1. USTA League
Mental Toughness - Top 5 Mistakes Tennis Players Make
As USTA League season
approaches, players all over the country are re-stringing and
re-gripping their racquets. Taking last minute lessons. And hungry
for tips to get an edge over the competition.
Many tennis matches are
won and lost on the six inch tennis court between your ears.
You probably know that the mental side of tennis is the most
important factor in predicting success on the court, but have
you ever been taught how to be mentally tough?
Physical skills take a
while to develop, but you can instantly become a better player
by having the same attitude and mindset as a Roger Federer. Below
are my Top 5 Mental Mistakes Tennis Players Make.
Mistake # 1 - They are too negative. Have you
ever missed a first serve and said to yourself, DONT
double fault! and you then proceed to double fault? You
get what you focus on.
Dont think about a pink elephant. Didnt you just
think of a pink elephant?!
Instead of thinking how bad a point was, think instead about
how you can make an adjustment. Losers ask why? and
winners ask how?
Most players focus on, "Why did I hit that terrible shot?"
The true champions think, "How can I make an adjustment
for next time?"
Mistake # 2 - They focus on their strengths,
not their weaknesses. Sure, it's fun to practice what you're
good at, but that doesn't help improve your weakest link. If
you have no backhand and I see that in the warm-up, guess what?
I'm hitting EVERYTHING to your backhand. Practice does not make
perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.
Mistake # 3 - They think winning is everything.
Think about it, if this were true, wouldn't you just play people
you knew you could beat? That would get old. So there's something
to be said about a challenge. Winning is internal. If you give
it your all and push yourself to play your hardest, then youre
a winner. If you have fun and learn, you're on a whole different
level. If you focus on the result, winning, you will put too
much pressure on yourself. People dont sing to get to the
end of the song have fun! Winning is a by-product of focusing
on the right process.
Mistake # 4 - They perform
according to their feelings. The biggest difference between elite
players and everyone else is that when most players are tired,
feel low energy, or not into it, they LOOK tired, low energy
and not into it. But the great ones can have high energy
whether they want to or not. How do you do it? Act as if
if you act how you want to feel, then you will feel the way you
act. Anyone can be high energy if they FEEL like it I
challenge you to act energized when you feel like it least.
Mistake # 5 - They don't have goals. When
I ask players I work with what their goals are, many times they
say, To become a better tennis player. That wont
help you get to the next level because its not specific
enough. Instead, you can say something like, I want to
be able to get nine out of ten serves in the box with slice by
July 26, 2009. If you dont know where youre
going, you could wind up someplace else. Yogi Berra
Ed Tseng is an internationally known tennis teaching pro
(Pro of the Year USTA/NJD 2005), peak performance expert, motivational
speaker, and author of "Game. Set. Life." He has helped
thousands of people, from all walks of life, and in all sports...win
more. Tseng has given seminars to organizations such as, USTA,
USPTA, Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, Harlem Tennis
Program, Special Olympics, Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce,
Mercer County Juvenile Detention Center, and numerous sports
teams. His book, "Game. Set. Life." has been on Amazon's
Top 10 for Sports Psychology.
Top Ten Racquet
by Mike Morris, MRT, Phoenix, Arizona
1. You Dont
Have To Play In Pain
Along with ice, stretching and following the advice of your physician;
elbow and wrist pain, as a
result of playing racquet sports, can be eased through racquet
customization. Your local USRSA
Master Racquet Technician can customize your racquet and strings
to help relieve the discomfort
of tennis elbow.
2. Treat Your Racquet Like Family
Though the consequences are far less severe, racquets, like pets
and infants, should not be left in
a vehicle during the heat of summer. Temperatures can reach over
140 degrees inside a vehicle,
which can dry out and overly stretch the strings, causing premature
breakage/weakening of the
string as well as cause the frame to weaken. The life expectancy
of a racquet that is consistently
left inside of a vehicle can be half that of a racquet that is
taken out of the vehicle during the day.
3. Cut Down
On String Shift and Premature String Breakage
If you are tired of adjusting your strings between points you
can dramatically cut down on the
need to adjust strings and help improve the life of your strings
by installing string savers. These
clever little devices slide in between your strings to keep them
from moving when you strike the
ball. Since the strings dont move as much there is less
friction, which in turn helps your strings
to last longer. These are easy to apply and the cost is around
$4 per racquet.
Is Not Necessarily Right for You
Many racquets today promote the fact that they are lightweight.
This is not always a good
thing. To minimize the impact on your wrist and arm there has
to be enough mass to the
racquet to counter the inertia of the ball. Otherwise, the force
of the ball striking the racquet
will be absorbed by the soft tissue of your arm, rather than
the racquet, resulting in tendonitis
(or worse) in your wrist and elbow. Racquets are manufactured
in a variety of weights and
balance points so that there is a racquet for every type of player.
