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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 03:46 AM   #1
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believing in your game

Ok, so I was wondering if anyone else is encountering this, cause it's bugging me.

So, lately, every time I get in a tight moment, I just lose confidence in my game, and start playing a lot more defensively, which most definitely doesn't work. I would do much better if I sticked with my game till the end, but if I'm in a tight situation and make a few unnecessary errors, then I just get more and more tentative.
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 11:30 AM   #2
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Re: believing in your game

I pump myself up before every point to boost my confidence. Just a few words under my breath like "come on!" or something like that just getting the confidence boost I need. No one else on court will boost your confidence, so you have to .
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 02:03 PM   #3
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Re: believing in your game

It's not always easy, I know I have a habit of falling into that as well - You get nervous, and you don't want to miss easy shots so you play defensive and hope for your opponent to make the mistake. Trouble is, if you're playing like that because you're nervous, then you're not going to hit through the ball, your footwork is probably not there, your eye will leave the ball, and you'll likely make mistakes anyway or leave the ball sitting there to be had by the opponent.

One thing that I've learned through the years not just in tennis but in sports in general is that there is a huge difference in playing to win vs. playing not to lose. When you play to win, it's hard to have regrets - You went for it and it either worked or it didn't. When you play not to lose, you're no longer playing your game and chances are you'll let the match slip away.

Being defensive is okay and not a bad thing if you're playing with a game plan and intention. When you're defensive because your nerves have taken over, then you're not playing with purpose anymore, and any flaws in your game technically are most vulnerable to being exposed.
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 02:24 PM   #4
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Re: believing in your game

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy H View Post

One thing that I've learned through the years not just in tennis but in sports in general is that there is a huge difference in playing to win vs. playing not to lose. When you play to win, it's hard to have regrets - You went for it and it either worked or it didn't. When you play not to lose, you're no longer playing your game and chances are you'll let the match slip away.
I agree COMPLETELY. At the end of a loss, I generally start to think about what I could have done differently to win the match. Every time, I feel so much worse if I feel I played defensively (not to lose) than if I had played to win (aggressively). If I play defensively, I get the horrible feeling of "what if I had gone for a winner that point" and maybe forced an error sort of thing, whereas if I did play aggressively, I can convince myself I did all that I can.
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 10:04 PM   #5
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Re: believing in your game

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy H View Post
It's not always easy, I know I have a habit of falling into that as well - You get nervous, and you don't want to miss easy shots so you play defensive and hope for your opponent to make the mistake. Trouble is, if you're playing like that because you're nervous, then you're not going to hit through the ball, your footwork is probably not there, your eye will leave the ball, and you'll likely make mistakes anyway or leave the ball sitting there to be had by the opponent.

One thing that I've learned through the years not just in tennis but in sports in general is that there is a huge difference in playing to win vs. playing not to lose. When you play to win, it's hard to have regrets - You went for it and it either worked or it didn't. When you play not to lose, you're no longer playing your game and chances are you'll let the match slip away.

Being defensive is okay and not a bad thing if you're playing with a game plan and intention. When you're defensive because your nerves have taken over, then you're not playing with purpose anymore, and any flaws in your game technically are most vulnerable to being exposed.
Great post!

What you said about what happens when you get tight is just what happens with me. And I also get brainless when it's tight (and my brain is usually one of my biggest weapons).

Undefeated this high school season so far, but the competition is getting really strong with every match. we actually have a match vs. the top seeds in the conference tomorrow, and I'm going to be #2 seed and I'm VERY nervous. I really don't want to just get nervous and hand the match to the opponent.
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 10:05 PM   #6
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Re: believing in your game

Good thread and hopefully this helps me as well, I really get tight on big points, usually my BP conversion is absolutely awful!
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 10:25 PM   #7
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Re: believing in your game

If there was an easy solution to this problem, the WTA rankings would be totally different....

It's a very natural thing to do. What Randy H said is true (as usual! ), and is totally rational. The problem is, a tennis mind isn't rational most of the time

The only thing I found to be working in my case is to actually force yourself to be agressive in those moments, literally going against your instincts and just whacking the ball and going for shots. Even going to the other extreme, and missing too much.

Yes, you might even lose some matches for that reason on the short run. But its always easier to hold back a bit on the acceleration cause you are going for too much then doing the opposite.

On the long run, it opens up possibilities. Ok, I am close to winning. Instinctively, I don't accelerate much. Or I can force myself to overhit and miss. Once you realize that both extremes don't work, you should be confident in seeing that your natural game does the job better than anything else.

