Do you have trouble switching from playing tennis indoors to playing tennis outdoors or changing form one environment to another? Would you like to know why you have this difficulty?
Playing tennis indoors and playing tennis outdoors are different. Most players have a tough time making the necessary adjustments. Recently I was coaching Nico, an extremely talented player who had been playing indoors for months. He then attempted to play outdoors and was a mess! Balls were flying everywhere. He had beautiful stroke mechanics indoors, but outdoors he looked clumsy and awkward...what happened? Nico still possessed the same stroke mechanics, yet he could not execute those fabulous strokes outdoors.
Even without windy conditions players seem to struggle when switching from indoors to outdoors. You still possess the same stroke skills, so what gives? Why can't you simply go out, hit a few balls to warm up, make a few adjustments and play?
For answers, let's go to the Tennis Warrior System where I teach that the senses define a player's stroke, not the mechanics. Sense of timing, sense of judgment, sense of balance and muscle sense. All four of these senses work together to develop a 'feel' for a stroke.
To the player who often plays indoors these senses are in harmony with the surrounding atmosphere, background, court surface, lighting and sounds. The subconscious has adjusted to and is set to these surroundings. Therefore the senses are automatically calculating, moment by moment, all the differences in your surroundings. All this without your even being aware of it! As you are about to hit a tennis ball, your senses determine the velocity, trajectory, depth and spin of the ball, then weigh this information against your surroundings. Amazing, isn't it! And you thought you were just out there mechanically hitting a ball. NOT EVEN CLOSE! I repeat. NOT EVEN CLOSE! In fact the mechanics are child's play compared to what is going on inside your body.
Can you see the problem that occurs when switching to a different environment? Whether switching from indoors to outdoors or just changing your location outdoors, you have a totally different set of surroundings. A new atmosphere, background, court surface, lighting and sounds that the senses must now respond to and adjust! The mechanics of the stroke have not gone awry. Instead your senses have been temporarily short-circuited. They are still operating, but are set for the old environment! As a result your 'feel' is gone and you feel clumsy and completely out of sync! Help! What should you do?
The first thing to do is come to your senses! :) DO NOT PANIC! Just relax and begin retraining the senses. But how? Here is what I told Nico. I assured him that his mechanics were just fine, but his senses were being challenged. He was supposed to just relax and let his subconscious slowly figure out how to reset his sense of timing, judgment, balance and muscle sense to the new environment. I told him to not expect the 'feel' to be the same outdoors as the 'feel' is indoors. He was to allow himself to develop a new 'feel' based on his new surroundings. Slowly, Nico worked himself into this new arena.
The secret is to NOT stand in the way of this process. Do not force the old senses developed from a different tennis environment onto the new tennis environment. It will not work! It will only serve to frustrate you. Do NOT expect the 'feel' to be the same! Be patient and your new 'feel' will emerge.
NOTE: The longer you play at a particular tennis location (whether indoors or outdoors) the longer it will take to adjust when you move to another tennis environment. Adjusting may even take days! Why do you think touring pros arrive at a tournament a week ahead of time to practice? They are retraining the senses. You must do the same!