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Tennis Warrior
August 2011 Article

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From Extraordinary To Ordinary

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Tom Veneziano

For a long time you have been practicing with the Tennis Warrior System: mental control and hitting lots of balls as your top priorities. Then one day you're practicing on the courts and bingo! Suddenly you are playing a new level of tennis. Your 'feel' is different than expected, your control has improved and every hit seems effortless. You've arrived in tennis heaven! You can't wait for tomorrow to show everyone how marvelously well you are playing.
 
Off you go the next day to be a star on the courts. As you begin warming up you discover your play is not the same spectacular accomplishment as yesterday. Completely confused, you think, "What has happened, where did my new play disappear to? Maybe after I warm up my splendid form will come back." To your amazement your effortless playing never returns! Your play is not bad, but it is not the same spontaneous wonder of yesterday. Discouraged and despondent, you would like to give up this silly game. After all those balls you hit, you finally had a breakthrough, yet one day later the glorious epiphany has vanished!
 
This disillusionment occurs over and over again when learning the game of tennis or any sport. You work diligently to create an incredible breakthrough with a forehand, a backhand or the entire game and then everything evaporates. Is this a normal predicament? You will be happy to discover that yes, this is normal. Remember, there are high and low cycles in every situation -- in your match play, your mental attitude, your forehand, your backhand and your serve. This is the process of learning. When players are learning the game there are both mountains and valleys on the path to success.
 
While having a sublime tennis day followed by a not-quite-so-sublime day can be frustrating, this is exactly what should happen. But why? The key is to understand what is occurring and to learn to relax and keep up those excellent practice habits.
 
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
 
An example of this confusing learning cycle can be found in the process of learning to ride a two-wheeler bicycle. When I was learning I remember getting on the bicycle, riding about two feet and having to put my foot down to gain my balance. I did this for many days, sometimes maintaining my balance for two or three feet and then maybe for ten or fifteen feet. One day, out of nowhere, I stayed on the bicycle in perfect balance for fifty feet! I felt terrific. I had arrived! I was Lance Armstrong! Or was I? The next time I tried to ride I was back to ten and fifteen feet again. I did, however, have fewer days with unbalanced moments. Not only was I learning to ride, I was improving! Soon I had more days with fifty feet of balanced riding, and eventually rode with confidence. The principle is the same when learning to play tennis. That one exceptional day is just part of the learning process. You are privy to a glimpse of your future game if you continue your practice regimen.
 
THE GOOD NEWS
 
The good news is that when this exceptional day followed by a not-so-exceptional day occurs, there are three bright and shining positives at work for you.
 
1. You are about to get it.
 
Although you have not yet mastered this new level of play, you are closing in on making the new relaxed forehand, backhand, or entire game part of your arsenal. Stay with your practice regimen and give this new game a chance to take hold. Like when learning to ride a bicycle, be patient and do not over-think the results, just keep practicing.
 
2. Your core forehand, backhand or game has just improved.
 
When learning to ride a bicycle, after the fifty-foot ride you then begin to improve on your base distance with not many unbalanced rides anymore. The same is true for your tennis game. After your exceptional breakthrough, whatever part of your game that had the breakthrough will maintain a higher level of core consistency... You're improving! Improvement in your core consistency is a huge breakthrough in itself!
 
3. You have achieved the potential.
 
The really good news is that you have the ability and have demonstrated the potential to play at that higher level! There is only one obstacle that can stop you now. That obstacle is YOU.
 
Discouragement, depression, despondency, and despair will distract your mental toughness and derail your game. Stay positive, be patient and that sublime play WILL return and become part of your tennis arsenal.
 
So you see, having that exceptional day followed by a not-so-exceptional day is not only beneficial but a sign of improvement! So have a good day!
 

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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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