Needing advice on jitters

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by aceroberts13, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. aceroberts13

    aceroberts13 Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    1,029
    Location:
    100 Miles Away; Ready to Strike
    I have been playing tennis about 4 years off and on. My groundstrokes are fairly good. My serve and technique are usually commented on as being nice (not bragging). But my jitters have just completely taken over my game. Its the worst in singles. I absolutely can't function sometimes in matches. I need advice on how to handle this. I'm pretty desperate because I am being beaten by worse players. My post on this comes from a string of losses in the local league I play in.

    My nervous problem has really become a serious problem with me enjoying tennis. Could guys/gals please offer me some advice on this? I'm pretty low, confidence wise from this. :(
     
    #1
  2. thehustler

    thehustler Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2004
    Messages:
    308
    I get nervous before every match I play in a league or tournament. Don't know why. I've won more than I've lost, I've won tournaments and I've won a majority of my league matches. Yet I'm always nervous...until I hit that first ball in the match. Then I'm good. I just stop worrying about whatever it is that's got me all nervous. I just start to focus on the ball, my footwork, my serve and how I'm going to play my opponent and then no more nerves. Good luck out there.
     
    #2
  3. tbini87

    tbini87 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Messages:
    2,543
    Location:
    Chico, CA
    i wish i had a magical solution, because i let jitters affect me from time to time also. i personally start feeling the jitters when i am getting defensive and tentitive with my shots. i am more worried about messing up than i am with hitting a good shot. same goes for the second serve. the second i start second guessing myself i tense up and play horribly.

    the only way i am able to combat it is going for my shots more. i don't aim for the lines... i give myself lots of margin for error, but really swing out and hit the ball the way i should. your muscles will be more relaxed and you will be playing your normal game once you get in the groove of hitting your shots in matches. if you hit it out you hit it out... go to the next point. i know it is easier said than done, and i don't know if my solution would work for you, but just some food for thought. good luck.

    p.s. i always feel better after a match that i really hit my shots in (win or lose) than i do after a match where i patty cacked and played like a whimp...
     
    #3
  4. chlsmo

    chlsmo Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Messages:
    521
    Location:
    So. Cal
    I know for myself (and not just with tennis in particular) when I become conscious of a bad habit especially a costly one say nervousness, I then fear that. So if you know that you will not play well when you are nervous, ie taking short breaths, moving slow, playing tight, etc etc, then you will also fear being nervous. So now instead of the normal tennis match jitters you are also aware of what that nervousness will cost you, which will usually make it even worse. * At least these have been my experiences.

    I don't think there is one particular thing that will expel this for you but here are a few of my suggestions.

    Try breathing and relaxation techniques (google em) * I learned them from a therapist

    Practice your tennis a little more so that you may have more confidence in your playing. Perhaps develop a "weapon" that you can fall back on.

    Work out more, basically for the same reasons as the above.

    Don't give yourself a reason to lose before you get there, EG not enough sleep, eating a heavy meal, not playing for week before you match etc. That's all you need bouncing around in your head. "Why did I drink a triple shot expresso before this match, now I probably won't concentrate right... so I won't get my first serves in then..."


    A lot of these things I have learned from preparing for tense situations in my non-tennis life. I am a musician and when I have had recitals/auditions/ or gigs, I have to make sure that the material could be done almost on autopilot, which in turn makes me more confident and less nervous. Also, as far as my music experience goes, I kind of got desensitized to the pressure of public performance. My tennis experience has been similar, the more competitive match experience I have had, the more comfortable I have become with it.

    Good luck!
     
    #4
  5. aceroberts13

    aceroberts13 Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    1,029
    Location:
    100 Miles Away; Ready to Strike
    Thanks for the advice, I mean this has become a very serious problem for me. Hopefully this summer my match experience can really get built up so that I won't feel these jitters as much anymore. Right now though it looks like I've got some struggling to do.
     
    #5
  6. chlsmo

    chlsmo Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Messages:
    521
    Location:
    So. Cal
    Well, if it makes you feel any better I lost my first match 0-6, 0-6 mostly due to nervousness but the 108 degree weather did not help either. :)
     
    #6
  7. aceroberts13

    aceroberts13 Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    1,029
    Location:
    100 Miles Away; Ready to Strike
    Ahh I've had my beatings too. I just really want to kick this. I don't enjoy dreading my league matches every week.
     
    #7
  8. ten10

    ten10 Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Messages:
    155
    I started playing 4 year ago too. Jitters have always been a problem for me (I play singles exclusively in USTA). Here are some things that have helped me in the past.

