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September 1, 2002
Every shot you hit has a mental challenge


Welcome to all the new subscribers to my email tennis lessons.  You will receive one long lesson on the first of every month and some quick tips in between.

Send your tennis buddies or whole team to www.tenniswarrior.com to sign up for their free email tennis lessons.

All past email lessons are posted at my website from 1 January 1998 to 1 September 2002. www.tenniswarrior.com


1. Are you watching the US Open?  Good!  Watch closely, according to conventional methods they all need a tennis lesson. :)   Enjoy the Open!

1. There are many ‘perfect' tennis players with ‘perfect' technical strokes out there, but I can tell you one thing, they are not in the top ten professionals of the world because the top ten are swinging, jumping, diving, and flailing at the ball with controlled abandonment!

2. Remember the basic principles for learning tennis with my system is to develop a ‘feel' for different strokes along with developing mental skills through REPETITION.  Repetition of simple procedures create that ‘feel' NOT an over emphasis on the technical skills and mechanics.  Click here for an article that I wrote on 'feel' vs 'mechanics' in April 2001

Tom's Online Tennis Lesson
Every shot you hit has a mental challenge

Welcome to Tom's Online Tennis Lesson, sponsored by TennisWarrior.com, "Where you can learn to think like a pro!" 

If you listen with an informed mind to the commentators in a professional tournament you will pick up many excellent pointers that often go unnoticed. Once such pointer came from Cliff Drysdale, a former top tennis professional from South Africa in the 60's and 70's. Cliff is now a television commentator for many professional tournaments. Personally I think he is an excellent commentator with a treasure of tennis knowledge. Many months back I heard him debate with his co-commentator about the validity of the open stance forehand versus the closed stance forehand. 

For those of you who are new to tennis, the open stand forehand is hitting with the body facing the net, whereas the closed stance the body is sideways. 

In the match they were watching Cliff argued that the forehand a pro just hit was fine with the open stance. The other commentator argued that it would have been better for the player to use the closed stance. I was on Cliff's side, if it were natural for the pro to hit with this stance...so be it! 

By the way the closed stance is generally accepted as correct with conventional methods. Although because of Bjion Borg and his tremendous success with the open stance, conventional methods are changing. Even at that, many teaching pros are still sticklers on the closed stance for beginning players. I have no problem with either the open or closed stance. I allow my students to use whatever is natural on a given shot. 

In the Indian Wells tournament Cliff Drysdale made a fascinating comment. After one of the pros hit a ball poorly he said, "every shot you hit has a mental challenge." Did you ever think in terms of each shot having a MENTAL CHALLENGE? Do you think the pros just hit the ball and that's that? When the pros play do you focus only on the external shot and are not aware of the internal challenges? If you do, you are missing the inner game of tennis! And missing a golden opportunity to improve your own game.

To start with you must understand the pros have the same challenges you have when hitting a ball. The difference in many cases is they have learned through experience to ignore the incorrect mindset and go with the correct mindset. 

Let's go over a few of the MENTAL CHALLENGES that exist in a match when hitting a ball. I am not going to explain in any detail what the correct mindset is in each situation, because the situations are too numerous. The point is, even though you may be hitting the same shot, THOSE SAME SHOTS ARE NOT THE SAME depending on the situation at hand. These situations require complete control of your mind to work your way through these MENTAL CHALLENGES. You must learn to recognize the different situations and adjust accordingly. Below is a list of some of those challenges. When reading these different situations imagine what it feels like inside at that moment, rather than your present state of mind when reading them. 

* Hitting a ball when you have made a mistake on your last shot.
* Hitting a ball when you've made a series of mistakes. 
* Hitting a ball in the opening points of a match.
* Hitting a ball to win a game when you are in the lead.
* Hitting a ball to keep you in the game when you are about to lose.
* Hitting a ball to win a match.
* Hitting a ball when you are about to lose a match.
* Hitting a ball to make a comeback after falling behind. 
* Hitting a ball to make a comeback after you were in the lead, than fell behind.
* Hitting a ball when your opponent is on a roll and playing aggressive and well.
* Hitting a ball after you have hit a brilliant shot, but lose anyway.
* Hitting a ball after you have had a long, long point and lost.
* Hitting a ball after you have had a long, long point and won.
* Hitting a ball after you have had a bad line call.
* Hitting a ball when your opponent is beating you badly.
* Hitting a ball when you are beating your opponent badly.
* Hitting a ball when the match is close.

