Trouble mixing social and competitive tennis?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by fe6250, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Anyone else notice that many people have trouble playing BOTH social and competitive tennis? No matter what the match 'should be' - some are purely social, others are purely competitive while many master the art of mixing both well.

    Can one develop in one area or the other or is it just your personality and you're stuck?
     
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  2. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I notice that all the time. Although most social tennis that I see, consists of people that still want to win. (unless there is a huge level disparity)

    That's the healthy way to look at it, if you can want to win, without crying about it if you lose, or having it ruin your entire life, then you can play social or competitive tennis. Either way it is a game after all, the whole point is to play your best and someone is going to win. (otherwise you might as well take a aerobic class together or something instead)

    If your not a bad sport, everyone agrees to follow the rules (without crying about them), and you treat the game in the respectful manner it was meant, then you can easily play socially and still play to win as well.

    But I see is that people who play indoors at my club get used to playing the same people over and over again, in the same place, and usually they dont play exactly by the same rules as a normal match on TV.

    So when you get them into a real match situation, in a lot of cases they cant handle it that well because they let the pressure get to them. A lot of times they are actually good players but they just dont have what it takes to get thru matches, because mentally they arent prepared for how to approach the game.
     
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  3. CAM178

    CAM178 Hall of Fame

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  4. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Javier - this is the type of player I'm referring to that can't handle the social element. One who does go overboard when things aren't going their way. Being a good sport while still being competitve is what I would refer to the ability to balance. The person who throws their raquet at the opposing player over cocktails....well they don't get invited back!

    I personally am on the competitive side, but experience (knowing that you win some and lose some and not to get too frustrated) and trying to be a good sport tend to make it work socially for me. Question is - can it be learned?
     
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  5. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Priceless! I had forgotten that scene! I do know one guy who keeps track of how many errors you make as his partner and then tells you during the match! That will test your 'nice' factor.
     
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  6. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    I've always been told to play your best in both social and competative tennis.

    Even in social tennis, people don't want to feel patronized if you are the better player, so play your best in a social situation and have fun, laugh, and enjoy.

    I'd just leave the "mean" part of your game at home for social settings - such as avoid trying to put the ball through the other player's chest and generally don't argue too much over line calls. Thowing up the "Vict" and yelling "Come On!" too much also doesn't go over to well in social tennis.
     
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  7. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    Had an Adult League captain who stated, "I play to WIN!" Social tennis, forgetaboutit.
     
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  8. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    At least he knows who he is! If I'm honest - social tennis to me is mixed doubles as in Men's were always pretty competitive...good sports, but competitive.
     
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  9. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    Yes, but level has to be taken into consideration. A 4.5 shows up for hit and giggles mixed doubles, possibly a meat (lol) and greet with a motley bunch of 3.0-3.5s shouldn't wail on everybody hitting serves and massive balls they've never seen before.

    Nobody wants that.
     
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  10. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Good point. I generally use mixed with lower level players as an opportunity to work on second serves and top spin lobs and leave the first serve and big forehands in the bag. If I'm playing people who can handle the pace or if 1 of them can - unload!
     
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  11. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    Well, like I said, leave the "mean" part of your game at home. I'd hit a winner if I have a wide open chance, but I"m not looking to kill the other people across the net. I"ll hit mainly spin serves, which I think some people have a harder time blocking back anyway, and avoid shots that might hit a player at the net who isn't ready for a pacy ball.

    I mean more like, don't dump balls into the net on purpose or moonball them while standing there looking bored. If you can put away a volley, put it away - if you get an overhead, don't kill anyone but put it away.

    But being a 3.5 player, I guess I don't have to worry about killing anyone with my shots.

    However, don't underestimate granny's will to win ;) - at this one tennis social, I end up playng with this one woman, she's always like "we are going to win." Sure I have to cover 80% of the court, but we have fun and I get to do a lot of running. sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.
     
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  12. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    How true that is! I've gotten some of my best exercise trying to help a relatively immobile player - reach their dreams of victory! Still it is all in good fun and can be enjoyable.
     
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  13. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    We all know who and how he is. It is all good when the going is great but when the going gets tough, the expletives fly like bats outa hell.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2008
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  14. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Oh - one of THOSE guys. Well - we all know one of them don't we?
     
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  15. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    It's sort of a personality trait for some people.

