semi-Pro

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    Here's the steps I usually take.

    Step 1. Hit the ball as hard as you can and as far out as you possibly can.
    Step 2. Laugh
    Step 3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the queasiness goes away.

    The problem is you're dying from water torture if you think you're going to hit it out, without actually hitting out. On the next ball, you're thinking, "boy, was that lucky, let's make sure this ball goes in." By hitting the ball out and the hardest possible, it starts training the brain to think, "now that's hitting the ball out; anything less will be in." And when you laugh at the ball going out, that usually helps you relax (thus, reducing your fear).

    Of course, the dangerous part is if after a few games, when this doesn't remove the fear. The good news, is that I usually find that it does within a game.
     
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  3. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    This aspect of tennis is different for every one. You need to try and examine your "self talk" during a nervous match, and then change that self talk to something that better fits in with your game. It helps to tell yourself something positive to do, rather than telling yourself what not to do. Also, it helps to let go of the notion of winning or losing and think about playing good points. Come up with some scripted plays and try to execute them. There are lots of things to try, but you will have to figure out what works for you.
     
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  4. LoveThisGame

    LoveThisGame Professional

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    Decide where you want to hit the ball, based on the various factors in your's and you opponent's game. It takes a bit of time before the point starts (if he hits it to my BH, I'm going to ... I'm serving it wide to the deuce court so if he goes down the line, I will do X; if he goes cross court, I will do Y) and when the ball is in play. The thoughts (this is what I'm going to do) are positive ones.

    Start out the match, including warmup, by not swinging hard at the ball but trying to keep depth (another targeting). Balls WILL go in. You may even learn that there are only a few times in a match when one hits as strongly as possible.

    Remember split stepping and getting the shoulder turned as soon as possible.

    Targeting, hitting under control, and preparation will lead you to playing well.
     
    #4
  5. AgassiFan12

    AgassiFan12 New User

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    Thanks for the help so far. I will certainly try some of these techniques. I think so far I find the first response to fit "me" the most. I think that if I decide to in the first game or two to just go for my shots (not necessarily hit as hard and as far out as possible) but just really hit my shots it will help me gauge where I am at, while relaxing me and getting some of the bugs out.

    But, I also think that really thinking out scenarios that if he returns down the line I will do x...etc will be really good. Because doing that will take my overthinking and worrying and allow me to focus on the task and not what may go wrong.

    I am still open to advice. I cannot wait until my next match now so I can try to calm my nerves.
     
    #5
  6. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Easiest way to take nerves out of the equation is to focus all of your attention on the ball. Try as hard as possible to watch the ball as closely as possible (we can't really watch it onto the strings but that's what you aim for) on every shot you hit and watch it closely coming off your opponents racquet. We are supposed to keep our eye on the ball so you'll end up hitting a better shot AND, by concentrating on the ball alone, you'll find everything else starts to fade out of the picture. Your mind will be intent on watching the ball so it can't get caught up thinking about other things. If your mind is engaged then you will not experience nerves. Easy and it works for all sports because, ultimately, that's all ball sports are about (the ball, not you).
     
    #6
  7. Tchocky

    Tchocky Hall of Fame

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    #7
  8. Raiden.Kaminari

    Raiden.Kaminari Semi-Pro

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    That's a classic book :)

    But I also like Vic Braden's book.
     
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  9. Joeyg

    Joeyg Semi-Pro

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    Do yourself a favor and concentrate on just moving your feet. If you could see how many players get tight and stop moving, you would be shocked. Lots of little steps and make sure you move to set up each and every shot. I think you will start to see an improvement immediately.
     
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