I have the strokes. I know the game. I just can't win.

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#1
Seriously. Several certified pros have commented on how solid my strokes are. I have read so much and watched so many videos that I pretty much know the correct strategies for match play.

BUT. This does not translate into winning tennis. I just can't find a way to win in most matches.

Not surprisingly, it mostly comes down to not being able to be consistent enough. I'm not able to "suffer" for my losses and make my opponents play.

Here's the problem: that knowledge can't help me win. Even if I say "okay, just get the ball in play" there is no improvement in consistency. In fact, I often get more timid and things get worse.

I know the standard answers like use directionals, attack your opponents weakness, play your strength to their weakness, etc.

Still, I can't win tennis matches.

Sorry this is a bit of a vent, but I'd love to hear any thoughts you guys have on competing.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
#2
Winning match's against physical peers comes down to mental strength, adaptability, and concentration.
Why are you losing? Maybe the above.
 
S

Sirius Black

Guest
#3
Look into sports psychology? They'll give you tangible strategies to implement in practice that should help you in matches.

I get really nervous in match play situations, which is one of the reasons I don't play competitively anymore. Most people will tell you to try to relax, but I found that doing so only made me worse.

Instead, acknowledging the nerves and giving in to them -- using them as a sort of energy source -- worked a lot better.
 

tennis4me

Professional
#5
Without looking at your matches, it's hard to generalize the solution. But ... if you know a friend who has "good eye" in tennis and you trust his skills/opinions, maybe have him observe you while you're playing matches. Have him take notes and share his opinions with you. Don't be surprised if you happen to be winning that match that your friend is observing. Good luck, hopefully you can find some insights.
 
#7
In my mind, a stroke that certified pros would call "solid" would be very consistent. But you say your problem is consistency in matches, which means there is a discrepancy between what the pros saw, and what you do in matches.

I have this problem as well where my strokes aren't as consistent in match play, and a lot of the people I play with also have this problem. (Mental toughness is the hardest part of tennis for most people I know, including myself.)

This really just comes down to mental toughness, at least for me. I use matches with friends as an opportunity to practice mental toughness. I try to focus on staying positive, and most importantly, remaining confident. I've gotten better with my mental toughness, and confidence is the most important part of it.

What I do is to make sure I get in a good position for every ball (helps a lot for me), and then just swing without much thinking. By that, I mean that you shouldn't think about "Is my grip correct?", "Remember to have a loose wrist", "Follow through all the way". I'm inconsistent because I get stiff midway through my swing, and if I just swing without much thinking, I don't get stiff. And when I don't think about technique, and I remain confident, my ground strokes are much better and much more consistent. Really, all of it just comes down to confidence.

I don't know if this helps you much, but it's how I solved my similar problem.
 
#8
It doesn't sound like your strokes are solid if you are missing more than your opponents unless they are at a higher level than you.

How are you missing? Are the games close? Does your serve get broken? Do you hit service winners or get weak replies when your first serve goes in?

How is your return game?

It is also possible that your opponents are just better than you and/or at a higher level than you.
 
S

Stupendous1HBH

Guest
#9
Consistency was a major problem for me a year or two ago. I sounded similar, had really good strokes and a good serve that should have pulled me through matches but found myself double faulting and my serve collasping. My strongest weapon was crumbling and spraying everywhere (forehand) and got angry easily. I found that I need to start focusing point by point and not think ahead too much. One point at a time and dial back the power a bit. I can hit very big off both wings and I've hit some amazing shots from them both sides. My opponents would struggle to get them back and hit a short mid court slice back to me or a floater and then I couldn't put away the next shot and overcooked things a bit. I was trying to end points in 4 or 5 shots instead of extending rallys just a bit longer and wait for a higher percentage opportunity to successfully hit winners. Once I dialed back just a touch I become more consistent and the tables turned finally. It can for you too. I know it's frustrating, I've been there.
 
#10
You need to be more analytical about your tennis. You can tell right off the bat your issue - and that's you just have generalities about your game. Next time you lose you need to PINPOINT exactly how you lost those points. Saying you weren't 'consistent' enough it s a cop out. You need to be able to say - hey I lost on those cross court forehand to forehand rallies. Or when i tried to change direction on my backhand I blew it.

Of course if you are 100% consistent you would rarely loose. But that's not realistic. What is realistic is improving specific aspects of your game that you are screwing up on..

