How to Enjoy the Competition of the League Matches?

tennisbike

Semi-Pro
Do/did you enjoy the matches you play? Did you enjoy the win?

I pulled out a win 6-0, 6-4 in a single, 40 and above 3.5 league I think. It was the first singles match I played since high school 40 years ago. I started with an ace down the T, hit freely and dominated the first set. Then struggled, missed shots and got behind 2-4 in the second set. Pushed myself to raise the level, super focus, played high percentage tennis (more defensively). Last point, approached hit a volley, and put away the second volley I played of the match. That last point felt so good, like I was saving the volley for the match point.

But I was a mess. Tried to eat, and the stomach almost cramped up for a few hours after. This was probably why I got burned out after one season of high school tennis though I was the winningest player of the team. Playing matches took a lot out of me. I am not sure I enjoy playing matches. It is almost like playing matches is more work than fun.

How do you enjoy the competition without becoming a wreck like me?
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
I experience all the "negative" symptoms you do. Difference is, I like it. The work is the fun.

Casually hitting the ball or not being hyper competitive is as unfulfilling as it is frustrating. I cannot enjoy something if it is not competitive. I've been this way since a child.

So yeah, Im a wreck also, but I love the anguish. Im comfortable being miserable. I also love watching the opponent go thru it as well. Feeling them give in and quit mentally is like having a thirst quenched. Needless to say, my mind goes to some pretty dark places during competitions.

And it's like that for every competition I've ever participated in... football, basketball, ping pong, board games, motocross, etc etc etc.
 
Do/did you enjoy the matches you play? Did you enjoy the win?

I pulled out a win 6-0, 6-4 in a single, 40 and above 3.5 league I think. It was the first singles match I played since high school 40 years ago. I started with an ace down the T, hit freely and dominated the first set. Then struggled, missed shots and got behind 2-4 in the second set. Pushed myself to raise the level, super focus, played high percentage tennis (more defensively). Last point, approached hit a volley, and put away the second volley I played of the match. That last point felt so good, like I was saving the volley for the match point.

But I was a mess. Tried to eat, and the stomach almost cramped up for a few hours after. This was probably why I got burned out after one season of high school tennis though I was the winningest player of the team. Playing matches took a lot out of me. I am not sure I enjoy playing matches. It is almost like playing matches is more work than fun.

How do you enjoy the competition without becoming a wreck like me?
Are you sure your "almost cramps" were psychological vs physical? Maybe you were dehydrated? Maybe your body was running on empty? Or is this a typical outcome?

It sounds like you care about the result too much. The way to enjoy competition is to...enjoy competing. Have fun being out on the court and exercising your skills. Forget about results and expectations.

Are you a type A personality? Are you strongly results-oriented? Do you have high expectations? These traits all lead to your scenario.

Have a look at this:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tennis+patrick+cohn

 

tennisbike

Semi-Pro
Thanks for your response.

"So yeah, Im a wreck also, but I love the anguish. Im comfortable being miserable. " I love that. I guess I just have to embrace the anguish.

Am I? I doubt I am result-oriented. I think I am more process oriented. Outcome is not something I can control. I cannot control the opponent. But I can control what I do, and to a certain extend my concentration level.
I actually understand quite well how to maximize my performance which is to free myself from other thoughts. It is like flying down a narrow single track on a mountain bike and you HAVE to focus on the path you are going to travel on and not the danger next to it. If you look away, you crash into it. This takes practice and it is work. I could do it, and I did. At 2-4, I got my eyes to open wider, and zero in on the moment getting ready to receive. It was like I was able to inject myself with extra dose of adrenalin to raise my fight or flight response. It is like the sympathetic nervous system kicked in overdrive and does not die down for a few hours after.

In general, in life, I avoid conflicts. My wife said I am competitive. But I thought I am not.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
In general, in life, I avoid conflicts. My wife said I am competitive. But I thought I am not.
Yeah it just sounds like you're not comfortable in conflict. Not uncommon.

On a conscious level, I try to avoid conflict/crisis in life. It's easy to see that stress isnt healthy and we'd all like life to be easier.

But in reality & on a sub-conscious level things are very different. Not only are humans built for stress, they need it. We're wired to survive. Some of us in more extreme cases than the rest. While I may consciously try to avoid conflict in my personal life & work, the reality is that in crisis is when I get calm. It's where Im comfortable. Im not what you'd refer too as a "peace time general" hahaha. It just is what it is, I've learned to live with it. Sports are my outlet in this regard. I'd honestly be totally comfortable in a constant state of fight or flight.

But not everyone is wired to that extreme. A huge component in life is "self identification". Knowing who you are (for better & worse) and then accepting it. I dont think you could fake being comfortable in crisis any more than I could fake being comfortable without it. We just learn to navigate who we are.
 
I enjoy usta league matches more when I am playing more frequently, so that I can compete at a level that feels more ‘right’ for me.

On the other hand, if i am getting out to play once or twice a month, I still love competing against friends or strangers as long as it doesn’t count for anything.

I’m definitely a results oriented player. I enjoy the physical and mental battle of an even matched competition, especially singles.

