Chopping and changing my game - Anyone else in a slump?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Chris.L, Aug 23, 2004.

  1. Chris.L

    Chris.L New User

    Mar 22, 2004
    Very dissapointed and frustrated tonight.

    A while ago i decided to start playing more aggressivly and hitting out.... well.... the losses started to flow, i got conservative, focused on consistency... the losses still flowed.

    I have won some random matches over very weak players.... but any decent player is beating me like 6-2 6-3, 6-1 6-2. This is so depressing. I remember, i never felt like i was playing differently in my a grade season where i won 12 matches in a row.... now i hav hit some sort of mental slump!
    I feel soooo dissapointed. Tennis isn't fun when you start losing consistently!
    Tonight was the worst... my partner commented on how lazy i seemed "is there something wrong?" "your not playing well"
    And the opponents " Hope you play better in the singles!"

    For soem reason i got very immature and spitefull when i was told this... pfff.... downward spiral!

    Well... i am not going to plead to BungalowBill for help for this. This is my own stupid problem. I suppose i will have to tough this slump out and try and find some game again. Its annoying because i hit with weak players and feel great.
    But i chop and change my game on the court... i don't trust myself at the moment on court.... too passive... too aggressive... hit that to hard.... hit that too weak... tone it down... now attack..... all these dumb thoughts run through my head and i end up losing!
    I will hav to work myself through this.

    Anyone else experienced this type of slump for no apparent reason?!
  2. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Professional

    Apr 13, 2004
    I can't wait to see what Bill prescribes. I'm sure he will have great advice for easing out of a slump. I wonder if he will speak of going back to the simple things and basics.
  3. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

    Feb 11, 2004
    You're thinking too much. Sounds like you've played a lot. Maybe you ought to knock off tennis for a week or two.
  4. Chris.L

    Chris.L New User

    Mar 22, 2004
    I swear i have regressed. I don't feel as if i am hitting the ball awfull.
    I am losing a match, so i tweak my backhand... i really emphasise the low to high motion.... it starts working...
    I play the next day, thinking "emphasise this low to high motion" - this is the discovery! do this and i will win!
    What happens? i fall apart, shots fly lose, so then i revert back to my original backand, less preperation for the ball, more whip. I start to hit far more powerfull and even though i may not win, i seem much more capable.
    This is my problem, i practically do this on all my shots during a match.... and even moreso throughout a week. Chop and change, chop and change.... but now, despite all my efforts i am losing far more then i win!
  5. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

    Feb 20, 2004
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Thinking too much about your shots. Just feel the force Luke and let it flow from within you. You might want to take some time off too so you can come back fresh and with a new perspective.
  6. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    Yeah I have experienced that. I have experienced that quite often. It is part of growing and improving. You are trying to take your game up a notch but you're trying to do it physically rather than mentally. So it frustrates you because you're only seeing one side of the coin to this whole learning process.

    Last night in fact, I was playing with that 5.5 guy I mentioned before. I am one that goes for my shots. It is my style of play. I have heard it all:

    1. You hit the ball too hard, someone is going to get hurt.

    2. You didn't need to hit the ball that hard (even though I won the point)

    3. You try to put too much spin on the ball.

    4. All you had to do was take pace off the ball and hit with more angle - you didnt have to hit your winner that way

    5. yada yada yada

    I have tried the other way so many times like hitting softer balls, going for longer "retriever style" (not the golden type as Cypo mentioned) rallys and to be honest it really screws me up. I dont flow mentally as well. I also dont move very well and feel like I am in cement!

    I can hit all the shots, drop shots, volleys, slices, topspin but my game style is to come out guns a blazing. Big serve, big forehand, if the ball is in the strike zone I will heat it up with my towhander, I come in to volley, I mix strategies (i.e. S&V, baseline, all-court, etc).

    If I miss a ball, the three questions I ask myself are:

    1. Did I choose the right shot selection?

    2. Did I try and hit through the ball with confidence?

    3. Did the shot I chose fit into my game plan?

    If I answered yes to the questions above, then it is not something to get frustrated about. I am actually happy I discovered this and cant wait to practice it after the match. It allows me to fine tune my game and improve very quickly. It makes my practices much more fun and focused.

