About Tennis Under Pressure

If you can’t make them under pressure, it doesn’t matter, does it?

We are talking about being able to execute your shots under pressure.

Many coaches never bring up this topic to their players and I can’t understand why.

Anyway.

Here are a few tips for dealing with pressure better on the court.

Breathe

When juniors are under pressure, they sometimes stop breathing during points.

I have seen this play out on video and the player is always shocked when they see themselves doing it after.

So, next time you are in a match and feeling the pressure, breathe deeply for 25 seconds.

Inhale on a long count, hold it, then release it for a long count also.

After doing this 4 times, your breathing should be smooth and normal again.

Detach From The Outcome

This is the most important tip that every tennis player should learn on their own or be told by someone.

Never get emotionally attached to winning or anything else for that matter.

Everything is energy and you are either attracting what you want or you are pushing it away by the energy that you are radiating at in, any giving moment.

This is always the most important key to getting anything that you want in life, on the court or off it.

Of course you want to meditate too on a daily basis.

Why not meditate, on those 2 tips for 1 month straight.

Just remember.

You can never run away from pressure.

Serve Through Tennis Conditioning Drills

Because tennis is a game that insists on such intense hand-eye coordination, what many novice players resort to the any-kind-of-form will do as long as I return the ball. Unfortunately, that mentality along with a lack of tennis conditioning skills results in the leading tennis injuries of tennis elbow, wrist strains and rotator cuff tendonitis. While most experts agree that many injuries among amateurs occur during the serve, they also recommend some simple tactics to prevent them.

Know your limit in game play as well as during tennis conditioning drills. Do not attempt to play while tired and therefore not as focused on proper form and technique.
In relation to your strength and size, use the appropriate sized racquet as well as handle grip size
When serving, make sure the arm is at an angle to the body at more than 90 degrees
Do not have a loose, fluid motion to your swing. Instead, be firm in your grip and follow through steady on every swing keeping your wrist taut. This will help you guide the ball and place it where you want it on your opponent’s side of the net.
Make sure to engage in tennis conditioning drills that focus on strengthening your abdominal and back muscles. The power in the swing of a racquet comes from the core body strength and not from the wrist, a mistake a lot of novice players make in their game play.

Sometimes, some mistakes that happen on the court, a twisted ankle, an overused and misused wrist, require chiropractic care. Chiropractic medicine can also act as a preventative agent due to back realignments and joint adjustments that help with balance and posture. Players new to the game of the tennis have to take the initiative to do the tennis conditioning drills and get the healthcare necessary to gain a successful game technique

Why use Mark Norton? His extensive knowledge of exercise science, nutrition, human physiology, program design, movement analysis…. Those are some great reasons and all accurate but the most important the dedication to our clients success.

Why use a personal trainer? A trainer will progress you through an exercise program with proper form, the proper intensity level, progress the difficulty of your exercises to match or improve fitness levels. A trainer can modify exercises to help with existing injuries and help reduce the chance of future injuries. Trainers most importantly provide motivation accountability and consistency.

Babolat Propulse

  • Comfort: The Propulse has minimal cushioning and has succeeded in killing my feet. After a mere ten minutes of light conditioning, my feet begin to yell at me to stop moving. My feet hurt so much that I was forced to change the standard insoles to a gel insole. Even after that my feet still kill me whenever I move for an extended period of time. For match play however, these shoes are alright I guess. The minimal cushioning is definitely not for me but may work for others.
  • Arch Support: The arch support on the Propulse feels a lot higher than it actually is because of the elasticated tongue. As a result, it feels extremely uncomfortable to people with low-medium height arches (like me). I guess the upside to this is that the shoe is extremely supportive in the midsection but I don’t know if it’s worth it.
  • Foot Support & Stability: The Propulse is very stable due to the velcro strap that wraps around the shoe. However, the shoe has poor ankle support and sometimes I feel as if I’m about to twist my ankles (a problem I’ve NEVER had with any other tennis shoe). Additionally, after I changed the insoles for added comfort, I often find myself feeling like my feet are slipping inside my shoe. With the original insole, I didn’t have this problem but I couldn’t stand the pain I felt with the original insoles. The shoe has pretty support because of the strap but it does get in the way when trying to lace up the shoes.
  • Durability: I’ve had the shoe for about 2 weeks and the outsole is already wearing out. There are parts on the outsole that have clearly worn out which is absolutely ridiculous considering I’ve had the shoe for such a short period of time. While the shoe does come with a 6-month outsole durability guarantee, Babolat requires that the shoe have a hole in the bottom of the outsole such that the insoles of the shoe are visible (Adidas and Nike only require bald spots on the outsole, not a hole).
  • Traction: The outsole doesn’t have a trace of a herringbone design but it seems to work fine. The guys at Michelin clearly know what they’re doing and it shows in the traction. However, with such poor durability, I don’t think the awesome traction will hold up much longer.
  • Weight: At about 17 ounces, these shoes aren’t bulky but they aren’t lightweight either. The weight doesn’t really bother me at all and isn’t a concern.