I feel this is a huge issue for rec players who frequently lose to people that they should probably beat if they were playing intelligently..

Alot of rec players want to simply 'outhit' their opponents. If the skill level is close enough you have to implement some kind of plan.
 
#11
Play more matches and treat them like practice. As in, don't care if you win and deliberately try out different strategies ever couple of games to see what works.

Do you get nervous in matches? That can cause people to hit differently than in practice situations. I know when I'm nervous I hit much flatter - my muscles are tight and I don't get the nice snap to create spin.
 
#12
Stupid question: what practice are you doing when teaching pros tell you your strokes are solid?

In a match your opponent is trying to make life hard for you so a step down in consistency is expected because you are hitting less than ideal balls.
 
#13
I think vast majority of us feel like we execute better in practice than in a match that "counts" such as a league or tournament match. I think even pros experience this. I don't know your back ground but playing lots of league or tournaments matches can help you get over the nerves. But, I've been playing roughly 40 years now and still can feel a difference in practice vs league matches.

my thoughts:
1. practice solid technique that has a good chance of holding up when you are nervous. To me, this means learn to work the ball with spin on groundstrokes and serve so you can keep the ball in the court. You don't have to try to be a Nadal rpm monster but be able to work the ball with spin for control should be something you practice a lot. Rod Laver was quoted as saying that he was extremely nervous for Wimbledon finals and he said he just loaded the ball with topspin so it would at least stay in the court. This is perhaps the greatest player of all time using spin due to nerves. It happens to everyone.
2. commit to playing 70% tennis in matches. Meaning you aren't going to turn into a pusher when you miss a few. Still try to hit a 70% of max power basic moderately aggressive shot under match pressure. You can bump that up to 80% when you get a short ball that allows time to setup and unload, and you can scale that back to 60% if chasing and playing defense. Remember, going for the 90% to 100% screamer is frequently just another cop out - I'm nervous and they aren't going in so I'm just going to blast it and this rarely works.
3. read Allen Fox's book, I think it's called "winning the mental game". It's good and helps you keep an even keel in matches.
4. when most of us are nervous our feet slow down and we tend to not breath as deeply. Try to take deep relaxation breaths between points. Be sure to split step when opponent hits and try to prep early and keep the feet going.
5. I tend to keep game plans simple - hit CC groundstrokes, attack any weak strokes you notice, come in to net to add pressure to opponent, approach DTL to keep the ball in front of you, try to get 65%+ 1st serves in to avoid giving them lots of 2nd serves.
 
#15
For the next match, just take a swing at it for a change. You are losing anyway. if doing same old thing doesnt help, try something else
+1

You ain't at Wimbledon. W's and L's aren't even important enough to qualify as trivia. Amateur matches exist only to determine bragging rights during happy hour. And bragging rights go not to the winner of the match, but to the guy who hit the most beautiful shots during the match.
 

chikoo

Hall of Fame
#16
Seriously. Several certified pros have commented on how solid my strokes are. I have read so much and watched so many videos that I pretty much know the correct strategies for match play.

BUT. This does not translate into winning tennis. I just can't find a way to win in most matches.

Not surprisingly, it mostly comes down to not being able to be consistent enough. I'm not able to "suffer" for my losses and make my opponents play.

Here's the problem: that knowledge can't help me win. Even if I say "okay, just get the ball in play" there is no improvement in consistency. In fact, I often get more timid and things get worse.

I know the standard answers like use directionals, attack your opponents weakness, play your strength to their weakness, etc.

Still, I can't win tennis matches.

Sorry this is a bit of a vent, but I'd love to hear any thoughts you guys have on competing.
Do you have the anticipation and the footwork to follow up to be in the right position to return the ball?
 

FiReFTW

Hall of Fame
#17
Consistency was a major problem for me a year or two ago. I sounded similar, had really good strokes and a good serve that should have pulled me through matches but found myself double faulting and my serve collasping. My strongest weapon was crumbling and spraying everywhere (forehand) and got angry easily. I found that I need to start focusing point by point and not think ahead too much. One point at a time and dial back the power a bit. I can hit very big off both wings and I've hit some amazing shots from them both sides. My opponents would struggle to get them back and hit a short mid court slice back to me or a floater and then I couldn't put away the next shot and overcooked things a bit. I was trying to end points in 4 or 5 shots instead of extending rallys just a bit longer and wait for a higher percentage opportunity to successfully hit winners. Once I dialed back just a touch I become more consistent and the tables turned finally. It can for you too. I know it's frustrating, I've been there.
This helps me too, what you mention about not thinking too much and thinking too ahead