    I understand the "thinking to much" syndrome, but I think every player needs to "think" on the court. You are in a battle and you got to be thinking. Most players have to think of their strokes especially in a match situation as they are still at levels of play that a stroke is not "automatic" as you see in the pros. So that can be frustrating. I also agree that you shouldnt OVER think and continue to OVER think after the match is over.

    The key question I need to ask you is this:

    When you hit out, did you choose to hit out on the right ball?

    I encourage players to hit out on short balls and other balls if it is the right shot selection. If they miss, so what, they made the right mental choice. Now it is a physical aspect that we can certainly improve on by duplicating the situation in practice.

    In other words, if you were graded on a test, you scored 50% on the exam. You got one right for thinking correctly, and one wrong from poor execution. The execution part in my opinion (yes, this is an opinion) is easier to teach than the mental side.

    Beating lesser players isn't a good way to judge your abilities to execute. It is because lesser players won't put as much pressure on your shot selection choices and your ability to execute as better players will.

    If someone says you don't look right out there or are lazy, then it could be your conditioning, or your footwork is now being challenged, or other things that only you know about. I can't help you there as I dont have enough information to go by.

    Later, I will post my favorite approach to practice and what I feel players should design their practices around. This certainly is a "preference" area and one I will not debate! As there are many methods out there that are perfectly suited for learning tennis.

    The tennis teaching methods I like are simple, make sense, and it is built upon the idea that as the practice goes on, it should resemble more and more of what you will be doing or need to do in a match.

    So next time you're out there try it again, go for your shots and move those feet. Make sure when you really hit out you hit out on the right ball. Take mental notes on which shots you made the right shot selection choice and tried to nail it but missed and which shots you didnt make the right shot selection choice and missed.

    That is a great way to build a practice session on what to improve on and not get frustrated with yourself.
  7. Chris.L

    Chris.L New User

    Mar 22, 2004
    Yes Yes. Thanks so much.
    Rather then thinking a lot on court, i am constantly questioning myself, evaluating.
    How do i explain this....
    When i play tennis, i like to fit a certain profile, or 'theme' of player.
    When i was on a winning streak (back in the day) i remember each time i got on court, i would think to myself.... steady groundies.... steady groundies.... but now it just doesn't click.... If a few shots miss... i panic, start changing things straight away.
    I change things so drasticly because i am terrified of losing (i should be used to it by now!)
    I will cork more on my footwork... but i am still under the impression that my problem is mental, my actualy technique and footwork is quite sound, my confidence and trust in my own shots is down the drain!
    I am not boasting that i am a top player with top shots that should be dominating anyone, in fact i am really just a steady baseliner nothing more....
    Bill i look foreward to your info on training. But i am not even going for big shots out there! .. which is what makes this whole issue even more depressing.
    I am going for a hit tonight.... i will try and get my confidence back.

    Thanks again for your advice... glad to hear even you deal with this self-doubt... i had no idea such a slight tweak in your thinking patterns on court can result in such big slumps!
  8. copycat

    copycat New User

    May 14, 2004
    Well I used to have exactly the same problem as you Chris and still do to some extent (must be us aussies ey?? :p) I managed to fix this problem by literally not thinking at all when on the tennis court. I almost always video tape my tennis matches and analyse them afterwards, otherwise when in a match I just try to get back every single ball with the hit, bounce, hit technique (see BB's post a while back.) I also find I play alot better when I don't think about strategy at all and just try and get to every ball. Basically the only guideline I follow when playing is "when getting close to net, retreat back to baseline" :roll:

    Oh and by the way, where do you play in Ozland and in which comp?
  9. Chris.L

    Chris.L New User

    Mar 22, 2004
    I play in Melbourne. You play viccomp/pennant i assume? or the equivilent in another state?
    Never played Pennant grade, although i have played and beaten Grade 4 and 5 players. God knows they would kill me now.

    I actually had a hit an hour ago. Played my dinky, unorthodox uncle and beat him only 6-4 after being 2-4 down. Can't say that helps my confidence.... but hey.... can only get better right? ;)
    Oh yeah... i always retreat to the baseline as well! :eek:
  10. copycat

    copycat New User

    May 14, 2004
    hahahaa yeah I play in the Victorian Tennis Series (pennant). I played grade 8 last season and didnt drop a match until I injured my shoulder :( In summer I plan on playing challenge cup in the WDTA association (Waverley and District Tennis Association). What association do you play in and which club for??

