I have some serious psychological problems... help

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by willpiovano, Mar 7, 2004.

  1. willpiovano

    willpiovano Guest

    I play fine in practice; everything is generally ok. When I play a match it is disaster. I double-fault, and what's worst, I hit all my groundstrokes, and I mean ALL, into the net (short).
    The problem is not being angry. I don't know if it's being nervous, I feel calm, but it's as if something holding me back, and it's so frustrating.
    I love my game in practice, but when I try to play a match, even alone with my brother, i deteriorate. I noticed that the only shots I do well are those where I use more instinct than thought (e.g. fast volley, a flipped lob while running...etc). When I have time to contemplate the ball, like a nice soft forehand to smash into the other court, I choke.
    Once again, I'm not sure if it's a real choke. I don't feel nervous, how could I be in a match against my brother. It's cause I want to win so bad. I care so much I get scared.
    I need some help...

  2. Verbal_Kint

    Verbal_Kint Rookie

    Feb 18, 2004
    Get yourself in the 'now'. To find out how to do this, read The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey.

  3. lendl lives

    lendl lives Semi-Pro

    Feb 23, 2004
    I noticed recenlty I was tightening up in matches. Then I realized how much my string tension had dropped and also that I strung my stick too low to begin with. Slowy balls started going out without me really noticing changes in feel. I started to hit tentatively and playing tight. Then it finally hit me about my tension after a week or so. Strung my stick tighter and am swinging out on the ball. Playing much better. Not sure if this relates to you though.
  4. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    I think your found the problem. When you become "outcome" focused it will cause your brain to freeze certain muscles during your strokes - you feel loose right up until that forward part of your swing - then something feels odd but you swing anyway.

    You need to play more matches so you can relax more and just play points. Learn to take deep breathes throughout the match. Focus on performance goals instead of outcomes. And above all else have some fun out there!
  5. Thunnus

    Thunnus Rookie

    Feb 20, 2004
    First, don't feel so bad. I know exactly how you feel because I was just like you not too long ago. During practice I had the best serve and ground strokes, but during any match play with any significance, I would get tight and make horrible mistakes over and over like hitting the fense on an easy sitter.

    I have noticed that some other people don't have these issues at all from the beginning. I guess they are just lucky. But, you can work on this and it will feel great to overcome it and play the type of tennis that you knew you were capable of.

    Being mentally stronger and having things in perspective will really help. You may consider doing the following:

    1. Read "The inner game of tennis"
    2. Play a lot of matches that count
    3. Remove all doubts about your game or equipment by being solid in all aspects of your game and being well prepared.

    For me, playing more matches and getting generally more mature (older) have helped a lot. But, it did take a long time to overcome the demon from my high school and college days. It is so silly now to think that I was worried about whether to play one side of racket vs. the other or worrying about my serve while receiving, etc. The other thing that really helped me was to have a backup plan. If I have an off day, I can play defensively and keep all the balls in play and force my opponent to beat me. Since I am pretty fit and quick, I know I can give a good match even my A game is not working.

    You have a great chance to overcome this problem. It will feel great to get this monkey off your back.
  6. polakosaur

    polakosaur Rookie

    Feb 19, 2004
    focus on performance not on outcome, this way you'll gain confidence in your game and then when a big point or match is on the line you'll be good to go
  7. joe sch

    joe sch Legend

    Feb 19, 2004
    Hotel CA
    practice inner tennis :!: If you need the book, email me. Best wishes, Joe
  8. tnkGod4tns

    tnkGod4tns Rookie

    Feb 18, 2004
    it takes some time to mature to your game and experience counts a lot, that's why sometimes it's hard to beat those old guys you see on the courts. Everybody looks good in practice, the best way to be relax on matches is to play a lot of them and by doing that you will also develop your mental toughness. Balance out your practice sessions with your match sessions, you need both to improve.
  9. Hyperstate

    Hyperstate Rookie

    Feb 19, 2004
    If all your groundies are hitting the net, could it be that you're rushing the shots? Agree with the others that you gotta focus on performance and not outcome.

    I guess you gotta be conscious about what you're doing. Is your overwhelming desire to win the point causing you to rush your shots? If so, what are the constructive things that you can do to help you get back into the zone?

    When I'm having a rotten day, with my forehand going out of whack, I tell myself TO FOCUS ON THE BASICS. Instead of thinking about the score, focus on shotmaking. For me, that's racquet prep, foot work, eye on the ball to help me get into position to hit the ball in my strike zone. I continue to go for my shots and the back to basics mentality seems to help. BTW, back to the basics includes hitting a killer forehand to force an error from my opponent! Good luck!
  10. heartman

    heartman Rookie

    Mar 3, 2004
    Performance worries...

    I have to agree with several of the respondents about reading "The Iner Game of Tennis". However, don't get out over your skis too quickly in terms of performance or results based on the author's definitions. This is a game we're talking about, after all. The IGT book shares a pretty strong/deep method of learning - I could see it being a challenge if you are not up to the task due to stroke deficiencies.

    As you progress to higher levels of competency and skill in terms of the basic strokes of tennis, take time to work on certain specific tasks, one at a time. For instance, you might say that in your next match you will work on serving consistency. Take some pace off your serve, and trade it in for the fact that you played an entire service game(or set!) without double-faulting. Or try to work on keeping your approach shots behind the service line. Or "today I will make sure I hit my forehand with consistency, and not try to hit winning passing shots every time my opponent comes to the net". Simply trying to "get better" all at once can be dreadfully overwhelming, and many times the concept will bury players that are trying too hard.

    Play more matches with similarly-skilled players, but also try to play with those that compete at a higher level. Don't be discouraged by inconsistent play. Try not to be too hard on yourself - you may need to reach a bit deeper to find the level of patience necessary for you to succeed.

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