The trick is determining which
racquet weight and balance is right for your game. Your racquet
salesperson should be
knowledgeable about different racquets and what they are designed
to achieve. They should
then be able to match you up to one or several racquets to try
out. If not, find another retailer.
5. Keep a
Pair Of Fingernail Clippers In Your Tennis Bag
Troublesome hangnails aside, its a good idea to keep a
pair of fingernail clippers in your tennis
bag to use when you break strings while on the court. When a
string breaks it releases tension
in one area of the racquet while having little effect on the
rest. This imbalance of tension can
cause a racquet to crack, warp or fatigue over time. As soon
as convenient, start in the middle of
the racquet and cut a main string (running up and down the racquet)
and a cross string
(running left to right) at the same time. Alternate cutting pairs
of strings running diagonally
between the upper right hand corner of the racquet and the lower
left hand corner until every
string in the racquet has been cut. Leave the strings in the
racquet, a good stringer will inspect
your broken strings while they are still in the racquet to determine
the cause of the breakage and
make recommendations to help you get more life out of your strings
and better performance
from your racquet.
Skimp On Your Strings
Many people will spend $200 or more on the latest racquet featuring
the hottest technology but
when it comes to strings they put in the least expensive strings.
But, think about it, the only
part of your racquet that is supposed to touch the ball is the
strings. Good strings, strung
properly and at the right tension for you, will have a more positive
effect on the performance of
the racquet than any amount of aerospace technology that is built
into the frame. If finances are
an issue, buy a less expensive racquet but put better strings
in and re-string more often. The
benefits of this strategy will far surpass those of buying a
more expensive racquet but skimping
on the strings.
7. To Prolong
Racquet Life, Replace Your Bumper Guard and Grommets Often
Tennis is a contact sport; at least for your racquet. The constant
impact of the racquet to the
court surface will cause the bumper guard to gradually wear down
until it no longer protects the
frame from abrasion. Grommet strips protects the strings from
rubbing up against the racquet
itself, but, over time the grommet strip will become cracked
and worn, no longer protecting the
strings from pre-mature wear. For less than $10 you can have
your bumper guard and grommets
replaced periodically and thereby double or triple the life-expectancy
of your racquet. Your
stringer should inspect your grommet and bumper guard every time
it is brought in for restringing
and make recommendations on when they should be replaced.
Players, Dont Get Tricked Into Playing with Inferior Balls
In most specialty stores youll see two kinds of tennis
balls: 1) those that are designed for hard
courts (extra duty) and 2) those that are designed to play on
softer surfaces like clay, grass and
carpet (regular duty). The soft surface balls tend to bounce
less and wear down faster. This is
a distinct disadvantage for a player who depends on a big serve
or ground strokes to win points
on hard surfaces. Not only do you progressively lose power on
your shots but you tend to try
and hit the ball harder in order to generate the pace that your
game requires. This results in
making more errors and fatiguing your arm at a faster rate. Likewise,
less expensive balls,
though marketed as hard court or extra duty, tend
to loose bounce and wear down quickly,
usually after one set, leaving the power player at a distinct
disadvantage. As with strings, dont
skimp on the balls and ask your salesperson for their premier
or most durable ball.
Get Caught Up In the Demo Game
If you have to demo more than 10 racquets before finding one
that you like then there is a
problem. While there is a plethora of tennis racquets on the
market today you dont have to try
them all. Most racquets fall into a few distinct categories which
are usually predicated on swing
speed and swing length. If you know that you have a short compact
swing style then youve just
eliminated around 50% of the racquets from consideration. By
speaking with a knowledgeable
salesperson you can further refine your options based on your
preference for racquet weight,
balance and length. In the end you should try out between 4
9 racquets and then pick the one
that best suits you.
10. Hit Spin
Shots Like Youre From South America
If you are looking to increase spin but cant get use to
hitting with a western forehand grip, find
a racquet with a wide string pattern, lower your string tension
and try textured strings. While
nothing will replace hitting up on the ball to increase topspin,
you can make sure that your
racquet and strings are doing all they can to generate the most
spin possible. A racquet with a
more open string pattern allows the ball to dimple
into the string bed upon impact giving you
more spin on the ball as it leaves the string face. A textured
string will help to grab the ball
allowing you to impart extra spin. A lower string tension will
allow the ball to hang on the
string bed longer giving the open string bed and the textured
string more time to affect the shot.
Otherwise, consult a USPTA or PTR teaching professional about
that western forehand grip
Mike Morris is a certified Master Racquet Technician through
the United States Racquet Stringers Association and has been
stringing, customizing and selling Tennis, Racquetball and Squash
racquets for over 20 years.