What mental concept dramatically helped your game, once you got it?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Taxvictim, May 15, 2007.

  1. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    There's another thread about what one thing really helped your game, but the options are all tangible actions, such as reading books or taking lessons.

    Here's a twist: what mental concept dramatically helped your game once you "got it"? For example, my backhand improved tremendously recently when I started to think of "pulling" the racket instead of pushing it.

    Can you think of a time you suddenly figured something out? Maybe something you heard a million times, but it never helped you until that day on the court when a light bulb went on inside your head?

    Tony Robbins says the way to improve quickly is to copy not only the physiology of a successful person, but also his belief system. So what beliefs, thoughts, or ideas made you a better player?
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2007
    #1
  2. Solat

    Solat Professional

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    when i changed my game plan from hitting winners to forcing errors
     
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  3. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    That doubles is more about hitting the ball low over the net rather than hard over the net.
     
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  4. lordmanji

    lordmanji Guest

    "be aggressive."
     
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  5. crazysoccer00

    crazysoccer00 Rookie

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    "Watch the Ball"
    I never quite understood the importance of it.
    But during last match I actually tried doing that and I could return serves much better and my ground strokes improved so much I was quite surprised
     
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  6. str33t

    str33t Professional

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    That I'd rather lose playing hard and going for my shots than lowering myself to my opponent's level.
     
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  7. chris1992

    chris1992 Semi-Pro

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    flicking my wrist on the forehand and concentrating on making the ball rise over the basline rather than just hitting all out.
     
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  8. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Play your way through a match...

    ...don't think your way through a match. In that vein, one of my coaches, who is an Aussie and played on the ATP, said "Play the ball, not your opponent." Or, as one of the other Aussies said, some years ago, vis a vis Inner Tennis, "You play tennis on the court, not in your head."
     
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  9. johnny ballgame

    johnny ballgame Professional

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    One point at a time, one shot at a time. Before, I couldn't help but think "3 more points" if I was up 5-2, 15-0 or something like that. That screwed me up I think. Now, I'm constantly reminding myself to just focus on the task at hand: the next point, the next ball.

    Calm but focused, that's my mantra.
     
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  10. I always remind myself: "smooth = power". Swinging faster doesn't necessarily mean you hit harder.

    On 1-H backhand I always remind myself to stay sideways and not open up my shoulders and body. Helps me keep from spraying the ball and mishitting off the frame.
     
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  11. Robbnc

    Robbnc Rookie

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    Stay loose.....have fun!
     
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  12. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    Tennis is a game of errors. Consistency wins.
     
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  13. atatu

    atatu Hall of Fame

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    I'd say you're the exception to the rule. Most people who adopt this mantra don't get better, they lose all the time to more consistent players then say "oh well...I'd rather lose than...."

    For me, it was the realization that griding out a tennis match isn't that difficult mentally. I was always weak mentally, then when I studied for the bar exam one summer I came back and thought "this is easy" and improved a lot.
     
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  14. sapient007

    sapient007 Semi-Pro

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    don't under estimate. even if the other player looks like shiet during warm ups doesn't mean he/she can't whip your butt
     
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  15. stnick

    stnick New User

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    1) slow down and play deliberately and relaxed, controlling the pace,
    2) to focus on the next point, not the last mistake, which channels my competitiveness in a positive direction. The key to this, I've found, is to understand the last mistake as not a mistake at all, but just another repetition in the long slow trial-and-error process of improving in tennis- it takes thousands and thousands and thousands of repetitions, of errors and successes to "groove" your game.
     
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  16. 103xStateChamp

    103xStateChamp Rookie

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    1. Don't try to hit extra hard serves when hot girls walk past your court. :)
    2. Think every shot is going in if you think your going to hit it out it will go out when you hit a big winner think it's going in.
     
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  17. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

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    DON'T NET IT. Hit it long, in any case, but DON'T net it.
     
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  18. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    This is the best post on the thread, IMHO...
     
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  19. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    You have to close out the match with whatever's working for you.

    If you've been grinding it out from the baseline, don't try to serve and volley on match point.
    If you've been hitting big shots and going for winners, don't get conservative and start pushing.
    And if you've been pushing, don't start going for winners.
     