I tend to play bad when I think about stuff too much and the score and how its going to turn out, example:
Damn its 40:30, I NEED THIS POINT *gets tight*
Damn its 2nd serve and its 30:40, CRAP WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T MISS, GET IT IN *gets tight*
Damn its 5:4 and 40:30, if I lose this I lose the whole set *gets tight*

But when I focus on doing things and by playing POINT by POINT, instead of the whole game or set or match, I do alot better, example:
Its 2nd serve, ok im going to hit this serve at that spot, vizualize it and then just do it (no thinking about I need to get it in or its 30:40, just tell miself im going to hit it THERE and do it)
Whatever the score is 0:0, 15:30, 40:40, 40:0 is absolutely the same, the only thing im thinking in EACH and EVERY point I play, is playing to win THAT point, hitting the ball clean and well, moving well, fighting for every ball, and then I win that point, and only then do I move to the next point, now my only goal is again just to win THIS point and then NEXT point, step by step, no thinking ahead or anything, only focusing on that point like my goal is to win every single point I play and thats that.
The only thing I am aware of in terms of the match itself, is my strategy, how im going to play the point and what my goal is and tactic is to win that point, there I think ahead or how to setup the point, or be aware that if im 40:0 up im going to go for it more and risk a bit more, less safe tennis and more aggressive, either win the point or not.
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#18
A lot of great replies!

I think many of you are right about the mental toughness aspect. Even when I'm not overly nervous, I get a little tighter and more timid.

Like chikoo guessed, I believe the reason I can be inconsistent has to do with being in the right position. I'm plenty fast, but my anticipation and spacing aren't the best. Those seem like tougher fixes than technique problems, honestly, since no one can say "here's how to create the correct spacing for the shot."

It is true that I'm playing against very good players, so some of it is just them out playing me. What bothers me most is that I can't "suffer" for the loss and really grind it out.
 
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J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
#20
1. Mental toughness comes from physical toughness, get in the best shape you possibly can.

2. Drill hundreds of balls with purpose, don't just hit around with your friends. 50 balls cross court 50 down the line. Short ball putaways, deep loopers, sharp angles. Practice your serve. You won't get nervous about missing something you do 50 times in a row every week. You don't say oh no I better not screw this up when you tie your shoes, that's what a second serve should be like.

J
 
#21
+1

You ain't at Wimbledon. W's and L's aren't even important enough to qualify as trivia. Amateur matches exist only to determine bragging rights during happy hour. And bragging rights go not to the winner of the match, but to the guy who hit the most beautiful shots during the match.
Amen. In the beginning I would get so tight at a league or tournament match it would be ridiculous. Took me little while but this mentality ( it's just a game ) has freed me up and I play much better than before. I'm as competitive as anyone but I've got it in balance now.
 
#22
It is difficult/impossible to know why you lose unless you post a video of a loss showing every single point. Then it would be pretty simple to analyze what you need to do and not do.
 
#25
You need a different metric other than match wins and losses. Even points won/lost aren't that great a measure. Instead, find a pattern or one small thing to focus on during a match and keep track of how well you honor that one thing. Every groundstroke deep. Every serve to the backhad. Only attack short balls. Always approach off short balls. Etc.

If you mostly execute that one small thing, that's a victory that's completely independent of the score. That tells you that you know how to focus and execute that specific thing. Once you can consistently execute that one small thing, consider how that thing affects your scoring - does it result in more or less points for you?

You need to separate technical execution of a tactic and the tactical choice itself. Maybe you honored your plan to attack short balls the whole time - but you ran up against a guy playing out of his mind and who passed you at will. Only looking at the W or the L means you screwed up. It's more complicated than that. Your execution was right today. Perhaps that specific tactical choice against that specific guy on this particular day was wrong. Both of those things are lost lessons if all you see is the L. Another day you honored that plan but played like garbage - but still won. That's the kind of day that players who win a lot have all the time. Players who don't win a lot don't consistently execute technically, have no game plan, or don't honor their game plan. Get two of those three right and you'll win more. Get all three right and you'll win a lot more.

Feel like you've exhausted the possibilities of that one thing (over a month, or a league, whatever)? Now it's time to evaluate the next thing. Eventually, you'll have enough solid general strategies under your belt that you can be one of those players that's able to switch tactics in the middle of a match when something's not working.