If I have to play ugly tennis to compete, I’d rather do that than go down meekly trying to look pretty.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
I only play doubles at the moment - may venture into singles in the coming months, but I'm not sure my overall fitness and/or general disrepair of my body can take it - I've got a bit of a dodgy knee and some nagging but not serious plantar fasciits. Anyway, I try to just play my game - whatever shots I'm working on, I try to hit them without fear of the outcome... if my serve is working well that day, I crank it up (pure joy for me to blast aces - these days are rare when I can just serve aces almost at will, but they do happen from time to time). If my serve isn't working great, I try to mix it up, throwing kickers and slices out wide, up the T, on the body, whatever - working on placement and never giving the receiver two looks at the same serve in a row - and my joy on those days comes from holding my serve.

In general, I try to problem solve with my own game - my overall game is NEVER firing on all cylinders - maybe my serve is on but my forehand is dicey, or maybe my net play is off and my ground strokes are dialed in - so I try to work the points to take advantage of the shots I feel confident with on that given day. To me, matches are not about the win/loss record, but whether or not I am able to improve some part of my game under match pressure... so in essence, I guess I try to enjoy the competition as a means of accelerating my learning curve - enjoying the process of becoming a better player wihtout worrying too much about the final score. Sure, a win is great, and I don't play selfishly - I try to use whatever is feeling good that day with my game to win the match, but I try not to get too uptight about the score.

Every once in a while I get a little ego-enjoyment out of a match though. A couple months ago I was playing in a mixed match. My partner was very new and nervous. The opponents picked up on this and despite the fact that I was serving lights out that day, we lost the match 6-4, 6-4. We only lost her serve twice, but that was the difference in game scores - we tried, but couldn't break their serve as they just keyed in on hitting to my partner. This made my partner feel even worse and more nervous and I couldn't get her calmed down, nor could I do enough with the occasional shots that I could get to, to put the points away and win them... it the second set and we were down 3-5 and my partner says with this pained look in her face "Have you noticed they're picking on me?" and I said "Yep, but don't you worry about that, you just play your game, enjoy the day, the beer is cold and waiting for us, hang in there!" It was my serve next, and previously, I was not really blasting serves, but I just knew I could when I wanted. Up until that point I'd just been prcticing extreme placement without really hitting my laser blasts... so anyway, I wasn't really mad that the other team was picking on my partner, I'd have done the same thing if I were them... but I just felt bad for her and wanted the opponents to know what they were really dealing with... so I step up to the line and put everything I have into my first serve - slightly hooking flat serve - as hard as I can hit it (which is pretty hard) ace right up the T - bangs into the back fence... 15-0, next serve, same speed, but out wide ace, 30-0, next serve - went out wide with another missile, ace - 40-0, next serve, blast another serve straight up the T this time - just long, second serve, I hit it just as hard, in the same spot, but this time it's in just like I knew it would be - ace - game. Set score is now us down 4-5 with them to serve for the match. We switch ends and fail to break their serve and lose the match... on the way to shake hands with the opponents, my partner and I hug and she says "thank you for serving that game right up their a**es." THAT was probably the most satisfying loss I can recall.
 

FedLIKEnot

Professional
I most definitely have experience all of that and than some. In fact just yesterday was my first match in a year though I did play a few tourneys in the summer. I was nervous a ton of anxiety to just get it started. It always helps to start quick and get a break early. Save for that just focusing on one point at a time. Not being afraid even if just in your to give the opponent credit for hitting a winner or forcing an error out of me helps. I used to get so mad at myself when I would leave a ball short in the court or miss a target by a big margin. But I had a tennis pro tell me that the opponent still had to make the shot. So if the get themselves in position to hit a clear winner you have to applaud that work as much or more than blame yourself for making it easy. It wasn’t an easy concept to grasp with my male ego. Haha. But now I find I win way more than I lose and that is almost only because I don’t get to high or to low it calms the nerves.

As far as the eating and all that I got nothing for you I cannot eat before a match- at all. And sometimes trying to eat a bar or banana during it can be tough.

But embrace the suck, embrace the struggle, and realize they’re going through it in their own way as well.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
When I first picked it up, I was expecting to be as good at tennis as I used to be at baseball when I played in college (never mind how absurd this expectation was, given that I picked baseball up at age 6, had constant coaching throughout the time and played until the peak of my career at age 22 in college, and picked up tennis 2 years ago at age 47 with little or no intense athletic activity occurring in the previous 25 years and with something less than constant coaching). I was nervous in matches, insanely hard on myself, beating myself up over mistakes, pushing myself over the meltdown brink, losing sleep over poor play, etc. I remember describing my play after one particularly bad day to a friend (who was also a college baseball player in his past) as "unforgivably terrible". He is a considerably better tennis player than I am, super fast on his feet, great hands, much more consistent, but also has been playing for 15 years... it must have been quite invalidating and possibly even insulting to him that I spoke this way about my silly expectations after (at that time) not even 2 years of playing tennis myself - It was as if I were saying, "I should be better than you in under 2 years even though you've been playing for 15 years!" Because he's such a good guy, he never admonished me or even said anything but try to console me about it.

Anyway, I listened to this podcast that I'm about to link and it changed my perspective on what I was doing with this rec league tennis habit that I've picked up - the botom line on it is to enjoy and focus on the process, rather than focusing on the results. This is my mantra now, and I am enjoying myself tremendously. This goes hand in hand with discussions I've had around here, particularly with @TimeToPlaySets about just building my own game and playing that, without fear of what it will do in matches and how many matches I will lose as I work on that "killer" forehand or serve or whatever, and just enjoy building those strokes and that game I want.

https://www.essentialtennis.com/the-secret-to-tennis-happiness-essential-tennis-podcast-304/

Give it a listen. Good stuff.
 
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