My competitive headache...

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by T-Vex, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. T-Vex

    T-Vex Rookie

    Aug 6, 2010
    Sory if this is not a topic for this sub-forum :oops:

    Its simple: since I'm playing in my two recreational competitions, I have NEVER EVER won a championship tiebreak.

    Someone might say: well, you're not to intelligent. You've been outsmardted. Maybe, but ALL THE FREAKING TIME?

    No, actually I know where is the problem, its in my head. I have unbeliavable fear of losing, even when I play matches in which I have nothing to lose (like today, I was playing one of 3-4 best players in the competition which I already won once this year, but in a friendly match).

    Maybe its not even fear of a loss. In begging it was definitely, but today, I think it has grown into fear of super-tiebreak itself. Why, I have no clue. This year I even managed to lose a match against really wrecked player (you might ask, if hes that bad, how the hell did he took a set from you in the first place - I played injured last half of a match), altghough I had a lead of huge 5-0!!!

    Today, I was determined to stop this spree. To end it once for all times, in a match where wasnt even expected to win (my ranking was 18th, his 2nd). But yet I managed to get scared again, my arms went totally stiff, my legs felt like I was dying... was **3-4, I served two double faults. Before first of those two, I was constatnly repeating in my head: you'll make a DF; you'll surely make a DF now... And I did. I made two consecutive DFs eventhough I made only one (or MAAYYBE two) before in the whole match.

    Then I unluckily slipped in the next point, and it was 3-7*. The end.

    I lost again. ANd Im very, VERY frustrated. This curse or whatever it is has been following for a while, but today...
    I just cannot take this anymore, just cannot!!!
    I'm thinking about quiting competitions only becuase of that.

    The worst thing is: I actually played a great match, close to my maximum. Until the CTB. Then I was just another guy, another player.

    Is there a solution to my problem?
    I started to believe there isn't. Nothing helps. I can repeat to my self one hundred times things like: "you are better, you have him served, loosen your arms, take the pressure off, play relaxed, play for the play itself, not for points..."

    but it doesnt happen. Bad Me always prevails. Negative Ego always takes over in crucial moments. And not only in tennis.

    I dont know how to get over it. There is so much matches that I have lost this year in which I could've and should've won.

    DUnno. Kill me.
  2. Wakenslam

    Wakenslam Rookie

    Jul 25, 2009
    Just a couple ideas...

    Treat a tiebreak like a regular set. The only difference is that you are playing points instead of games.

    Take comfort in the fact that once you start winning tiebreaks, the odds will be in your favor because most people will win about 50% of tiebreaks in their lifetime! :?
  3. sphinx780

    sphinx780 Hall of Fame

    Jun 14, 2006
    St. Paul, MN
    If telling yourself to relax isn't helping, how about trying to pump yourself up. For some personalities, hitting through the nerves (i.e. playing aggressively) can bring out some pretty good results.

    If you go in trying not to lose, you'll lose. So why not say 'F-it, I always lose these stupid things anyway so I'm going for broke'
  4. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Jun 2, 2006
    The Great NW

    What is your age?

    Tennis matchplay, (as you are excellent proof of) is extremely personally competitive, way more than timed sports (football, basketball etc) or limited length activities (golf, baseball etc).

    The tiebreaker is, of course the epitome of this. It is natural that your typical fears will be magnified at this time. Of course your opponent is probably feeling a version of the exact same thing, though given your record, you are dealing with this more than average.

    Getting more matchplay experience is the most common solution to this issue. You can try mental tricks as above to try to hasten this effect.

    Good luck with that, as I have never been impressed with these tricks. I hope they work for you.
  5. Fugazi

    Fugazi Professional

    Jul 19, 2010
    Just so you know where I'm coming from, I'm about a 5.5 player and a clinical psychologist.

    Maybe you could try to focus on hitting the way you want. No compromise. Just focus on hitting quality shots, one at a time, not so much on keeping the ball in play. Feel your shots, love your shots, go for your shots. Do this in practice too. Sometimes I like to just pretend that I'm Federer or something, and then I know I'm gonna go for a great second serve (it would be absurd for Federer to just push his serve in... or out), no matter what the score is.

    The point is: go for your shots, accept the fear, accept the possible failure (as opposed to fearing an inevitable failure), and only then you can go beyond it in a positive state of mind.

    One of my friends (a 5.5 player) used to simply accept that his first sets were going to be difficult because of nerves, and ironically it helped him. The point is he didn't deny it or fight it, he learned to accept that he'd be nervous. Only then could he go beyond his fear.

    On a more concrete note, you should probably also think about what goes wrong when you get nervous/negative. Too many unforced errors? Weak shots that let your opponent attack you? Etc.

    One last thing: everybody gets nervous. Even Federer in big matches. So it's normal, and you need to first accept it before you can surpass it.
  6. mikeler

    mikeler Moderator

    Sep 26, 2008
    Central Florida
    From a strategy stand point, try to quickly review what worked for you to get into that tiebreaker in the first place. Were you winning points by picking on the guys backhand or by bringing him into net or maybe you are hitting great forehands that day so you should try to run around your backhand. Maybe thinking of these things will help distract you from the nerves you feel too. Good luck.
  7. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

    Jun 15, 2007
    Hair's some tips on your dielemma:

    You need some liquid courage, stash a couple of tall brewskies in your bag and take sips on the change-overs.

    The tie-breaker is a macrocosm for the match--in reality you won.

    Practice playing tie-breakers.

    See a sports shrink for your self-esteem issues.

    Get a lucky rabbit's foot and keep it in your right pocket.
  8. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

    Mar 14, 2010
    What I tend to do is ask myself a question: "If I try to win and still lose, could I live with it?" The obvious answer should be yes, after all we are talking about one tennis match in (I assume) some USTA or other type of league. The biggest 'consequence' of losing is usually nothing more than a little disappointment. My loved ones will still love me. My friends will still like me. Life goes on.

