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Tennis Warrior
March 2007 Article

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Be flexible, try an option

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Tom Veneziano

BLACK AND WHITE IS NO SOLUTION

In one of my quick tips I explained that when playing doubles you should not put pressure on yourself to hit winners. You should wait until you have a high short ball up at the net and then go for the winner. This does not mean you never hit winners in other situations. It just means that the majority of the time, to play your percentages correctly, you wait for the correct situation. Attempting to hit winners occasionally from difficult positions is fine, but you should NOT build a game plan around such situations.

This is one of the difficulties in learning tennis strategies, tactics and point play. Most players like a black and white solution for each situation in tennis and they go merrily on their way. Unfortunately there are always nuances and situational changes to all game plans.

Example:

You are playing a spectacular match! On that day you can break many of the percentage play principles. In doubles you may be correct to wait for a nice high short ball up at the net to go for the gold, but on that given day when things seem to be going your way, you can hit winners from all over the court! You must have a general game plan but be able to modify your strategy according to how well you are playing.

To compound the problem even more, within that same match you could fluctuate between great play to terrible play. When you are on a roll, you go for shots you normally would not attempt, but when you are not playing well you stay within your percentage play. Tactics and strategies are not always a black and white situation!

ADDING AN OPTION TO YOUR POINT PLAY

This same black and white thinking is often brought into point play for singles as well as doubles. Players think they have only two options:

  1. To go for a winner by hitting the ball away from their opponent.
  2. To play consistent by hitting the ball only to their opponent.

They calculate all situations according to these two black and white options. No in-between! The nuances within these two options do not even exist for this type of player. Thus they never access the third and most important option: To play consistently by hitting the ball away from their opponent without hitting a winner. You may be thinking, "well that's simple enough." Excuse me for the pessimism but I DON'T THINK SO!

This seems simple on paper, yet it is not in play application. Players think consistency means hitting the ball to their opponent. And they think hitting the ball away from their opponent means hitting a winner. Intellectually you may sit there right now and think you understand the difference, but I'm betting that if I came to your court and watched you play you would be a black and white offender. Don't be discouraged though, most players are guilty of this infraction! This is one of those pitfalls to developing point play in tennis. Consciously you think one thing but subconsciously you do another!

Your goal is to add this third option to your game. The next time you play and you do not have a clear-cut winner, let's see you move the ball away from your opponent WITHOUT thinking "winner." In other words, you are not trying to win the point, only setting yourself up to win the point.

Whether you know it or not, this is called "working a point." When you have no clear-cut winner you work your opponent by moving him or her around and making them hit many tennis balls. This is a great strategy and an option that most players will NOT choose. Be a maverick, be different!

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This column is copyrighted by Tom Veneziano, all rights reserved.

Tom is a tennis pro teaching at the Piney Point Racquet Club in Houston, Texas. Tom has taught thousands of players to think like a pro with his Tennis Warrior System.

     

In Tom Veneziano's book "The Truth about Winning!", tennis players learn in a step-by-step fashion the thinking the pros have mastered to win! Tom takes you Step-by-step from basic mental toughness to advanced mental toughness. All skill levels can learn from this unique book from beginner to professional. No need to change your strokes just your thinking.

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