    Which is why there are probally people who have to go out of their way to make the game less competitive in order to have fun. That's the only way they can manage to adjust so they dont have to feel bad about losing.

    A lot of them probally get stressed out and upset about a lot of other things in their life as well (their job, family, etc....).

    The truth for me is though is if you are a well balanced person, who doesnt get upset, you can enjoy either game. In fact for many people if you want to win even in the competitive situation (league, tournament, etc....), you can actually have a better chance of winning, if you dont worry so much and just focus on playing your best anyway.

    (because if you are just out there thinking about the outcome, a lot of people tend to choke or let down when things arent going well in the match)

    But what happens to some people is when they water down their social match (which isnt too bad, usually it's still a measure of how well they play), but when they get in a real situation they treat it totally differently and they tense up.

    I believe that a lot of things that you see on the tennis court from people really have more to do with their attitude and their demeaner in general, as opposed to "something they need to learn while playing tennis".
     
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  16. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I believe that is the exception as well. If you start having a larger rating disparity, then you have to start to consider how the other team feels and what they can get out of it. (if you are doing it for social reasons)

    But if you did that all the time and those were the only matches you ever played, that definately wouldnt help you much for matchplay at your own level.

    The other interesting thing that I notice from this, is sometimes it seems that the better the player is, the more they can actually play down and give their opponents a match.

    A 4.0 may have to fight and go all out against 3.0's and 3.5's just to stay warmed up and so they dont get too tired. My friend is a 4.5 and when he plays me it's to the point where he has to chip it in the corner 2 inches off the ground, otherwise I'll at least make him work really hard to win every game.

    But Ive played higher level players, and you dont even always notice how good they are because they can pick a number of balls in their head that you are "allowed" to hit back and then they will win the point eventually.
     
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  17. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Javier - agree with all you're saying, but I do think there is something to just getting better AT tennis that helps people who may struggle a little (I'll concede that once a jerk - probably always a jerk). I mean if you are so frustrated with your game - it's hard for that frustration not to come through. As you improve and understand the ups and downs and to forget the last shot - you are naturally less frustrated and in turn dealing with one less thing. I think that can help someone.
     
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  18. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I actually ran into this situation in a tournament (competitive) even last summer.

    Our local rec department had a 3.5 and below tournament. Some of the players it turns out had just taken rec lessons and they were REALLY below 3.5.

    I lost my first match to a really good player, and won a match in the backdraw to get to the consolation semi's.

    My opponent was a 20 some year old "special needs" guy. He had his parents there and they explained to me what was up about him. He was a really nice, well kid (he seemed like he was about 13), and he was having a good time and he had actually won a match against some beginner to get to this point. Mostly because he had pretty decent hand eye coordination.

    My dilemna was that if I pulled back in this match, I knew I would get extra tired and I would have a tough opponent in the consolation round. So I figured I would go all out at first.

    My first serve was a doozy....almost seemed like it just blasted right by him before he even blinked, and I could hear his dad kind of grown "awwww...." in the stands. At this point I just felt like a complete and utter tool.

    So after that I decided to just use the contiental grip for everything (like Im feeding a drill), and I hit every single ball right back to him until he screwed up. Except if I fell behind in a game score, then I would take matters into my own hand to make sure I won the point, but not too drastically to make him feel bad.

    I still won 9-0 (pro set), and he actually had one winner on me that surprised me, and when it was done he told his dad "I didnt win any games but I think I played a lot better dad".

    I was dead tired from my next match (which was the 4th in one day), but it was tied at 5-5 when my opponent cramped up his leg and I won. It was a weird tournament......
     
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  19. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    You're probally right. On average 3.0 and 3.5 players are less consistant then 4.0 players, so that can be frustrating sometimes. (having such drastically good and bad days from day to day)

    But that's exactly why I think you're better off just playing every match to win. (keeping in mind that if you lose you wont cry about it, and you'll just play again) If you cant rise above that and learn how to deal with it objectively you're going to be in a lot of matches that you will automatically lose at some point. But a lot of people never figure that out so they have problems with that.