    Once I make peace with the possibility of losing, I find it easier to put aside the tension and focus on trying to win.
  9. jpr

    jpr New User

    Apr 11, 2009
    being nervous is common. i'm not a coach, but this is what i tell my kids.

    during the TB
    1 - relax, breathe & visualize your shots. you likely have tie-break anxiety need to find a way to calm yourself

    2 - dont focus on the score...focus on the point & the ball and your footwork

    3 - dont play your strokes, trust your strategy, make your opponent play

    4 - do not allow negative thoughts to dominate your thinking. for example, as i'm preparing to serve occasionally the little voice in my head says "dont double fault". at that point, step away, gather yourself and start your pre-shot routine again.

    after the match / during practice
    - make sure you have a reliable 2nd serve that will not break down during a TB. double faults hurt worse in a TB

    - practice playing tiebreaks

    - practice service games where you start at 0-30

    if you have supreme confidence in your ability to hold serve during a TB, then you've put all the pressure on him. a couple good points on return decides the outcome.
  10. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Aug 29, 2009
    I probably played 12 tiebreakers this summer. I won 11. I love tiebreakers. My mental approach is its only 7 points to win a set. I can definitely go 100 percent intensity for 7 points. Even if I played a bad set. My game elevates in the tiebreaker because the thought of losing a tie breaker does not even enter my mind. A set is much longer... much harder to keep up your intensity and focus.
  11. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

    Jul 27, 2010
    On the deuce side, looking to come in
    I find I struggle more in TBs that I've backed into...rather than fought my way into. Perhaps it's a much of a momentum thing as anything.

    But some of the tips here are great! Try to focus on what worked during the set and, when in doubt.....go...with what you know!
  12. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Aug 31, 2006
    1. Catch every toss that is not perfect.

    2. Focus on moving your feet. Nothing else. Just the feet.
  13. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

    Mar 24, 2010
    As I get older I have come to respect experience more and more. To me nothing helped me get better in match tie breaks than more tie break experience.

    So to get more Match Tie break experience me and my regular hitting partner always finish with a 10 point tie breaker regardless of how many sets we played previously. Then to make it mean something we have decided the tie break winner gets to take home a new can of balls and the looser gets the used ones.

    Not a lot of pressure but certainly a tangable prize and trash talking opportunites. I have become a lot better at tie breakers and this was part of my strategy.
  14. T-Vex

    T-Vex Rookie

    Aug 6, 2010
    After a deduction process, I have come to this conclusion. Also, I have watched a lot of Novak Djokovic's matches, and that is exactly what he does when things get tough. And not only him, most top players (except, of course, Andy Murray) :)

    But, its easier said than done. I tell to my self: "play agressively now", but due to stiffness in limbs, I just spray balls all over the place. :(

    Almost 30. Playing tennis for about 15 years, but only this year I started to play on a more regular basis (1-3 times a week).

    Yes, and that was another thing I was telling myself yesterday.
    "Listen, he must've been more nervous than you, he as a fav in this match really has something to lose. Look how he doublefaults when you step in on 2nd serve!"

    But, worthless. My nervousness cannot be compared to anyone else's. Its unmeasureable!

    Yes, but its a PIP situation, or to be more precize: RIR (reality-in-reality). Of course I wont kill me self only because I lose all of my tennis matches. But, being unseccsesful (very unsuccesful that is!) in ANY part of one's life can make this depressive pattern spread into others spheres of life, the "bigger reality/picture).

    If you know what I mean...

    Makes sense. I bet a lot of guys think: yeah, this idiot must have BIG weak point in his game, when he's losing all of his CTBs where tactics, inteligence, perception (and of course coolness) matter.

    But its actually not true. The only weak point that comes to surfaces in my CTBs is - fear. Fear of score. I guess it must have something to do with my long tennis betting history (very, very stressful period i my life).
    I guess that's why I am so much burdened by current score.

    I know several players that find it hard to follow score, you have to tell them whats the score almost each point! I guess they must find all that score stuff less stresfull than me.

    I have done a lot, A LOT of thinking about my possible ways out of this position. Especially yesterday as I was traveling home after my CTB loss.

    And that is what I came up to, after all the deduction. One of possible solutions might be to:

    --> negate the competition itself, dont play for sake of the score, but for sake of playing NICE and SMART. For producing technically good shots, for having best possible footwork and focus. And for finding ultimate satisfaction not in my league rankings but in the way my tennis game looks.
    This sounds like best possible way to get out of the whole I fell into, but, I really, really, like competition. Any kind of competition. Even when playing Yahtzee, I feel an ubeliavable urge for win against my wife :)

    I actually enjoy competing in my rec competitions for all of the things competitions can offer. Adrenaline, success etc. So, Im not sure can I wrap all that off, put it under the carpet.

    On the other hand... Working on specific areas in my game, taking league matches as preparation in the path of becoming rec player I want to be, doesnt sound to bad.

    FE: Yesterday my oponnent was opening a lot of space on his forhend side, provoking me to go for a BH DTL shots when being stretched to my BH court. ANd I did, although my success rate was nowhere near what I wanted it to be. Maybe 2 out of 10 attemps where winner. Others went about a feet out...

    But, yet, something in me resisted to quit doing it.
    "FFS, I want stop trying to make this shot a weapon just beacuse it may win this match for me" sounded like a good premise at that point. Although, there are also a lot of other ways for being a good and effective player starting from that position, than just going for nasty winners from very hard positions!

    I have balance these things in my head, but you see that Im not that good when it comes to balancing and head

    Thank you all very much for answers and effort, and sorry for another long post! :oops:

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