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Tennis Tips - Fitness & Mental Toughness

Collecting Points
In most cases, the player who wins the most points ends up winning the match. There are a few times, usually when set scores are lopsided, that the player with the most points ends up losing, but those matches are few and far between. Of course, while it sounds simple - just win more points than your opponent to win your match - sometimes my players think that it’s better to go for screaming winners to gain points. It is a satisfying feeling to smack the ball very hard, but it often leads to erratic, unreliable play. To get them back on track, I tell them to think like a boxer or fencer who jabs away with little assaults and excellent footwork in order to set up the big punches. A boxer or tennis player who swings away wildly with no rhyme or reason usually ends up off balance and susceptible to getting pummeled. They get very anxious, letting nerves take away their sense of how to control the rhythm of the match.

When one of my players falls into this mode, I’ve shown them to keep score a bit differently. I ask them to try to gather points in sets of 3 in a row. The player who collects the most sets of 3 points in a row in a set will win it. Thinking about collecting points restores calm thinking. If they lose a point or two, they simply begin trying to block their opponent from getting a set of 3. Collecting 1 point at a time leads to confidence when they gather their sets of 3, and takes away their fear of losing. At grand slam junior tournaments, I’ve often asked VDM teammates to chart this way for each other in order to get them to see how easily it works. Try it - you’ll like it!

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