    BTW I play comp for Glen Iris Valley
  11. Chris.L

    Chris.L New User

    Mar 22, 2004
    I remember the good ol' junior days. Plenty of time on your hands.... all day on the court... tournaments galore! Enjoy them!
    I play at Wheelers Hill indoor racket club and Riverside International Tennis center in Ascot Vale. I am not with any associations currently.... although i used to play for the Waverley Junior district representing Narre Warren.... we won it 3 times in a row! woohoo! .... as i said... the good ol days! ;)
  12. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ahhh, I think I might see your biggest hurdle to overcome. By making a statement like this, as innocent as it sounds, it really does affect your attitude towards your game:

    "Played my dinky, unorthodox uncle and beat him only 6-4 after being 2-4 down. Can't say that helps my confidence..."

    I know it doesn't sound like much, but this statement helps me look into your head a little more. A big hurdle you need to overcome is not focusing on the outcome of a match. Playing a dinker is sometimes tougher then playing a person that hits his groundstrokes with pace. Dinkers make it difficult to get any sort of rhythm going. So, my opinion? Coming back from a 2-4 deficit is very good from an outcome perspective.

    As the poster said above, saying HIT BOUNCE HIT or another cadence mechanism is very helpful to keep your mind clear of self-doubt. Now, the only thing I didn't agree on was not thinking of anything else. You need to concentrate on your strategy and game tactics. That way you can get positive feedback on what you need to change so you don't keep hitting into a poor strategic matchup.

    By thinking of your game plan, you stay in an area of what I call positive thinking. Positive thinking is not saying things like "I'm so great, I love me, I think a love me too, I love the sky, I love the ground, I just love everything, isn't life just great".

    To me positive thinking is your ability to gain an understanding of what is going on in the match and to allow yourself to make decisions to either keep your game plan going or change it if you see your orginal game plan is not working.

    This kind of thinking gives you POSITIVE information during the match. It is not about the score or if your going to win or lose. This kind of thinking gives you information you can make positive decisions on. Information you can formulate a positive practice session around. Information to help you see that you will improve and keep improving so that you can keep building your confidence in what you're doing. That is positive thinking.

    In other words, positive thinking has an impact BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER your match. I should call it PRODUCTIVE thinking.

    Now dont get me wrong I love the "inner" game book. I really do believe you should relax and allow your strokes to be smooth. But I think players can let the stroke stuff go and concentrate on the task at hand - and that task is to execute your game plan.

    You need to focus on PERFORMANCE GOALS that are not outcome focused (i,e. reducing your double faults). Performance goals will influence the outcome of a match but that isn't your main focus. So if you lose, it wont be so disheartening.

    When I mentioned above "do you hit out on your shots and do you hit out on the right shot selections" these can be turned into performance goals. If you miss, so what, so long as you made the right decision. That is what you need to focus on.

    If you divide the court into three sections going lengthwise and five section from the baseline to the net, knowing what to do in these zones concerning making the RIGHT shot selection is paramount to your development. In the beginning will you think too much while trying to hit the ball and knowing what zone your in at the same time? You bet you will, but with drills and father time it becomes automatic on what kind of shot you need to make in different areas of the court.

    Also, hitting out on the ball does not mean hitting wildly. It does not mean hitting out of control. It means that you are willing to execute the proper stroke, a full stroke into the ball. So if you're volleying you're going to step in and have no backswing and execute the stroke to hit a solid volley. You're going to use good technique to hit a solid volley. If it is a low ball that is short, you are going to slice it back and come in keeping the ball low to your opponent so he has to hit up. Those are the right shot selections.

    As a player gets better at making the right choices and beats himself less, then he can introduce topspin ripper dippers on the short low ball. But the player will be incorporating this shot into the match slowly until they master it. Kind of like how Roddick is incorporating volleys into his game. Slowly and at certain times.

    Now, if you make the right shot selection and you miss, that is ok, you now need to determine if you need to practice that shot more. It should do nothing to damage your confidence. I repeat, it should do nothing to damage your confidence. You will just need to go back to the labratory and practice the shot until you get it right. In fact, that should actually build your confidence!

    Do you see the difference?

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