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  20. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Watch the ball bounce. I sometimes would get caught looking at the opponent and where I wanted to hit the ball instead of just focusing on the ball coming up off of the ground. In fact my game is at its best when I stop watching the ball in mid flight- once the opponent makes contact I want to start looking at wherever it is going to land so that I can watch the ball come up off of the ground. Particularly on serves this was a major difference in my game. I can't tell you how much more consistently I hit when I just focus on this one thing.
     
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  21. nyc

    nyc Hall of Fame

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    1. Pretend you're down when you're in the lead
    2. Watch the ball
    3. Have a plan
     
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  22. madmanfool

    madmanfool Semi-Pro

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    I used to play matches to have fun, now i play to win. Cause if i win i can come back to play a second round:) That kinda helped.
    I still need to learn to grind out more points and to play cross court as much as possilbe. Basically i'm trying to go from a "brain dead Gonzalez go for broke style" to a "be a nasty *** consistent grinding style from Canas".
     
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  23. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    Actually, Gonzalez is making that transition himself. He's been playing much smarter tennis lately.
     
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  24. madmanfool

    madmanfool Semi-Pro

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    Very true.
     
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  25. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    What to think about...

    When I was doing my coaching course we had a lecture from a leading sports psychologist in Australia. He posed the following set of thoughts that he felt were common thoughts by a player before a match:
    • I'm playing John today, the last time I played him he beat me
    • AND we're on clay, damn it, I play better on Hardcourt
    • AND we're on court 7, a show court...if only we were on court 13
    • AND my knee is hurting like it always does
    And he asked the group what all of those thoughts (there were even more in his example) had in common...and we tried and tried, and didn't get it.

    You, as a player, can change none of that in the time before a match. Not the opponent, surface, court, not even consistent pain... it's all just the way it is... Focus on, and think about, the things you CAN change, because 'worrying' about things you cannot change is pointless.
     
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  26. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    So you first watch the ball to get an idea of where it will land, then you take your eyes off the ball and watch that part of the court where the ball will land? Then you intently watch the ball come up off the court?
     
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  27. tennis_hand

    tennis_hand Hall of Fame

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    agree.

    play aggressive, play your usual game. don't just tap and push. u lose yet you feel bad and u don't improve over those pushing techniques.
     
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  28. 10s talk

    10s talk Semi-Pro

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    banish the doubt (about getting my 2nd serve in)
     
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  29. shojun25

    shojun25 Professional

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    like lordmanji said, be agressive. this especially helped me find the right playing style for me.

    also, trying to clear my head from the match helped my game considerably. i just get too tense most of the time and this helped me find my peaceful place.
     
    #29
  30. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Exactly right. Think about facing a big serve. I focus my eyes on where contact will be made so I can pick up the ball as early as possible. Once I see where the ball is struck and you see the initial path of the ball you know where it is going to land. Watching the ball mid flight doesn't give you any additional information- it just makes your eyes be in constant motion. Instead I will focus my attention where the ball is going to land. On a serve the ball loses 50% of its velocity when it hits the ground- focusing on that impact is just as important as focusing on your opponent hitting the ball. When I focus on that spot it keeps my head still and it gets me into position early. It has made an incredible difference in my game.
     
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  31. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    Thanks, I will try that because my returns of serve need big improvement. Right now I usually just block back any powerful serve because that's all I have time for.
     
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  32. z-money

    z-money Semi-Pro

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    THINK!
    if you realize what a player doesnt like. make sure he sees alot of it. if you keep your head in the game. you can beat a peer who you are close to by 6-0, instead of 7-6. just make sure you can keep it up
     
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  33. Pusher

    Pusher Professional

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    The person that figures it out will be a millionaire. Many have tried to address the question-few, if any, get it right. A room full of sports psychologists will give you a roomful of different answers. I doubt there is one right answer but there is one right answer for you. Keep playing and it will come to you.
     
    #33
  34. str33t

    str33t Professional

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    This one came to me a while ago when I was reading something on TennisOne.

    When the ball hits the court and bounces, it is usually spinning with more spin than the player hit it with. You have to counter that intense spin by swinging your racquet fast to counter the ball's spin. This concept has helped me to swing faster so I can counter the topspin that the incoming ball has, and also has added more topspin to my game.
     
