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Ed Tseng on USTA League Mental Toughness

 
 

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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, “DON’T double fault!” and you then proceed to double fault? You get what you focus on.
Don’t think about a pink elephant. Didn’t 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 you’re 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 don’t 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 won’t help you get to the next level because it’s 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 don’t know where you’re 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.
Daily motivational messages: http://www.edtseng.com
   


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   












Top Ten Racquet Tips
by Mike Morris, MRT, Phoenix, Arizona


1. You Don’t 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 don’t 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.

4. Lightweight 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, it’s 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.

6. Don’t 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.

8. Power Players, Don’t Get Tricked Into Playing with Inferior Balls
In most specialty stores you’ll 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, don’t
skimp on the balls and ask your salesperson for their premier or most durable ball.

9. Don’t 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 don’t 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 you’ve 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 You’re From South America
If you are looking to increase spin but can’t 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…

Background:
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.