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Tennis Warrior
November 2008 Article

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The Missing Link

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Tom Veneziano

As I have explained before, most players that are learning the game of tennis overdo the technical skills and underdo (is that a word?) practice and repetition. They take lessons, read books and magazines filled with technical information, then go out and play. When playing they attempt to execute what they have learned. If they miss, you hear them wailing, "Darn, I should have bent my knees, I should have kept my eye on the ball, I should have moved my weight forward!" If the last tip they read was on keeping their wrist firm you will hear, "I should have kept my wrist firm." (As if doing all these technical skills will make the ball stay in the court.)
I have seen players do all these skills correctly and they still miss! Now what? I guess it's back to the drawing board for another lesson to find something technical that you're sure you must be missing. You're thinking that once you find out what's missing, you'll correct it, and voila! the problem will be solved.
This is the typical cycle players go in as they attempt to develop their game. Of course, when I learned the game of tennis I practiced, played, ate, drank, slept, and thought tennis for months and years to become an accomplished player. But, you're going to take a shortcut and have someone or some book tell you to keep your knees bent, then go out and do it, and that will be the reason for your success. Right! I hope you have read my articles enough that you no longer think in this fashion. You should execute the technical correctly, but not as the all-consuming cause of your development. The all-consuming cause of your development should be the same thing that has gotten all pros where they are today: practice and repetition.
Hidden within the repetition and practice is the missing link that is undeveloped in most players. This missing link is the foundation for developing the technical skills and will help you execute the technical skills more naturally and efficiently. Learning the technical skills without it is like trying to run before you learn to walk. The missing link is your balance, timing, and judgment of the ball. You can learn the technical skills all you want, but if these fundamentals are not in place your progress will be frustrating and slow. Not to mention when you overemphasize the technical skills you will develop a total misconception of what is necessary to improve and become proficient at this game. This is why you may even be having trouble understanding what in the world I'm talking about now! You cannot efficiently learn the advanced skill of making a turn on a bicycle until you first develop some balance, timing, and judgment. The same principle holds true when learning tennis!
You may be thinking, I'm an "A" player or I'm a championship player, I have already developed these fundamentals. Not so fast! The balance, timing, and judgment of the ball are all relative to the level of your play. As a beginner or intermediate player you need them as a core for developing your strokes. As a championship player you need the refinement of these fundamentals to develop the subtleties necessary for advanced play.
Yes, you need guidance in some technical skills (minimum), but even more important is the development of balance, timing, and judgment that only comes through repetition. Lots of repetition. This is not good news for the lazy or the slothful!
Repetition is the chariot of genius!
Let me close by offering you a new perspective on what you see when you watch top pros play. Notice that you do not see many players exhibiting superior, textbook technical skills, for they are jumping, diving, and flailing everywhere with controlled abandonment. You do see players exhibiting superior balance, timing, and judgment which allows their own style of technical skills to flow effortlessly.
Spend more time improving your balance, timing, and judgment with minimum technique and maximum repetition and your game will soar!

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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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