There are a ton of players out there that believe that if they only executed their strokes the way they did in practice, they'd win all the time. Those players don't win very much. Good game plans and good tactical choices often win even when you're having a crappy day in terms of technical execution.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
#26
I have the opposite problem. I play singles at 5.0 level, but I can't seem to get my forehand to look any better than 4.0.
I was on the court next to you, playing doubles.
I knew you were 4.5, because I knew you from TW posts, and heard you were coming by.
My 3 partner's didn't even think to look over, thinking you'd be tested by JC. I told them, "look at that guy, he's pretty good" They laughed at me, all of us varying 4.0's, including JC.
I've been playing since 1974, and know that strokes alone don't make a player good. I actually watched you frustrate and dismantle JC, during our points, so I didn't play very well.
 
#27
Seriously. Several certified pros have commented on how solid my strokes are. I have read so much and watched so many videos that I pretty much know the correct strategies for match play.

BUT. This does not translate into winning tennis. I just can't find a way to win in most matches.

Not surprisingly, it mostly comes down to not being able to be consistent enough. I'm not able to "suffer" for my losses and make my opponents play.

Here's the problem: that knowledge can't help me win. Even if I say "okay, just get the ball in play" there is no improvement in consistency. In fact, I often get more timid and things get worse.

I know the standard answers like use directionals, attack your opponents weakness, play your strength to their weakness, etc.

Still, I can't win tennis matches.

Sorry this is a bit of a vent, but I'd love to hear any thoughts you guys have on competing.
3 Fs: footwork, focus, & fitness. How are you in all 3?

Assuming your footwork and fitness are at par, the most obvious starting point is mental toughness. For example, check out

 
#28
Seriously. Several certified pros have commented on how solid my strokes are. I have read so much and watched so many videos that I pretty much know the correct strategies for match play.

BUT. This does not translate into winning tennis. I just can't find a way to win in most matches.

Not surprisingly, it mostly comes down to not being able to be consistent enough. I'm not able to "suffer" for my losses and make my opponents play.

Here's the problem: that knowledge can't help me win. Even if I say "okay, just get the ball in play" there is no improvement in consistency. In fact, I often get more timid and things get worse.

I know the standard answers like use directionals, attack your opponents weakness, play your strength to their weakness, etc.

Still, I can't win tennis matches.

Sorry this is a bit of a vent, but I'd love to hear any thoughts you guys have on competing.
If you're not consistent enough, then your strokes aren't solid at all.
 
#29
Salzenstein tennis training put a product out called The Method. It's a comprehensive training programme covering a lot of things not normally taught. No idea how much it cost, wasn't cheap but has a lot of content worth considering including tactics, techniques, preparation, movement, etc. Maybe worth look. It's not a technique product but has pointers. Some of the topics are rarely taught and might give you the edge you need. Maybe sometime as simple as a proper warmup or better court movement techniques might make a difference. I'll have a look tonight and note some of the topics, it's mid winter here so only playing social, three years non stop 12 mth a year kind of worn me out.
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#31
I think vast majority of us feel like we execute better in practice than in a match that "counts" such as a league or tournament match. I think even pros experience this. I don't know your back ground but playing lots of league or tournaments matches can help you get over the nerves. But, I've been playing roughly 40 years now and still can feel a difference in practice vs league matches.

my thoughts:
1. practice solid technique that has a good chance of holding up when you are nervous. To me, this means learn to work the ball with spin on groundstrokes and serve so you can keep the ball in the court. You don't have to try to be a Nadal rpm monster but be able to work the ball with spin for control should be something you practice a lot. Rod Laver was quoted as saying that he was extremely nervous for Wimbledon finals and he said he just loaded the ball with topspin so it would at least stay in the court. This is perhaps the greatest player of all time using spin due to nerves. It happens to everyone.
2. commit to playing 70% tennis in matches. Meaning you aren't going to turn into a pusher when you miss a few. Still try to hit a 70% of max power basic moderately aggressive shot under match pressure. You can bump that up to 80% when you get a short ball that allows time to setup and unload, and you can scale that back to 60% if chasing and playing defense. Remember, going for the 90% to 100% screamer is frequently just another cop out - I'm nervous and they aren't going in so I'm just going to blast it and this rarely works.
3. read Allen Fox's book, I think it's called "winning the mental game". It's good and helps you keep an even keel in matches.
4. when most of us are nervous our feet slow down and we tend to not breath as deeply. Try to take deep relaxation breaths between points. Be sure to split step when opponent hits and try to prep early and keep the feet going.
5. I tend to keep game plans simple - hit CC groundstrokes, attack any weak strokes you notice, come in to net to add pressure to opponent, approach DTL to keep the ball in front of you, try to get 65%+ 1st serves in to avoid giving them lots of 2nd serves.
As I'm reflecting on my matches, I realize that there are points where I "ease up" on my racquet head speed.

