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September 1, 2008
Olympians learn to think under pressure


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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
Olympians learn to think under pressure

I'm sure many of you watched the Olympics this year. They were fantastic! Michael Phelps with his eight swimming gold medals, besting Mark Spitz's seven gold medals set in 1972. How about the speed of Usain Bolt? He set a new world record of 9.69 in the 100 meter. He rocketed down the track, beating his previous world record of 9.72 set in May of 2008.

Many competitors thrived under the pressure, yet many did not fare as well. Some faltered, regained their composure, then performed amazingly! Others performed beautifully in practice, but in competition did not perform as well. Sound familiar? The competitors in the Olympics had a wide range of performances under pressure exactly like tennis players. If Olympic athletes sometimes falter under pressure, why wouldn't you? There is no need to beat yourself up. Continue your practice and get back into the battle. That is the thinking of Olympic champions. This thought process is ingrained in them in their daily routine and practice. They train their thinking during practice to stay positive, maintain intensity and to not become discouraged in the face of failure. OLYMPIANS CONSTANTLY AND INSTANTLY TURN NEGATIVES INTO POSITIVES.

In gymnastics, it's amazing to watch these mentally and physically disciplined gymnasts perform their routines. To watch them perform under pressure even when they have failed is a sight to behold. They can fall off their equipment, instantly regain their composure, hop back on the equipment and perfectly execute the same routine that just caused their failure! Olympic athletes have learned to think and perform under pressure.

Would you like to think under pressure? Would you like to become calmer and more in control under match pressure? Would you like to think like an Olympian? You can! Here is the principle:


That's right, the decisions you make when you are NOT under pressure will determine how well you play while under pressure. Most players simply do not think that well in their daily practice sessions, in their practice matches or after failing in tournament play. In their practice sessions they still let failures consume their thoughts. They take failures personally. They doubt themselves and let failures discourage them. In practice matches they refuse to experiment with new shots or a different way of thinking because they are afraid to fail. If they lose in a tournament match they cannot play in the consolation match because they are too distraught. If they were supposed to play singles and doubles in a tournament but lose in the singles, they just cannot get themselves motivated for their doubles match. Do you think Olympians have this mindset in their daily practice regimen? If you cannot think correctly when you are NOT under pressure, how can you think correctly when you are under pressure?

In the quarter finals of the Olympic tennis singles, the great Roger Federer lost to James Blake in straight sets, even though Federer has beaten Blake every other time they have played. I'm sure Roger felt the emotional sting of this loss because he intensely desired to win a gold medal for Switzerland. Couple this loss with the press pointing out every failure he has had this year as if his career were over. According to the press you would think he was playing horribly. Maybe you think he is too. Here is his record for 2008: He was in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, the finals of the French Open and the finals of Wimbledon. He has won two tournaments and his win-loss record is 44 wins and 11 losses. Maybe it's time for him to retire! :)

Roger is still a great player and proved his superior mental attitude at the Olympics. After his devastating loss in singles, Roger did not let that match affect him and captured gold in doubles with Stanislas Wawrinka. An event he hardly plays! Beating the Bryan brothers, the number one team in the world along the way. Roger got his gold! The mental habits he developed when he was NOT under pressure allowed him to forget the emotional defeat at the hands of James Blake and go on to win gold in doubles.

You, too, must begin NOW placing a premium on your daily mental decisions when you are NOT under pressure.


Your Tennis Pro,

Tom Veneziano




Your site is easily within the best 25 tennis sites on the web as far as I am concerned. I have definitely learned a lot from your thoughtful techniques. I also want you to know that I really enjoy the tennis tips and I look forward to your emails. A few months ago, I also purchased your two books and I can truly say that my tennis has reached a higher level. Thanks for all your help now and in the future.

Jim Beacham
Portsmouth, VA


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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