    I think for me if I am having a bad day and I AM the one who is screwing up, it's perfectly fine for me to get upset about it though. If the match is over and I know I didnt play my best, I usually dont get over that very easily. (and in signing up for tournament's, that's happened to me a million times, which is why I think about these things)

    But when you see people getting upset just because of how the scoreboard is going, or after their opponent makes a brillant point, I feel that's wrong. (and it's actually disrespectful to your opponent whether it's a competitive match or not)

    (so my point again is there isnt that much of a difference between the two forms of playing, if you treat them the right way)
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2008
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  20. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    I think you have it nailed there for the most part. Getting upset about losing isn't nearly the same as getting upset with how your playing. On the other hand - sometimes OTHER people don't notice the difference.
     
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  21. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    In my opinion, you handled this perfectly. No reason to lose. No reason to bring your most offensive game. Yet, no reason to alter your form or strokes, kind of like a match played in mini-tennis style. All form and footwork no pace.

    I would have said to myself, I'm going to focus on form, consistent, deep balls, and let the kid play. The points may have gone longer than I prefer since I like to attack the first weak ball I get (why think a weaker ball is ever coming?), but in this case, let the kid have some fun and enjoy the match for what it had to offer (no challenge from opponent, but a challenge to youself to hit with perfect form, making your targets really small and see how you do) and have some fun.

    The focusing on form, consistency, and depth would have been a good exercise for the next match that day anyway and you don't have to waste your body on big serves and swings.
     
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  22. tbini87

    tbini87 Hall of Fame

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    i think it can be learned... but it is tough to teach an old dog new tricks. i think some people can learn it, if they are open enough to see how they act, and are open to constructive criticism. others will refuse any such reality check, and they will probably never change. the people that won't change are the people i would simply avoid playing with.

    one day i was watching a guys doubles match at my local courts. one team forgot the set score, and a guy on the other team started cursing them telling them how stupid they are and how only idiots would forget the score. the man who was getting verbally abused simply left. as i was getting loose on the court next to them, the 3 others talked about the set score, and realized that the man who had done all the cursing was actually wrong!!! he apologized to the other 2, but i doubt he was man enough to the guy he actually insulted...
     
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  23. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    I have to agree with you here. Sometimes maturity, perspective and the general drive not to be a jerk - works with some people.

    That's a great example. I think the toughest cases are the really hot headed and the people who are so focused on the score / winning - they will try almost anything to win a match. Some common examples of the latter (for social tennis) include:

    - Unusual 'let' calls
    - Arguing about the score or line calls
    - Making calls on things like catching the ball behind the base line and minor foot faults

    You get the idea...
     
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  24. North

    North Professional

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    Interesting question from the OP. I never thought about it in those terms. What I have noticed, in contrasting social and competitive tennis, is the willingness to play by the rules.

    In social tennis, nobody calls even flagrant (eg: a foot or two inside the baseline) foot faults, almost every point where there is a disagreement about who gets the point is replayed even if the rules clearly would give the point to one player, and so on.

    In social tennis, there seems to be an unspoken expectation that you don't hit body serves, volleys, or smashes at your opponent, even if that is the only shot to win the point. People who make terrible line calls still make terrible line calls in social tennis, but the victims of those line calls don't feel as free to question the calls.
     
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  25. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    OK - last night I had a session of what I can only refer to as 'hit and giggle' tennis that my wife made me play with a bunch of other couples. It really was just cocktail tennis and dinner. People were completely over the top friendly and such which was appropriate for the format - but I can barely consider it tennis. Other than holding a racquet and knocking a ball back and forth over the net - it had no other resemblence to tennis.

    I can honestly say that I had a fun time with the other couples and it was a fun night out - but I didn't even break a sweat. NOW - if someone can't handle that situation without being competitive - we might have the makings of a good Jerry Springer episode!
     
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  26. North

    North Professional

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    Oh, no - "hit and giggle tennis". There is nothing even remotely competitive about it. Might as well call it something other than tennis - lol.
     
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  27. goober

    goober Legend

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    Yeah I tried that once. I call it extreme social tennis:) Couples and singles looking to hook up are chatting the whole time and taking alcoholic drinks on changeovers. Then there is a dinner and more drinking. It was interesting and fun on some level, but not even close to what I normally consider social tennis.
     
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  28. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Yeah - and to make it worse, while I play mostly doubles I like to hit with pace and push the net hard. So hitting lots of base line shots and covering lobs for my shorter and less mobile partners - is not something that is a normal part of my game plan. Oh well - I did get to drink a few beers WHILE I was playing and that is nice change!
     
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