Would you guys say that RHS should stay pretty close to 70% on all normal rally shots, even ones that are low, high, etc? Obviously touch shots and slice would require a little lower RHS, but normal groundstrokes?
 
#32
As I'm reflecting on my matches, I realize that there are points where I "ease up" on my racquet head speed.

Would you guys say that RHS should stay pretty close to 70% on all normal rally shots, even ones that are low, high, etc? Obviously touch shots and slice would require a little lower RHS, but normal groundstrokes?
If you are thinking about racquethead speed, that's half the problem. Your racquethead speed shouldn't change that much between your "safe-neutral" high-ball heavily spun rally shot and your "pull-the-trigger" flat aggressive shot. It's just the swingpath that changes.

The former should be darn close to 100% reliability without missing. The latter can still work if it's 70% chance of going in, as long as you are seeing a payoff by wining the point almost everytime. For most people 4.0 and lower, there are very few times when it makes sense to actually pull the trigger (i.e., times when the ball is sitting up above the net and you can hit from inside the service line). (That's why pushers win a lot).

You should be relaxed for both types of shot.
 
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HunterST

Hall of Fame
#33
If you are thinking about racquethead speed, that's half the problem. Your racquethead speed shouldn't change that much between your "safe-neutral" high-ball heavily spun rally shot and your "pull-the-trigger" flat aggressive shot. It's just the swingpath that changes.

The former should be darn close to 100% reliability without missing. The latter can still work if it's 70% chance of going in, as long as you are seeing a payoff by wining the point almost everytime. For most people 4.0 and lower, there are very few times when it makes sense to actually pull the trigger (i.e., times when the ball is sitting up above the net and you can hit from inside the service line). (That's why pushers win a lot).

You should be relaxed for both types of shot.
Yeah, I mean I never consciously think "I'm going to slow down my RHS." I'm just thinking about some shots where I get tentative, the weight transfer gets iffy and, as a result, the RHS slows.
 
#34
It is mental. When you practice, do you see an opportunity and just nail the shot? That's the type of focus and mentality needed to play well in matches. You just hit the shot rather than thinking about it, because if you do, you will mess it up. You have to be relaxed and yet still focused enough to take advantage of opportunities when practicing and playing for 'real.' In a lot of practice sessions, players will start a rally from the baseline, hitting 3-4 balls at 70%. Then on the next ball, the point starts in earnest and they start trying to put the other player out of position before hitting a winner. They are a lot more relaxed when doing this than playing a real match. Yet I see them get tentative in matches, and they shouldn't be because they have hit the same shot in practice 00's or 000's of times. Saying it is harder than doing it until you can prove to yourself that you can do it, e.g. play the same way you practice.
 
#35
Do you have the anticipation and the footwork to follow up to be in the right position to return the ball?
I think chikoo is on the right track here. Notice all the greats (with the rare exceptions like big servers) are the best of the best movers. And remember, moving is not just chasing down a ball but also how you move to receive the ball well and also how to move during recovery.

Also Imo, consistent is Not just getting the ball in. In winning tennis, consistency is hitting your shots consistently....not some lesser shots trying to keep it in. I have to plug the Smart Targets here as this is why I designed them....to help players be more clear on safer, smarter zones of the court to hit to aggressively and consistently. Aim small, miss small and keep your good shots in. Be aggressive with your swing and spin, but not your targets during the rally game.

Lastly, you need to vid a match and chart where your winners and forced errors are vs where your UES are.
Are they Fh rally, Bh rally or do they come inside the BL when attacking?

good luck!
 

chikoo

Hall of Fame
#36
I think chikoo is on the right track here. Notice all the greats (with the rare exceptions like big servers) are the best of the best movers. And remember, moving is not just chasing down a ball but also how you move to receive the ball well and also how to move during recovery.