Overall, I really don’t like these shoes. They look awesome and have pretty good traction but the fit is clearly not for me. Also, the laces are way too long for the shoe and have started to fray from me stepping on them while running. The strap gets in the way when lacing the shoes up (as I mentioned above) and the velcro also frays the laces which is really annoying. At $110, the shoes aren’t exactly cheap either (I’m still recovering from the huge hit my wallet took after I bought these shoes). I wouldn’t buy these again. If you’ve spent the time to actually read this, go buy yourself a pair of Adidas Barricade IVs if you can find them (I’ve heard the Barricade Vs are an excellent upgrade to the IVs so if you feel like paying $110 go buy some Barricade Vs).

Focused Tennis Energy

Then you have to keep asking yourself that same question for your whole coaching career.

If you are a competitive tennis player, then you need to asking yourself this,

“How can I master playing the mental game”.

I think it’s time to change the names of the tours to,

(The ATP Mental Tennis Tour or The WTA Mental Tennis Tour).

Just joking guys.

No, but seriously.

The fact is that the top ranked players in the world, I mean the world class players here, have LEARNED how to focus their energy on court.

The reason for this is, they practice it everyday.

While the lower ranked players never work on their mental games in practice.

“All top tennis players can block out defeats, setbacks and outside forces and stay focused on their tennis goals.”

While the other players tend to struggle and keep struggling in their playing careers.

Which brings me to my mental tip that I have for you today.

Get in harmony and align with your mental game and nothing can stop you.

“Everything is energy and the best tennis players focus their energy on only thoughts, that can and will empower them.”

I read before that 90% of all tennis players, focus on their failures and what they can’t do on the court.

That’s a big mistake, because thinking this way will always create the following problem for them in matches.

Nervous energy, instead of focused energy.

Many tennis players are struggling in match play right now as I write this.

And the reason for this is simple.

They don’t have a mental game.

ACTION TIP

For the next week, don’t have anything to do, with anyone or any thoughts, that weaken or drain you of your energy.

Feed your focused energy, by thinking only empowering thoughts and about your tennis goals and writing them down 2 twice a day.

First, just focus and get through that first week, do what you have to do to reach 1 week.

It’s very important, because you want to get out of the negative energy force field, that you are in right now!!

And this can help you do just that.

Tips For Playing Big Points

  • Play it on your terms

You want to start and play the point on your terms.

End of point.

Never start a big point, actually, any point for that matter, until you are mentally ready to play it.

This will allow you to play yourself into a good rhythm in your matches and who knows, you may find yourself in the (Tennis ZONE) before the match is over!!

  • No cheap points

Make your opponent earn the point and don’t give away easy points.

Your first objective is to get the serve in or get the return in, whatever you do, don’t miss it!

Because the top players aren’t going give you any cheap points.

They play every point hard and smart!!

  • See it, before you play it.

“This is the mental tip that you need to practice on everyday. “

At first, you may not be able to do it on court, but keep on doing it in practice.

Visualizing a point before you play it is going to help you learn how to play them better and then this is going to also help you start playing the bigger point better.

Quick tip to leap-frog the learning curb on this one!!

“Everyday practice holding one thought at a time, for as long as you can. “

If you are like most players, that is going to be for only a few seconds.

Now, after a week of doing this, you will be able to do it longer.

Carry this concentration over into your practice time and that is when you will be able to dominate your mental game.