    1) remembering to breath--in AND out
    2) reminding myself of three things--focus, footwork, finish
    3) thinking that each time they made un enforced error that they might be just as "mental" as I was/am or more so
    4) not rushing my serve--especially my second serve
    4)--you might think I am a super dork here, but there is one person I enjoy playing against and practicing with more than any other person--and I'm always happy and relaxed playing her (and we play competitively and for keeps), she brings out the best in my game, so I imagine her on the other side of the net

    I came up with that last year and I swear it helped me move from 4.0 to 4.5

    I have had 5 matches so far at 4.5 and the jitters are worse than ever. It's cost me 2 matches including one yesterday when I won the first set handily and had 5 match points at 5-4 in the second. Lost 7-5 and then a super-tiebreaker. CHCHCCHoke!

    I do believe there are tons of us who have to settle into a match. You say you are getting beat by lesser players because of your nerves and jitters. That indicates that, in your opinion, they aren't "winning" the match, but rather you are losing the match. Don't give up. You can conquer those "inner" demons. You really can.
     
    #8
  9. D. Dokas

    D. Dokas Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    Messages:
    244
    remember tennis is also fu if ur not having fun by being stressed out over points then why are u playing? tennis is a game. dont judge ur shots by the points (30-0 down) go out and hit with wat uve learnt if that makes sence
     
    #9
  10. ten10

    ten10 Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Messages:
    155
    Another dorky suggestion--but I try to give the impression that I am very relaxed, confident and in control--I'm such a headcase maybe acting the part will convince me!!
     
    #10
  11. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Messages:
    961
    Location:
    In a cloud of yellow fuzz
    Focus on what you have to do to win each point exclusively. The rest falls away and your play elevates if you really do this.
     
    #11
  12. aceroberts13

    aceroberts13 Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    1,029
    Location:
    100 Miles Away; Ready to Strike
    Once again, thanks for all of the suggestions. I have an upcoming match on tuesda. I will post results. I hope I can start turning this around because I have captains asking me about being in the summer usta league coming up and I don't want to play poorly this summer.
     
    #12
  13. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    Messages:
    654
    Location:
    NC
    Nerves get to me once in awhile too - although I would say that if you have NO nerves out there, it is likely a bad thing (IMHO). Some things I do to help me:

    1 - Breathing (deep breaths) usually help
    2 - If it is really bad, I'll hum a tune in my head - sounds crazy but works for me.
    3 - Concentrate on the ball and the stroke - not the score, at least until you find your rhythym
    4 - Remember this isn't Iraq - we don't get paid for this and no one is going to die

    Usually by the 2nd or 3rd game - it's gone for me.
     
    #13
  14. k_liu

    k_liu Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    106
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    I have the same problem. I do the following things to help me relax:
    1) Take nice deep slow breathe;
    2) Visualize my shots (especially after i miss as shot);
    3) Tell myself this is just like practice and hit away; and
    4) Fotget about the previous point, focus on the point at hand and don't think about the next point.
     
    #14
  15. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2005
    Messages:
    2,792
    Location:
    Big Canoe, GA
    I think if you tried, you could put even MORE pressure on yourself - but it wouldn't be easy. You come across as if winning a silly little tennis match is the end of the world. How much self-esteme do you have tied up in this, anyway?

    We play tennis for FUN and EXERCISE. Sure, it's a little more fun to win - but give yourself a break. Go out, have fun, hit the ball with some pace, and see what happens. You may win, you may not. Chances are your opponent is just as nervous as you are.

    Do you play practice matches? Matches that don't matter a hoot whether you win or lose? Do you get the jitters in those? If you can play practice matches without the jitters, then just consider EVERY match a practice match. And isn't every match just practice for the next match?
     
    #15
  16. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    Messages:
    487
    Location:
    NW Ohio
    aceroberts13,
    A couple things I would suggest but in general their are no real shortcuts other than experience. First try to relax and consciously breathe. Develop a routine, when serving and returning. Why? Routine is constant and comfortable. The tennis will come without conscious thought if you let it. There is a reason we bounce the ball and breathe a couple of times and relax our arms prior to serving. Removing the tension is the goal. Tension and tightness constricts your strokes. When in the point, play conservatively and keep it deep and in play. Enjoy the process. Forget about the score and enjoy the process and absurdity of hitting a fuzzy yellow ball into a box. Just play and who cares what happens. It should help you relax.

    Good Luck.

    TM
     
    #16
  17. swimntennis

    swimntennis Guest

    Like many have already said, just go out and have fun. You're not planning on going pro and you're not making a living off of tennis. There are really no serious consequences for losing at tennis, so don't worry about the score! Just play your game and try to enjoy it as much as possible.
     
    #17
  18. nickarnold2000

    nickarnold2000 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,611
    Everyone gets nervous from the world #1 all the down to the local hacker - the trick is to make it work for you. Brad Gilbert's book "Winning Ugly" explains this very well. He talks about bouncing on your toes, concentrating on the ball and not rushing into points. Get the book; it's a must read for all players.
    Practise also makes perfect - the more tournaments you play the easier it gets.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2008
    #18

Share This Page