Also Imo, consistent is Not just getting the ball in. In winning tennis, consistency is hitting your shots consistently....not some lesser shots trying to keep it in. I have to plug the Smart Targets here as this is why I designed them....to help players be more clear on safer, smarter zones of the court to hit to aggressively and consistently. Aim small, miss small and keep your good shots in. Be aggressive with your swing and spin, but not your targets during the rally game.

Lastly, you need to vid a match and chart where your winners and forced errors are vs where your UES are.
Are they Fh rally, Bh rally or do they come inside the BL when attacking?

good luck!
Yup! Once you have the anticiption & the footwork, the next thing you need to wrap this up is ability to place your shots, be it low power or high speed, in parts of the court where it becomes difficult for your opponent to get. That would entirely be dependant on where he is on the court at that moment. Which means you need to be able to study and size up your opponent, fast, if this is your first time.
 
#37
Yup! Once you have the anticiption & the footwork, the next thing you need to wrap this up is ability to place your shots, be it low power or high speed, in parts of the court where it becomes difficult for your opponent to get. That would entirely be dependant on where he is on the court at that moment. Which means you need to be able to study and size up your opponent, fast, if this is your first time.
Yes, being able to move and receive the ball well has a tremendous effect on your ability to control and place your shots. This is one of the big reasons we should move our opponents around a lot, because it increases the amount of errors most players will make.
 
#38
Did you experiment with a couple of different racquets? I played with players' racquets (PS 85, PS 88, Prince Tour Diablo Mid, Volk PB 10 mid) because I liked the plush and heavy feel of hitting with those racquets. I've always dismissed the Babolats as gimmick racquets even though I'm just an average player. Last couple of weeks I've been playing with the Pure Drive and I'm kicking myself for not playing with it earlier. I've always been able to generate my own power but with the players' racquets, even underpowered ones like the Volkl PB10 mid, too often in matches, I would start off hitting long and then compensate, get more timid and hit weak shots or hit hard shots into the net. Practices were fine but the trust factor in games where I could rip my shot without thinking, was just not there. With the Pure Drive, I've not made any change to my game but I'm beating the guys I knew I should have been beating all along, giving a tough fight to guys I thought I was not in the same league with, and more importantly I trust the racquet. I swing hard and know that more often than not the ball is staying in. I don't know if I'll end up with a tennis elbow due to this racquet, but, no matter what people say, I can see how racquets can make such a huge difference to one's game. The ability to go from defense to offense in an instant is such a huge advantage.

If you're hitting well in practice, are reasonably fit, and there is a trust factor with your shots in games, before you do some of the other things suggested in this thread, give a different racquet a try. Maybe you're already using a Babolat and want to go in the opposite direction. Just a thought.
 
#39
...I've always dismissed the Babolats as gimmick racquets even though I'm just an average player. Last couple of weeks I've been playing with the Pure Drive and I'm kicking myself for not playing with it earlier...
Babolat rackets are gimmicks. Pure Drives and Pure Aeros allow you to hit harder with more spin and you win more. What a scam!
 
#40
I like the racket comment. Find one that you can hit your best shots more.

I like heavy rackets currently but for a while I was getting physically tired and losing 2nd 3rd sets.

Best way to win is hold serves and go crazy trying to break. Easier said then done.

Do what's been working when you are winning. Keep pounding!

What's your normal game plan?
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#43
I think chikoo is on the right track here. Notice all the greats (with the rare exceptions like big servers) are the best of the best movers. And remember, moving is not just chasing down a ball but also how you move to receive the ball well and also how to move during recovery.

Also Imo, consistent is Not just getting the ball in. In winning tennis, consistency is hitting your shots consistently....not some lesser shots trying to keep it in. I have to plug the Smart Targets here as this is why I designed them....to help players be more clear on safer, smarter zones of the court to hit to aggressively and consistently. Aim small, miss small and keep your good shots in. Be aggressive with your swing and spin, but not your targets during the rally game.

Lastly, you need to vid a match and chart where your winners and forced errors are vs where your UES are.
Are they Fh rally, Bh rally or do they come inside the BL when attacking?

good luck!
I try to aim for the middle of whatever quadrant I'm hitting to. In matches, I will sometimes get ambitious and go for a riskier shot.

I liked your smart targets concept, but I'm a little wary of going for such sharp angles. I think I would've apt to hit wide fairly often.
 
