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April 1, 2004
The opposite phenomenon


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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
The opposite phenomenon

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

Often players do the opposite of what they are supposed to do in order to solve problems in their match play. This opposite phenomenon consistently occurs on tennis courts throughout the world. Players actually sabotage themselves simply by thinking incorrectly! Make no mistake about it, thinking is a powerful tool, in fact ONE thought can make you or break you. 

Let me illustrate by giving you three quick examples.


Did you ever notice that after your opponent hits two or three balls back to you, you inevitably overplay each succeeding ball? By the time the fourth or fifth ball comes back it does not matter if this is the right ball (easy set up) to hit a winner, you pulverized it anyway. What causes this miscalculation? There are two reasons. First, the more times the ball comes back over the net, the more you think you will be the one to miss. As a result, you become impatient and nervous and attempt to end the point as soon as possible. Second, the more the ball keeps coming back, the more you think you have done something wrong! Again, you become impatient and nervous and go for the gold too soon, leaving you with an unforced error. This incorrect thinking causes players to lose many, many points. Just because the ball keeps coming back does not mean you have done something wrong. I refer you to Tennis 101!  Player A  hits ball to player B and player B tries to hit it back. This is the object of the game. It's supposed to come back! :) Instead of trying to constantly put the ball away, do the opposite. Learn to be more patient and less nervous and wait for the right shot before attempting a winner.


You are having a tough day at the courts, your timing and rhythm are off and you are not playing well. What should you do? Oddly enough the solution most players choose is to rear back and hit the ball harder! Inevitably they dig themselves in even deeper. The correct solution is to do the opposite. You should slow it down and try to re-establish your timing and rhythm, skillfully working yourself back into the match. As your timing begins to improve, then you can speed up your shots again. Hitting the ball harder when you are in a slump does not make sense. If your timing and rhythm were off at your normal speed, why would it be any better when your blasting the ball? Learn to think right about this situation and save yourself a lot of frustration.


You are at the net and receive a high slow ball. You think this should be an easy shot, but it's not! The opposite is true. This is a difficult shot. Why? Because YOU have to generate all the power and control. The truth is it's often more difficult to hit the slow balls than the fast balls. This is why you see so many players make errors on slow balls...especially returning a slow serve. When returning a slow serve players figure because it's slow they can go for the quick winner. Inevitably they overplay the shot.  Learn to take these slow balls, hit a medium pace shot and then either attack the net or retreat to the baseline.


Well, there you have it --- three match-play problems solved by thinking the opposite.  

1. Don't think you have done something wrong when the ball comes back to you more than two or three times.

2. Don't hit harder when you are in a slump, instead slow it down and re-establish your timing and rhythm.

3. Do not think it's easy to hit a ball that is coming at you slowly...it's not. It requires excellent technique and stroke production to master the slow ball. 

Your tennis pro,

Tom Veneziano



Hi Tom,

"I'm a competitive high school player and I practice 4 to 6 days a week, but I never really "got" tennis till I read some of the stuff you wrote.  A friend had recommended that I visit your site and when I started reading about your ideas they blew me away! They were so simple and right away I saw what my problem was.  I've always been looking for shortcuts and easy ways out, but after I went to your site I realized there are no shortcuts in life. I've changed my practice habits and ideas and now I find myself easily beating people that used to roll me over 6-0 6-0!  I just really wanted to say thanks for everything."
 Jason Lee
 Burbank, California


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 you and your children to a better understanding of the developmental process.
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