I told my student the other day,

“If you can’t win the big points, you will never win the big matches”.

Are you guys feeling me on this one?

Great, because that is the whole point of this post here today.

I need to get back to the Kei vs Johnson match now that is going on!!

Tennis Racquet String Tension

Since all tennis rackets recommend different tensions (they are generally somewhere in the 50 or 60 pound range), there is not one tension that can be recommended. You can only use the following guidelines. Lower tension increase power and higher tensions increase control. With a lower tension, the racket acts almost like a trampoline. The ball hits the racket, the strings quickly form a small pocket (relative to the tennis string tension) and your swing and strings shoot the ball out of the pocket. Obviously, this is a little over exaggerated, but it is a metaphor to how the strings respond with a lower tension. This all results in a little less control.

Racquet string tension that is on the high side causes the racquet to act more like a board or “brick wall”. This tight racket string tension causes the ball to flatten out more, which allows the strings to have a better bite on the ball. This, in essence, provides more control. Many players prefer tighter strings but it does have a board like feel that you may not like. It is also important to keep in mind that racket string tension will feel different with different rackets. Some tennis rackets are flexible while others are stiff. Your current tension may feel very different on a different racket even though they have the same recommended string tension.

Tennis string tension really becomes a matter of personal preference and trial and error. And it starts all over again if you get a new tennis racket. So just remember the basics:

  • Higher string tension means reduced power but more control
  • Lower string means more power but reduced control

Now that I have said all of this, I will throw a kink into the mix. These guidelines really apply to those tennis players who are passed the beginning stage of tennis and are a more intermediate or advanced player. A beginner could be hitting balls all over the place but a higher or tighter racket string tension is not going to help them out with better control. A beginner would most likely benefit from a lower tension because the strings will be more forgiving and help with the number of off center hits that they have. I would suggest that a beginning tennis player stick with the mid-range string tension that is recommend for the tennis racket.

Tips For Practice

Your success is tied to your attitude, so for those players that are struggling with their mental game now, take a hard look at the type of attitude you are taking to practice everyday.

Next one.

Write Everything Down

Think on paper and write down your practice plan and also picture yourself doing them in your mind while you are doing this.

The best way to do this is to write it down after practice.

Then look at it again before your next practice, by recording things down, you will gain clarity and focus and this alone can help you become more efficient in practice.

This can also help you reduce the amount of stress you are feeling on the court and boast your energy level up.

Make The Adjustments

You have to make the needed adjustment before, in and after practice if you want to become more successful with them.

The one big mistake that many tennis players make, is that they don’t make the adjustments that they need to everyday.

They just keep doing the same things over and over again and they expect different results from doing that.

Here are some examples.

When working on a drill, you should never miss 3 shots in a row.

Because if you miss the first one, and make a adjustment, then if you miss that one too, you can then make the last tweak and make the shot.

You can do this with a playing pattern too.

Anytime I see a player in practice, not getting the right results, I soon find out that they are not working the drills right.

It’s the not the drill that is the problem, it’s the player who is working on the drill, that is the problem.

See if you can implement these 3 tips for practice as soon as you can.

But first, make sure you pass the PMA Test.

That is a hard test, so it make take you a while to do it, but get that done first and then focus on bringing on board the over 2 practice tips as well.

Good luck and have some fun!!

One Handed Back Hand Drive

Unfortunately, the basic breakdown for beginners starts before the ball even arrives. Club players can be notoriously slow for getting positioned to hitting the ball. Now, I realize that club players arrive at the scene with frailties of all descriptions. However; it is critical to get the body aligned with the racquet back and knees flexed with the ball arriving between knee and waist height over the front foot. At this point, you have just dramatically increased your probability for success. The grip will need some experimentation but generally speaking a continental grip (hand shaking) plus a 1/8th clockwise turn (right-hander) will work nicely. Yes, this is not the heavy grip rotation that you may be using on the forehand side. Most of the top players in the world now use the western grip on the forehand but good luck trying to go this far over on the backhand.

