Losing To "Worse" Players

Mountain Ghost

When I hear a teaching pro say the words "I don't care what your strokes LOOK like" ... I know he is pandering to the crowd of players who would rather have good scores ... than have good technique. And so I would advise NEVER hiring him as a pro ... the insight offered being a bit short on "vision-value." He might teach you to have the short-term benefit of marginally "better" quantifications of past events (which is all a "score" really is) ... but to the detriment of focusing on what actually makes your shots BETTER. To be clear ... sometimes when evolving to a higher level ... especially when under the guidance of a qualified pro ... there may be 4 aspects of a stroke that need to change. But the brain cannot really focus on 4 things at once ... which means you might have to work on 1 ... (maybe 2 max) ... thing(s) at a time ... and the immediate effectiveness of the stroke may actually appear to diminish ... as the player is required to "demolish" one muscle memory at a time ... and then rebuild it properly. Being a teaching pro for many years ... there are times I don't even care if the ball a student hits goes in ... as I work on these individual aspects separately. Of course I have the benefit of a logical plan ... and I know exactly what I'm looking for in each particular moment ... that typically has NOTHING to do with score. In the long run ... even when KEEPING score ... it's ALL about what the preparation ... positioning ... and strokes ... "LOOK LIKE"! In short ... you MUST simply get over your ego's addiction to "winning" ... and focus on process.

I won't elaborate too much ... but addiction to ego is why American kids give up tennis ... and why Europeans ... especially Eastern Europeans ... tend to reach higher levels ... ... ... they are culturally better-equipped at putting a harness on their preoccupation with score ... during a 100% process-oriented point.

~ MG


I can feel the dilemma as a teaching pro, think about it.... the students are most likely 3.0 or 3.5, they all "think" they have beautiful form but they actually have ugly form, and they lost and they think they shouldn't lose to the other players who have "ugly" form, when to the pros eyes, the one with "better" and "better looking" form is winning, the "ugly" form is the one who lost.

But to protect their ego, the pros cannot just say to their face that "face the reality, your form is the one that looks ugly", so they have to have a narrative that helps answer the question that those beginners have who have huge ego to calm down hopefully.

I know this because I used to be that beginner who complain about everything and later realized how bad and ugly my form was and that makes sense why I lose a lot or not playing well (I didn't have the knowledge to optimally get to the right position, and swing to get the ball I wanted).
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Dan Huben

There is the theory of too much too soon. The lower level players do serve up opportunities and the better players talk themselves into trying to take everyone to the fences. Slower moving, or higher bouncing balls are a different breed that that dreamed of Rafa ts FH or the Stan OHBH can be applied to.

The better player doesn’t hit the winner. Gets tight and plays worse than the lower level player. Now (s)he’s talking to themself during the serve. Just one ace, God. Please? Double Fault. The first serve in the next, the second long. Next serve is a dink. The worse returner hits a slow non spinning lob back that the better player in their head talk says bash it while watching it without moving and whales on it when it bounces too close and drives it long.

The worse player wins and the better player seethes while claiming pusher/ girls tennis. Does your wife play?

Better players. Truly better players don’t mentally destruct at a lost point. But those of us that are better than our peers but not better players in the absolute sense do.

Common wisdom on this board is that pushing is only effective to a certain level. I think that’s true but not because of technique improvement by the better player, but more of the mental stability to wait for that incoming ball, and wait, and wait without the self talk to turn the amps up to 11.

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Yes on that day but it just illustrates the point. Sometimes better players lose to worse players now we can go on to discuss how to avoid it.
u dont get it
i know guys that lose to pushers TEN times in a row
and still claim to be a better player.


u dont get it
i know guys that lose to pushers TEN times in a row
and still claim to be a better player.
Sorry you don't get it. If player A has 10-0 h2h vs player B and lose the 11th time player A is till the better player probably but player B was better on that day BUT the better player still lost to the worse player. I can't elaborate it any more.

You are correct that if one player lose ten times in a row to somebody he lost to a better player, simple.


Hall of Fame
My take from years of experience playing, others may find differences.
I've been trained and hit reasonable classic ground strokes. When I hit these strokes at 50-60% they look nice but bounce to about hip height like a strong feed and get crushed. If I increase in topspin and depth 15% then they become an issue.
Good looking strokes with no weight are basically feeds. Need to either increase weight, more topspin and speed or slice. Lower levels elevation {loop} helps but better to get from additional topspin rather than hitting up.
Anyway, point being increase speed, weight, depth and consistency a little will help a lot.
As you go up in competition gimics tend to be less effective. Low level tennis has guys squash shotting the ball and weird side spin serves or under spin serve. There's a point where these shots don't work and only used as last resort.
Sound fundamentals can be built upon. They might initially be feeders in a world or weird back yard shots but once they are honed and you can start upping the weight and consistency and have options like pushing to net agaist pushers. You'll start to look at this weirdness as weak.
Note: a high class pusher who's fit is always hard to play if you can't dominate them. But we shouldn't be taking about the Ferrers and Gilbert's of the world as they are technically sound and not really pusher.


Bionic Poster
The only worry is if you start freezing up, double faulting, hitting too soft or too hard, trying strokes you have never hit before, etc. If you play your usual game and lose, it is nothing to worry about.