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.
Look a lot of people have advice about this. If you were like me for a time, no amount of practice, physical fitness, knowledge will be of help. You rally awesome in the warm up but as soon as the 1st serve is struck, you, well I couldn't keep the ball in the court. It was like I forgot about how to hit a smooth relaxed stroke and everything I hit had to be hit at 150%. I was scared that the opponent was going to make me hit another ball. I had to end everything with one shot. I had to hurt my opponent every shot. I would relax and rally to see what would happen, I had to force something to happen. It was almost like I rather hit the curtain with my shot than let my opponent hit a winner on me. At this point of my life, that mental state that amounted to a lot of losing. I want to play so badly but when I got there, on the court, I was stressed and miserable.
I did a lot of soul searching about this. Eventually, I actually was able to figure out the cause. For 2 seasons my team played me on court 1 where I should of been playing court 2 or 3. I ran into NCAA players, teaching pros, ranked juniors all the time. I was so worried about looking bad, it turns out, that it translated into my tennis game. I was so worried about 'fronting' i forgot how to hit the ball let alone the strategy of playing. I had something to 'prove'. Eventually it led to the demise of my game.
Anyhow, I think you get the point.
So how did I get out of this funk? I made up my mind that if I didn't start enjoying myself during a match (not only hitting) I was going to quit. I knew my game was good. I've been rated a 5.0 in my early days. I knew my level but just had to get out my own way. How?
I started to.....
'Live in the challenge'.
Too much of my time was dedicated to what I thought before the point and what I thought after the point. Meanwhile, I forgot to 'live' in the challenge. Love the fight, live in the 'now'. You can only affect what you are doing at this moment so go 'hit' the god damn ball and love it. Chase down those wide balls, chase down those lobs, winner, unforced error, who the hell cares. 'Hit the ball you are hitting right now. Don't worry about his next service game, don't worry about yours. Devote everything into the now, this shot, this point.
Also, Dance with the one you came with. This means, stop analyzing your game and technique and your racquet. Go out there and focus on what you want to do with the ball, not how to do it. You've already put the long hours in. Let it happen. Visualize the ball path and trust your body to make the shot. Stop trying to be Roger Federer. Rather, use your weapons to the best of your ability. And if you lose, he/she was just better that day.
Lastly, pre-accept that you might lose but also that you might win. Give yourself permission to do both. In the end, no will really care in the end but you. Think about how often you think about someone elses game. Do you judge their self worth on his/her ability to hit a ball? Would you call them a 'Moron' if they missed a ball when you were playing doubles with them? Why do we treat ourselves poorly when we make our own mistakes? Treat yourself nicer on the court and you'll be surprised how a little self-kindness will help you.
Hunter, I know this is a lot of pack in. But all of it is really coming from my own experience. What it really comes down to, probably, is some point you forgot this was a game. You forgot to 'play' and love the 'play'. You got to wrapped up in what people thought of you as a player, you got wrapped up in their expectations like I did. We wouldn't play this game if it wasn't challenging. You should love that challenge, love going up against the best. Realize 'winning' is actually out of your control. Get out of the expectations and into the points.
In end, it's you and a little fuzzy yellow tennis ball on one side of a court. What you do with it is all up to you.