tips on improving mental strength (help)
I've come back into tennis after a 2 year hiatus a few months ago and recently started competing in weekly competition. I believe overall I am playing at a slight higher level than my opponents (Many of my opponents 'lollypop' their second serves) but the frustrating thing is I always end up losing the match due to succumbing to my weak mental strength, double faulting or hitting unforced errors.:(
1. Read "Winning the Mental Match" by Dr. Allen Fox - read this and it is a great book
2. Read "Winning Ugly" by Brad Gilbert - only read excerpts from this one and will buy it as soon as it is available as an e-book - good excerpts and good feedback from others
3. Recognize that complaining that my partner is not good enough for me to win is a cop-out. Inconsistency is your shots may reflect technical and mental weaknesses in your game. Are you hitting enough spin on your 2nd serves to be consistent under pressure? Do you hit enough topspin when returning weak 2nd serves to hit the return hard and keep it in the court? Can you keep intense mental focus during a match but still keep muscles/body relaxed and swing free of tension?
Good luck and exposure to match conditions will help a great deal.
I think it's Mats Wilander who said that trying the things you'd do easily early in the matches at moments you feel pressure or/and are tired isn't really successful. Every pro feels pressure, then thing is to rely on basic strengths and safer plans. It's hard to go for the line when pressured at 4-5 third set 30 all serving to stay in the match.
I think it's this:
Of course he's talking about another issue, but still interesting, especially towards the end.
If it is too high you are playing beyond your comfort zone and either you need play less risky or train more to improve the consistency of your strokes and that is all about physical ability not mental strength.
One thing that helps, start doing things you don't like during practice.
(If you have a strong side, hit the weak side only during practice, play the type of player you don't like, stuff like that.)
Hang in there.
There are a lot of shots in match play that make it hard to use grooved strokes.
Opponents hit loopy shots, slice - all sorts of things that throw off your timing.
Lollypop serves can be tantalizingly tough - too short to take a good swing at and not have a high percentage of unforced errors.
The solution is more match play. While you have been on your 2 year hiatus, your opponents have been finding a way to deal with the above problems.
Soon, you will deal with them too.
Often it is with the "getting the ball back one more time" philosophy, rather than risky point winners.
What are your first and second serve percentages?
What is your first serve and second percentages when you are serving either in the game to lose or win the set?
Stress is real - the body produces adrenaline making it harder to replicate the complex movements of a serve.
Consider some of the following:
Use more of a spin serve as your first serve, so there will be less second serves to have to hit (and double fault).
[There really is a "hard" kick or slice serve hit slightly more in front than for your second serve, but that may greatly increase your first serve percentage.]
In games that decide the set, use the above serve philosophy.
Start the match hitting kick and slice serves to draw your oponent off the court, then hit to the open court as your next shot.
This will increase your first serve percentage and give you more practice at the slice and kick serves your will need as your second serves.
Mental strength is overhyped. Dollars to doughnuts your technique is not solid. If its not solid - you will randomnly miss shots.
Reading this board I have found that lots of tennis players love the idea of improving their tennis radically via 'mental' work. But that comes in more when you are at the top of the game.
The difference between two top ten pros might really be mental strength. The difference between two rec players is one guy has a horrible forehand/serve/volley etc..
If you are double faulting your serve - drill on your serve technique. Learn a kick serve that you feel very confident in..
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