    #34
  35. Doc Hollidae

    Doc Hollidae Hall of Fame

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    Control, Hurt, Finish
     
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  36. penpal

    penpal Rookie

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    I really didn't get the "watch the ball" mantra until those still frame shots of Federer started becoming popular. I can't claim I do it as well as Fed, in fact I can't even claim I always do it, but when I find myself in a funk I can now usually correct it much more quickly because I realize I'm tending to look where I want to hit, rather than watching the ball into my racquet.
     
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  37. zzzbrianxxx

    zzzbrianxxx Rookie

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    All I have to add to this is that if you lose a point, the moment you lose it you have to forget about it and move on to the next point no matter how bad of an error you possibly just made. This helped me a lot. Fixing your strings helps you forget. But don't just fix the strings...concentrate intensely on fixing the strings for 10 seconds. Think about NOTHING else. After that your ready to go and you've forgotten about the previous point.

    I think every point, from a mental point of view, has to be played independantly of all the others. This is why the tour tries to remain calm all the time.
     
    #37
  38. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    LOL, I can't say it any better than that. I THOUGHT I was watching the ball too, until those youtube super slow mo's came out, and now I realize how badly I have been looking up shot after shot. I am working on this myself, and it is HARD.
     
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  39. andymac1

    andymac1 Rookie

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    "Watch the ball" and "Don't Jump You Friking Idiot" invaluable 2 phrases. Honestly.
     
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  40. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    Wow. "Watch the ball" is a popular answer.

    Don't jump? Do you mean, don't jump off the ground when you hit the ball?
     
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  41. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    For a great majority of 3.0-3.5 players that have this problem that I have seen, tend to jump, or lift up at contact or just prior to contact. The issue there, is that in their case, as was in mine for many years, the hitting *base* is reduced so much that there is no option but to arm the ball becuase you expended your stored energy by coming up with the body prior to contact.

    Now that I think back, not jumping for me and my hitting partner, were HUGE breakthroughs in our tennis games, and took a long time to undo. LOL, I used to jump on volleys, all volleys! Excited I guess...
     
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  42. N23

    N23 Rookie

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    Relax..........
     
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  43. Jay27

    Jay27 Rookie

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    ???WTF??? Sorry, but you may want to rephrase your statement here. You're forearm will pronate (or should) during the forehand follow though (that might be the "flick" you're talking about) and why would you want to make the ball rise over the baseline. That's considered "out" where I'm from.

    Anyway, I think the thing that helped me most, once I realized it, was the fact of staying loose and not tensing up and moving my feet! It's amazing how much more consistent I became when both of these tasks were combined in actual match play.
     
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  44. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    I'm in that category. Taking lessons as a teenager, I remember the instructor saying to bend my knees before the shot, and to straighten my legs as I make contact. Is that now considered bad form?
     
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  45. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Staightening your legs and jumping are not the same things. What I am talking about are guys coming up with their body and head before their stroke has happened. This disconnects their arm from their power plant before they stroke, so all that is left is the arm. In other words, they are misfiring the kinetic chain. Ground to feet, to hips to shoulders to arms to racket to ball. One smooth transfer of energy, both linear and angular.

    I don't want to mislead you with technical jargon. But the above is what I am talking about when I say jumping is a bad thing. I know the pros tend to jump, but their dynamic balance is very different than a 3.5 weekend player.
     
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  46. DrewRafter8

    DrewRafter8 Professional

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    Move your feet! Watched a great match of a couple good DI college players a few weeks back. ECU vs. UNC Wilmington, there was a lefty who I loved watching play. His feet were constantly moving. I mean really moving. It was a great thing to watch.
     
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  47. MTXR

    MTXR Professional

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    When i start getting aggressive and serve and volleying i don't double fault and i start winning...

    Being aggressive is key for me...
     
    #47
  48. shutupova

    shutupova Guest

    Watch The F******* BALL!!

    That remains to be the single best advice for me.
    I couldn't believe how that helps my shot making almost instantly.
     
    #48
  49. lakis92

    lakis92 Rookie

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    You have to pay for every ******** you do.... A coach I know told me that.....

    It also helps me when I get mad and angry with my opponent. Like he has done something to me... I hit harder and faster then. If you can be angry and stay calm you gonna kick some butts.
     
    #49
  50. Photoshop

    Photoshop Professional

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    Move yo feet. Run down every ball. Keep the intensity.
    and hit every ball on the same horizontal path.
     
    #50

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