The next most common mistake among beginners is a tendency to drop the racquet head below the wrist upon initiating from the back swing. All chances for success are now lost because the wrist gets ahead of the head and the order of events has failed. It is helpful to bring the racquet back with the other hand to maintain the stability of the racquet before delivering the forward momentum. This other hand can also moderate the slight flexion in the wrist during the backs swing. Take a look at some old footage of Bjorn Borg. He had a kind of a hitch in his back swing. Basically, he had a two handed backs wing and a beautiful one handed delivery. Next, the front shoulder will drop and align with the front knee. Naturally, the elbow will be tucked. Your legs, shoulder, forearm, and wrist will uncoil rhythmically delivering a square racquet head to the ball. Your head will stay down through the stroke and your racquet will finish high rolling through the ball. Whoosh!

Different Types of Tennis Balls

Pressurized vs. Pressureless Tennis Balls:

  • There are two main types of tennis balls: pressurized and pressureless.
  • Pressurized tennis balls have a hollow core, filled with air. Some tennis ball manufacturers use nitrogen in the center, because this air tends to last longer – pressurized balls will lose their pressure after about a month or so after opening the pressurized can that they come in. As they lose their pressure, they become “dead” and do not bounce so well.
  • Pressureless balls have a solid core. These tennis balls are great for anyone who does not play tennis that often and/or to use and training tennis balls. These tennis balls do not lose their bounce. However, the felt will slowly wear off, and they will eventually need to be replaced.

Regular Duty, Extra Duty, or High Altitude Tennis Balls:

  • When you buy tennis balls, the container that they come in should be clearly marked with what kind of balls it contains – regular duty, extra duty, or high altitude tennis balls.
  • Regular duty tennis balls should be used on indoor and clay courts. Extra duty balls would get too fuzzy if used on clay courts.
  • Extra duty tennis balls are used on grass courts and tennis courts.
  • High altitude tennis balls are used in places like Denver where you are playing 4,000 feet or more above sea level. These balls have different pressure – regular balls would bounce too much at this elevation.

Tennis Ball “Fuzziness:”

  • Without the yellow (or white…) fuzziness of tennis balls, the game of tennis would be a whole lot different. The fuzz of the tennis balls creates friction. The fuzziness of the balls creates dray in the air, making topspin and backspin more pronounced and more possible.

Numbers on the Tennis Balls:

  • Have you ever wondered what the numbers on your tennis balls meant? Do they reference the weight or style of the tennis balls, etc.? No.
  • The numbers on the tennis balls are simply for your benefit – if you are playing with Wilson 1 balls, and the people on the court next to you are playing with Wilson 2 balls, it is easier to retrieve your tennis balls when they wander onto another tennis court. The numbers help you tell your balls apart from other players’ balls (assuming that you are not using the same brand and same number of tennis balls!)

Tennis Players Can Reach Their Full Potential

Write down your tennis goals.

Twice a day, once in the morning and then again at night.

Carry them around with you and look at them during your downtime.

Visualize your goals.

Your picture may not be clear at first, but just keep doing it every day.

With practice, they will become clearer and clearer for you.

Visualization doesn’t work for most people because they don’t do it long enough.

It’s the law of practice.

The more you do something, the better you get at doing it.

Take action.

This is where you have to be careful.

Don’t just take any action, take inspired action towards reaching your tennis goals.

This means you should be feeling good when taking this action or stop doing it!

Tennis is a FEEL game in the learning stage, but it’s all MENTAL in the competition phase.

Write that down and refer back to it.

Be persistent.

Focus on being the best that you can be at every giving moment of your day and never lose sight of your goal (To reach your full potential).

I heard this quote from a speaker the other day and I can’t get it out of my mind.

“The biggest problem in our society is unfulfilled potential”!

When I heard that, it just slapped me in my face!!

Because it is so true.

The biggest problem that is facing our game and the world, in general, is people not reaching their full potential.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Keep adjusting your approach.

Now, after you follow the above steps.

You must adjust your plan, strategy, and training.

Look at everything as feedback and then make the needed adjustments and keep progressing towards your tennis goals.

Develop an adaptable mindset and get rid of your mechanical mindset.

Too many players have a narrow mindset and this narrow mindset turns into tennis slumps that can last their whole careers.

Think about like this.

If something isn’t working, just stop doing it and try something else.

If your current mental training, isn’t helping your match play performance, let it go!

I mean.

They are all just experiences, that you either learn from or you keep repeating over and over again.