What exactly happens with mental tension during a stroke?

Curious

Legend
How exactly mental tightness affect the stroke?
How do you make an error due to nerves?
One obvious thing is tension in your body, arm, grip etc but what else does happen in the body that contribute to the bad execution of strokes?
 
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socallefty

Legend
Feet don’t get to the right place leading to bad spacing, eyes don’t focus well to watch the ball carefully leading to more mishits/shanks and tight muscles seem to move slower and cause timing problems during the stroke. It is easy to decelerate during a stroke and have low racquet head speed (RHS) when you are tight particularly on serves or generate less spin and hit balls out due to contacting the ball too late compared to a normal relaxed groundstroke.
 
In practice, for the most part, you are free to watch the ball track its flight, move into position, work on the smoothness and
sameness of your strokes- you are relaxed, at ease- you develop a rhythm, become connected to the ball.

Of course once you begin a match the opponent want to do everything to disrupt all those things you practiced.
You may start out playing strongly and confidently, but a good opponent will sense your frailties, make you feel
awkward and self doubt creeps in. Things/ideas swirl through your mind- you begin to "double-think" and evaluate you strokes
when you should bee hitting freely. You go for too much to compensate for that feeling of falling behind. Taking more risks causes more mistakes-
the cycle feedd on itself.

What can you do? Many of us have a prefered style of play- we practice that and gain confidence because we are good at it but we should not
ignor the other aspects of the game- that you seldom practice because it is not as fun. Make a list of all the varous strokes, shots, movements that
will round out your game and practice them all so you will have fewer weaknesses to take advantage of.

Often times, a person who has a strong desire to win, also has a strong fear of losing. Think of it this way- it's just a game. If you are a 4.0 or 4.5, there are
millions? of players better than you. You are out there for fun, excercise, you just want to play the ball, not the spectators, not the ranking, not your self-image.
If nothing else, think of the opponent as a friend, someone essential to the game- without him you would be standing there alone with nothing to do.
 
D

Deleted member 780836

Guest
You know all the checkpoints of a stroke, but mental tightness will cause you to incorrectly execute one of the initial steps and everything that follows is terrible. Eg- you toss a little higher or lower or too much into the court, everything that follows will be terrible.
 

Ash_Smith

Legend
Weh have to start with what happens when the body is placed under stress/perceives a threat. (A simplification) adrenaline is released into the system to prepare the body for either flight (get out of the situation), fight (get out of the situation) or freeze (hope the situation goes away). Freeze occurs becuase whilt adrenaline is great for preparing muscles to operate extremely effecively in a short period of time, it also causes sections of the brain to shut down as it drives blood and oxygen to the limbs. Unfortunately it shuts down the areas of the bran responsible for thinking - it's know as mind blindness and it's why human beings often make poor decisins under times of high stress (or even no decisions).
 

Mountain Ghost

Professional
"Mental Tightness" ... could more accurately be labeled as "mental distraction" ... (and/or anxious anticipation) ... which happens when the mind gets too absorbed in things that are not happening NOW ... during the point. When the mind "WANTS" anything too much ... the animal body instinctively starts leaning ... rushing ... "grabbing" ... muscling etc. ... ... ... which destroys balance ... timing ... preparation ... flexibility ... etc.

The best players don't let their highly active brains impair their finely tuned and emotionally detached ... almost beyond-natural ... technical process.

~ MG
 

ZanderGoga

Semi-Pro
1. Unconscious incompetence.

2. Conscious incompetence.

3. Conscious competence.

4. Unconscious competence.

Mental tightness is everywhere during step three, and is largely gone by step four, except for incurable basket cases. The way to get from three to four fastest, is to model something adequate, then STOP looking for ways to improve upon it/worrying about whether it's optimal, and instead just practice it till it's second nature.

The way to never get from three to four is to keep asking questions about step three till you're so paralyzed by indecision and analysis that you can't function. Fabrice Santoro made up a whole new way to play ATP level tennis. He found weird **** that worked for him, and got to the business of perfecting it. If he'd have spent that time worrying about whether his shadow strokes looked enough like Mats Wilander's or whether or not Cedric Pioline pronated sooner than he did, he'd have sliced his forehand over the back fence all day and gone on to a lucrative career selling insurance.
 
1. Unconscious incompetence.

2. Conscious incompetence.

3. Conscious competence.

4. Unconscious competence.

Mental tightness is everywhere during step three, and is largely gone by step four, except for incurable basket cases. The way to get from three to four fastest, is to model something adequate, then STOP looking for ways to improve upon it/worrying about whether it's optimal, and instead just practice it till it's second nature.

The way to never get from three to four is to keep asking questions about step three till you're so paralyzed by indecision and analysis that you can't function. Fabrice Santoro made up a whole new way to play ATP level tennis. He found weird **** that worked for him, and got to the business of perfecting it. If he'd have spent that time worrying about whether his shadow strokes looked enough like Mats Wilander's or whether or not Cedric Pioline pronated sooner than he did, he'd have sliced his forehand over the back fence all day and gone on to a lucrative career selling insurance.
ironically, there is very little mental tightness at stage 1. It grows through stage 3 and then takes a dive.
 

Ash_Smith

Legend
1. Unconscious incompetence.

2. Conscious incompetence.

3. Conscious competence.

4. Unconscious competence.

Mental tightness is everywhere during step three, and is largely gone by step four, except for incurable basket cases.
So you've never seen an elite athlete struggle under pressure, or not deliver to their true capabilities or simply not perfrom at all on the "big day"
 

Curious

Legend
Let’s change it up a little.
Suppose everything is set up nicely for a forehand , you read the ball well, got into position, turned and took the racket back on time etc, now you’re ready to swing. What’s the most important thing now to prevent a screw-up?
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
How much of this mental tension/choking/yips is due to the difficult biomechanical nature of tennis? Is it related to the level of skill and accuracy needed?

I am sure the problem is there in all sports, but is it greater in some than others? I don't feel it in table tennis. In cricket, it appears that the batsman is most likely to feel the pressure. What about pickleball? What about a soccer forward under pressure to convert a pass to a goal? A free throw in basketball?

I think tennis has a unique requirement of large court coverage, technically difficult strokes, and a 1-1 duel with a very clear winner and loser and no team to fall back upon. This amplifies mental issues.
 
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