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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
Tennis Repeats Itself... So Lighten Up!
Did you know that what happens on the tennis court repeats itself? Just like history, it repeats itself. We also learn from history that we learn nothing from history. Unfortunately, the same is true for tennis. Events that repeat themselves are not often used to learn from. In addition, not only does tennis repeat itself for you, but it repeats itself for others. For instance, you had some bad luck and lost a point. This is not unique to you; it has happened over and over again on the tennis court. You've been passed at the net with a blazing shot from your opponent. This is not unique to you; it has happened over and over again on the tennis court. You were ahead 5-1 and then lost, this is not unique to you, it has happened over and over again.... These and many more situations happen over and over and over again. What happens on the tennis court will repeat itself!
You may be thinking to yourself, "Yes, all of these things have happened to me. It's horrible! I have to correct these problems before I can win, right?" Wrong! Mistakes and problems on the tennis court are inevitable. Negative situations are always going to occur, so you might as well get used to them. Instead of fighting them, you must learn to master them by adjusting your thinking. Remember that tennis repeats itself, forget the failures and move on.
But if you find yourself unable to adjust to negatives, mistakes and failures on the court, you may be trying to be too perfect. This means you have in your mind a preconceived idea about the way you think you should play, and when this ideal play does not occur you become frustrated or angry. As a result, you lose confidence, play tentatively, or you just mentally quit! Since tennis, or for that matter anything else in life, does not happen exactly the way you think it should, you spend a lot of time being discouraged.
Perfect isn't the reality of tennis or any sport. Tennis coach Brad Gilbert clearly spells this out to Andre Agassi in Agassi's 2009 autobiography "Open." Gilbert says to Agassi that his problem is that he tries to be too perfect: "When you chase perfection, when you make perfection the ultimate goal, do you know what you're doing? You're chasing something that doesn't exist. You're making everyone around you miserable. You're making yourself miserable. Perfection? There's about five times a year you wake up perfect, when you can't lose to anybody, but it's not those five times a year that make a tennis player. Or a human being, for that matter. It's the other times. It's all about your head, man" ("Open" by Andre Agassi, 2009, sixth printing, pp. 186-7). Under Brad Gilbert's coaching guidance, Agassi oriented to the reality of failure in tennis and began to dominate the game.
An excellent description of the champion's ability to orient is found in Carlos Goffi's book "Tournament Tough." He writes, "Tournament toughness is that mental resilience and flexibility that separates the champions from the pack, allowing them to win against opponents who are technically more skillful and physically more powerful, even when they themselves are playing poorly."
I especially like that last phrase: "even when they themselves are playing poorly." Mentally tough competitors do not always have to play perfectly to win. When they miss easy shots, get passed numerous times, have bad breaks or play poorly, they can still go on to win the match. With resilience and flexibility, they know how to improvise, adapt and orient when confronted with obstacles and adverse situations. Remember, tennis repeats itself. True champions understand that negative situations have happened before and will happen again. They have never experienced a perfect match, and they never will. Knowing this, they are mentally prepared to deal with any obstacles that come their way.
The point I'm trying to make is, look at the long-term picture. Do not isolate situations by thinking short term. You will constantly face tough situations on the court, so get used to them. In the long run, they are not the deciding factor on whether you win or lose. The deciding factor is how you choose to deal with your mistakes, failures, and difficulties. Mentally preparing for these negatives ahead of time will help you to think correctly, adjust and move on.
Unrealistic expectations of perfection will only make adjusting to negatives more difficult. You cannot keep thinking that in order to win everything has to go just right on the tennis court. If you are so hung up on the preconceived ideas about the way you think you should play, you will be mentally distracted by mistakes and never apply the solution. Preoccupied with the problem, you will ignore the solution. The solution is, tennis repeats itself....so lighten up!
Your tennis pro,
Hi Tom. Yet again this is a fantastic lesson. I always look foward to them. Well your way of learning the game seems to be working for us. Lauren just played the Lancashire county championships, she won the U14s, U16s, U18s and women's event. All without dropping a single set!! I live by your teachings. We cannot thank you enough Tom :)
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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