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STROKES ARE BASED ON 'FEEL' NOT MECHANICS!
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
Make sense in 2005!
Welcome to Tom's Online Tennis Lesson, sponsored by TennisWarrior.com, "Where you can learn to think like a pro!"
Did you notice that in 2004 I gave you very few technical tips related to stroke production? Expect more of the same in 2005! Do you want to know why? I do not believe in technical skills as a major factor in the process of learning tennis. In fact, most of the time they are a hindrance! Yes, for some simple procedures some guidance is necessary, like swing your racket low to high for topspin and high to low for slice. Practicing the use of the body shoulder rotation whenever you hit the ball is acceptable. That is if you have the discipline to spend time practicing these simple procedures again and again and again. Beyond that, there is not much to the technical skills! Repetition will mold most of the ground-stroke skills without overdoing the technical.
If you do not have much time to practice, just go with what you've got! Apply the mental skills that I've taught you over the years. Not everyone has time to dedicate hours toward learning the game of tennis. The game that you own right now is your style of play. Use it!
Most players learn techniques to resolve symptoms of a problem, not causes! This seems to be a hard pill to swallow. Coaches and players want concrete black-and-white information. It's more comforting to think that you missed because you took your eye off the ball, you didn't take the racket back, you were not balanced, your weight wasn't forward, etc. The players want to blame some technique to ease the pain of failure.
Let's examine two necessary technical skills that are being taught as techniques: "Be balanced" and "get your racket back quickly!"
BE SENSIBLE - HAVE A SENSE OF BALANCE
The other day I heard one of the pros at the club say to a player, "be balanced when you hit that shot." I racked my brain to figure out what exactly that means! Is there some kind of body position that determines balance? If your feet are exactly this way or that way then are you balanced? In professional matches pros are diving and falling all over the place when they hit shots. Does this mean they are not balanced? Yes, they are balanced - they have a SENSE of balance.
The answer to this conundrum lies in what balance really is and how balance develops. Balance is first and foremost a sense. It's not a technique, it's not a position, it's not a certain look. If you are off balance when you hit a particular shot, it is just a symptom of an undeveloped sense of balance. To tell you to be balanced means nothing!!! You cannot automatically BE BALANCED! You have to work at it. It's like telling a child who is learning to ride a bicycle to be balanced and everything will be fine. You just cannot DO balance! You practice for hours and hours. I think it's called repetition.
The principle here is that BALANCE IS A SENSE NOT A BODY POSITION. When your sense of balance improves you can 'feel' the balance in many different positions when hitting a tennis ball. You may 'look' off balance, even uncoordinated and discombobulated, but your sense of balance is intact. Exactly like your sense of balance on a bicycle when you can ride all over the place, make turns, ride in circles, etc.!
Balance is internal NOT external. You can't see it, you feel it! And it's your own unique 'feel'.
BE SENSIBLE - HAVE A SENSE OF TIMING
How many times do you hear coaches scream, "get your racket back, get your racket back, get your racket back!"? The idea being if you take your racket back quickly you will have better timing when you hit the ball. Millions of players all over the world are jamming the racket back in hopes of better timing on their shots. Does it work?. . .Hardly! I have watched players for years mechanically throw the racket back, only to continue hitting the ball too late or too early.
The answer again is: racket preparation is not the cause of poor timing it is only a symptom of poor timing. Poor timing is caused by not enough practice to develop a sense of timing.
Bringing the racket back at the wrong time is just a symptom of poor timing that can be resolved by hitting thousands and thousands of tennis balls. When I teach I simply stay out of the way of the learning process and embrace the journey toward a sense of balance and a sense of timing. It's a great ride!
DON'T BE CAUGHT SENSELESS IN 2005!
So you see, in 2005 you will get more of this type of teaching so that you can learn what is at the root of most of your problems. I have experienced too much success watching players develop their game with none of the overdone technical skills.
I have told you for years that tennis is a game of FEEL, not MECHANICS. If you over-concentrate on the technical skills you will take years longer to develop this 'feel'. Think in terms of feel, NOT mechanics.
Apparently I'm not alone with this type of teaching! Below is an excerpt from the golf website, www.broadchannel1.com/Golf/Golf.htm, that shocked me when I read this tip from golf pro Rick Martino and writer Don Wade. I promise I did NOT write this. :)
"You learn to play golf by feel, not mechanics alone. Too much detail is confusing. You cannot think your way through a golf swing. You feel your way! Finally, short practice sessions regularly are better than one long period. Practice, and good repetition, will teach your muscles to learn to feel - creating your own internal dialog from within that you, and only you, can describe to yourself."
Your tennis pro,
"I hope everything is going well.
Congratulations on your good work. Although I do not play tennis (as I would like to) I like to think like a Pro!!! I read your book. "The Truth About Winning!" and religiously read your e-mails the last 2 years. Both the book and e-mails keep helping me with real life problems.
Thank you Tom!!!
Please continue doing this!!"
ADDENDUM: 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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