#44
3 Fs: footwork, focus, & fitness. How are you in all 3?
From the OP's lament, this is pretty much what I'd tell him as a coach if we were standing on a court together. Then I'd take it one step further and tell him to ignore two of the three F's.

If your fitness is on point, you can get away with the world's sloppiest footwork, because you're always to the spot on or ahead of time, and microadjusting becomes orders of magnitude easier. You feel less hurried, and you always get to take your complete, relaxed, rhythmic windup, and your complete stroke. You rarely have to hit balls well out of your strike zone. Everything about your game becomes physically easier.

And when everything about the game becomes as physically easy as stroke practice against the ball machine, your mental side tends to fall into line as well. With less to worry about, you worry less, and enjoy more. Suddenly, you're just hitting ideal feed after ideal feed. What could be easier?

It's my experience that when it comes to mental problems, 8/10 completely disappear when a player becomes adequately (and by "adequately," I mean extremely) fit. 1 out of 10 or so the guy is just a choker, and if you've ever watched professional sports, you know that even the wealthiest athletes in the world, with access to the most highly paid and regarded sports psychologists on the planet, virtually never overcome this. Once a choker, always a choker.

The other 1 out of 10 is just too stubborn to learn, or an idiot, and there ain't no fixin' either one.
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
#45
I try to aim for the middle of whatever quadrant I'm hitting to. In matches, I will sometimes get ambitious and go for a riskier shot.

I liked your smart targets concept, but I'm a little wary of going for such sharp angles. I think I would've apt to hit wide fairly often.
How long have you been playing tennis?
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#46
How long have you been playing tennis?
About 9 years.

Let me clarify, these problems arise against solid 4.5 players. I can hit consistently all day against 4.0 and below players. if I fire up a ball machine, I'll make 9 out of 10 from either wing.

I just mean I'm not consistent enough in my shot production to beat solid 4.5 players.
 

Nellie

Hall of Fame
#47
I would focus on preparing earlier and/or taking a smaller back swing. I find that you get used to turning and swinging in response to balls at a particular pace, but once things get faster, you will start rushing because the ball gets to you faster, which leads to errors. When I am playing a big hitter, I will play almost like I am returning serves (i.e., short take back of the racquet just to my hip) for a couple of games to get used to the pace/timing and to hit with less power since the incoming ball already as a lot of kinetic energy.
 
#48
If you are only making 9 out of 10 against the ball machine, then it means you are practicing A shot that is too risky to be useful in rallies against good players.

If your stroke doesn't allow you to hit 100 balls in a row in the court, then you should be practicing for more margin. If you never practice your 100% reliable shot, how can you expect it to be ready when you need it in match play?

My forehand me be fugly and have 4.0 form, but I can hit 100 in a row past the service line, so I can easily handle most 4.5 players by waiting for that 9 out of 10 ball that misses. On average it only takes 5 balls to get your error.
 
#49
About 9 years.

Let me clarify, these problems arise against solid 4.5 players. I can hit consistently all day against 4.0 and below players. if I fire up a ball machine, I'll make 9 out of 10 from either wing.

I just mean I'm not consistent enough in my shot production to beat solid 4.5 players.
Well...that's a different thing than what I thought you wrote initially. I thought you had consistency issues in general in matches.

If you're struggling against more advanced players, it is because they are advanced :) Against lower level players you can wait for the person to make a mistake, you can get away with weaker shots and not be punished, you can hit some winners that the more advanced player will retrieve....and on and on. Not to mention the speed and depth of the advanced player's shots might be bothering you even though you feel it is not. Just a slight increase in speed/depth can throw off your shot.

Just play with more 4.5s, get used to that better level of competition, and try to increase pace slightly on the shot that you are most comfortable with. As opponents get better, you'll have to develop some weapons to bother them. You'll get less and less freebies.
 
#50
@HunterST I have been exactly where you are.

It took me entirely too long to figure out what was going on in my head. The strokes in practice were not the ones that were on the match court. I was playing timidly.
I was playing to Not Lose. I was not playing with any fun or joy. Playing not to lose is not the same as playing to win.

I came to a point where I just said f*&k it, I am just going to go out there and have fun and who cares what the score is.
Turns out with that attitude, I have a pretty good game!

This attitude shift came at the same time that I did a tournament where the director put some lower level players into my draw. That probably gave me some needed confidence as well.

So, play with joy and not caring about the scoreboard ... you may be surprised what happens.
 
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