So, you've taken my advice and you're out practicing like a
true Tennis Warrior. Every thing is moving along according to
your practice schedule. You're making some mistakes, but
over all it's a winning Warrior performance. You're even
thinking, "Tom must be right, this repetition practice is the
path to tennis immortality." Then, wham!!! Out of nowhere you
begin practicing like a seasoned beginner. You're not sure
what's going on, but your muscles are not responding correctly,
you're timing seems out of whack, and the tennis ball begins
looking like a ping pong ball. Your shots are flying everywhere!
All you can think of is... Whoa!!! Then you begin thinking about
how tired you feel. "Aha" you think, "that must be it. I'm tired.
That's what's causing all of these problems. Time to stop
practicing before I acquire any bad habits. This is all Tom's
fault. He told me to practice, practice, practice, practice,
practice with massive repetition. But, he did not tell me you
quickly become so tired your game falls apart."
By the way this is a typical situation. Except for blaming me...
I hope! :) When players become tired in their practice they play
poorly and think it's time to head for the whirlpool. They think,
"what's the point, I'm tired, I cannot play or practice
effectively." What? You're tired and cannot play or practice
effectively? Who cares! Get back out there and mentally work
yourself through it. Why? Because this is what it's all about.
Physically and mentally working yourself through these situations
is what separates you from the players who quit. Mentally tough
players forge forward while the mentally timid boomerang backward.
But you still say, "if I'm tired I cannot improve. What's the
point?" The point is, this is the time you can improve the most!
That's right, bringing yourself to the point of being tired and
then working through it physically and mentally can help you
improve at a faster rate. It's a technique I use on purpose when
teaching my students. I bring them to the point where they are
tired. Balls begin to fly every where and they become a bit
discouraged. At that point I challenge them to forget where the
balls are going, to put themselves on automatic and keep swinging.
There are two concepts at work here. The first is you are
physically and mentally extending yourself beyond the norm. As a
result you become physically and mentally stronger. If you can
practice when the situation is at its toughest, how much easier
will it be to practice and play when you are well rested? You push
yourself to the max so that anything less becomes easy. If you can
do the greater, you can do the lesser. Push yourself beyond the
norm and what once felt difficult becomes easy. I use this
principle constantly when teaching... it works!
You must not quit practicing at the first sign of tiredness. Don't
give yourself excuses to stop even if your playing is terrible.
Keep concentrating and moving on.
Second, if you quit in practice because your tired and playing
poorly what are you going to do in a match? I can hear you now
talking to your opponent. "I'm a little tired and it's causing
me to not play at the top of my game. Do you think we can quit
and resume tomorrow when I've had a good nights sleep?" Do you
think your opponent will quip, "oh sure that's fine. Is that
enough time? How about taking two days rest. This is all my
fault. I'm so sorry I got you all sweaty and tired."
Again, you must not quit practicing at the first sign of tiredness
or you will train yourself to make tiredness an excuse in your
matches. You must effectively train your mind to keep fighting,
regardless of the circumstances.
And guess what? We're back to YOU again. There are built in excuses
everywhere that YOU can use to justify why YOU should take the path
of least resistance. I hope with this article I have effectively
eliminated one of your excuses. Or are you too tired to get it!