That's right you are not just out there hitting balls, you are playing the moment, the situation, the mental balances of the match...always! Your challenge is to maintain a relaxed 'go for your shot' mentality regardless of these different mental situations. Sometimes you have to step up your game and increase your intensity and other times you have to slow down your game and not over play. 

Many players ask me how they can stop losing concentration because their mind wanders. With all these MENTAL CHALLENGES I don't know how their mind wanders that often!!! I can only think they are NOT keeping track of the MENTAL CHALLENGES of a match or perhaps they do not even know these MENTAL CHALLENGES exist. 

If you are one of those players maybe this lesson will help. Each shot has a different mental challenge. You must learn to not worry about playing perfectly, but instead learn to cope with the changing situations and be prepared mentally to QUICKLY adjust to the challenges at hand. In this fashion you will think exactly like the pros. 

Your tennis pro,

Tom Veneziano

APPENDUM: I teach a total system of thinking in regard to stroke production and mental attitude which I cannot explain in one email. Although each lesson can stand alone you will derive tremendous physical and mental benefit by understanding the total philosophy. These emails, my web site, books, and tapes are part of a course in tennis, not just isolated tennis tips. They all fit together into a system. A system that once understood can help you not only learn tennis at a faster rate, and develop mental toughness, but also give you the knowledge necessary to help guide your and your children to a better understanding of the developmental process. 

Click here for more information about my books and tapes


READER FEEDBACK - This is a long one, but a true Tennis Warrior is born! I appreciate his comments. I love it when players get it! Thanks again Tony

Hi Tom,

"Received your tapes and books last week and could not put them down (I have listened to your 4 tapes and read 'The Truth about Winning!' and 'The Relax Technique!' from cover to cover. I can't wait to put things into practice and will be reading them again and again believe me. I especially liked the fact that you made me think about what I was doing (or would do in certain situations), told me what I should be doing, proving it to me by examples, and then clarifying the principles, etc. Re-enforcement came throughout the books and tapes to bring home 
the points.

As an aside, I watched the Montreal Tournament on Eurosport last week and now I know how they get to the balls, I could nearly hear the players thinking to themselves as their game changed and the match progressed.

I would like to say how extremely valuable your books are and they are a real insight into sport and life (if you can make the connection like I did). 

I have been playing racket games for 35 years (without coaching) and started playing competitive squash 5 years ago and tennis 18 months ago (I am now 48)! For Tennis I decided to take some lessons, as there seemed to be a lot more to making the strokes than in Table Tennis, Badminton or Squash. I enrolled in two 6 week beginner courses and got the basics: hold the racket like this, stand still when hitting, pepare early, move forward when hitting, etc. etc. all good 'basic' stuff, but nowhere near your philosophy on teaching tennis and I don't think anyone at my club understands mental attitude.

Having a better mental attitude than most of the average tennis players at the club I joined (due to my previous racket sport experiences), it allowed me after a year of playing to take on most of the non team players and win! Up until now, I did not know particularly how this was happening, after all I was only a runner with not much skill and a little bit better mental attitude! Now I understand what a real mental attitude is and how to improve my court movement and why I was able to beat better (technical) players, etc. Court movement, the 'move in the direction of the ball' will change my game for ever! How simple. I will definitely be concentrating on doing the simple things better.

Watching tennis on the TV over the last year made me compare how the pros played against how I was taught. Guess what? The strange feeling I had that I was missing something was true. I would have never figured it all out for myself. 

Your tapes and books have saved me years of hard work. I don't believe that I would have come up with 25% of what I have learned from your information before I retired! I actually feel sorry for the people I will be playing from now on. What a great kick it is to know why I have not been performing as well as I thought I was capable of, and also being shown a way to greatly improve my game.

I have only had one chance to put your words into practice and I nearly beat a very good player just by applying two of your principles: 1. 'Moving in the direction the ball is going, as soon as I knew' and 2. 'Recovering' straight after my shots. Boy was my opponent shocked at some of my returns. I lost the match, but felt real good. 

I am going to stop now, as I could keep on singing the praises of the information that you have shared with me and the many others who want to do well at tennis. I thank you very much for allowing others to benefit from your experiences."

Tony Martin, Hull, Great Britain 

Copyright © 2002 Tom Veneziano. All rights reserved


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