And its not really about being defensive. As Randy said, the problem is not accelerating. Being defensive but putting the ball heavy and deep isn't such a bad idea when you are tight (think Wozniacki). It prevents easy mistakes and gives your more margin when you are nervous. But acceleration is key.
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Old Mar 14th, 2011, 03:49 PM   #8
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Re: believing in your game

Quote:
Originally Posted by ¤CharlDa¤ View Post
If there was an easy solution to this problem, the WTA rankings would be totally different....
In the same way that you don't wait to develop your FH until you're in the middle of the game, the way to deal with this is through practice outside the game. In this case, even outside the court. Very few people actually do actively develop this area of themselves.
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Old Mar 14th, 2011, 08:15 PM   #9
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Re: believing in your game

I used to be a headcase too, when it went to the tight momment and I lose it I was completely down..it was a big fault...I remember when I was playing tennis as a child I was leading for example 4-0 and was getting nuts when I can´t close the game to 5-0 and then the whole set I was playing unconcentrated (I have a feeling that I wrote somehow here about my epic meltdown from 4-0 40-0 to 4-6, 0-6)...when I was playing longer and longer I realized that you shouldn´t think about errors you made before, I was saying to myself "Okay it was just one-two bad games, but the match still goes on..." when I learned this I was a bit better, even when I failed to serve a match and lose a set I still knew, that there is still a whole third set
+ It´s a very good thing when you know you have a reliable shot which is working also when the things are going bad..that´s very important, you must believe in your own game, I was literally volleyed opponent to the death when It matters most...playing something different as you used to do is never a good thing, of course it´s good to have a plan B, but I´m talking about playing something random just not to lose the point, you can´t be affraid to use your biggest weapon because when this is gone, then you usually haven´t any chance...even if you will fail sometimes and will make some stupid errors, you shouldn´t change your game just because of few bad points (or even few bad games, when it´s not too late)...of course different thing is that you have completely an "off-day" or your opponent is playing that good, that you just can´t play your game and you are simply outplayed...but when you know that you have a reliable weapon which worked throughout the whole match and you are a in a tight moment, never try to play something different, just believe in yourself, sometimes maybe even you won´t know how you won the point...but it´s never a good thing when you not believe in yourself and your game when you are in a tight moment
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Old Mar 14th, 2011, 09:13 PM   #10
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Re: believing in your game

I'm a mental midget, but I'm getting better as I'm starting to take important matches as fitness workouts Seriously once I led 6-3 4-0 and lost, 3-6 7-5 6-3 If I had won I would have earned €100
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Old Mar 15th, 2011, 01:26 AM   #11
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Re: believing in your game

I HATE MYSELF I lost today 63 46 8-10, got SO FREAKIN tight after I went down in the second set.
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Old Mar 15th, 2011, 04:09 PM   #12
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Re: believing in your game

The classic guide:

The Inner Game of Tennis

A phenomenon when first published in 1974, the Inner Game was a real revelation. Instead of serving up technique, it concentrated on the fact that, as Gallwey wrote, “Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game.” The former is played against opponents, and is filled with lots of contradictory advice; the latter is played not against, but within the mind of the player, and its principal obstacles are self-doubt and anxiety. Gallwey’s revolutionary thinking, built on a foundation of Zen thinking and humanistic psychology, was really a primer on how to get out of your own way to let your best game emerge. It was sports psychology before the two words were pressed against each other and codified into an accepted discipline.

The new edition of this remarkable work–Billie Jean King called the original her tennis bible–refines Gallwey’s theories on concentration, gamesmanship, breaking bad habits, learning to trust yourself on the court, and awareness. “No matter what a person’s complaint when he has a lesson with me, I have found the most beneficial first step,” he stressed, “is to encourage him to see and feel what he is doing–that is, to increase his awareness of what actually is.”
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Old Mar 15th, 2011, 05:19 PM   #13
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Re: believing in your game

when i'm loosing my confidence i'm taking my time between the points
i'm pumping my self up all the time
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Old Mar 16th, 2011, 11:21 AM   #14
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Re: believing in your game

When I first started playing tennis my problem was that I got too excited during important points like break points. I vividly remember the first set of competitive tennis I ever played: it was against my sister, who had started to play around the same time as me. It's safe to say I considered myself the superior player and expected to win. And indeed, during the match I often found myself up at 40-0 or 40-15.

Problem was that I had absolutely no experience on how to handle these type of situations. I tensed up a little and started going for too much. On top of that, my sister had this weird slice on her backhand that kept throwing me off: playing my normal game I could deal with that, but once I got tensed up it became incredibly frustrating. I started to hit error after error, including missing easy shots. I was so mad at myself: I was the better player and I should have been able to beat her in my sleep, yet here I was, nervous and struggling. And after every missed point these thoughts came back to me, and it just went from bad to worse.

It was a horrible, humbling experience.
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Old Mar 16th, 2011, 07:22 PM   #15
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Re: believing in your game

Some people believe that shouting "come on" or pumping your fist is a sign of belief in your game which for all but a few it isn't.

It's easier said than done but it's really a mental exercise to play each point as it comes. Whether it's 15 all or match point you still have to win the point to win the game so just focus on watching and hitting the ball and moving your feet no matter what the score is. I've been lucky that I've never really got nervous closing out a match or playing my game in a tight situation. My problem can be a tend to start lethargically in terms of concentration, takes me a while to get into the match in my head sometimes.
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