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Tennis Warrior
June 2015 Article

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Growing Pains in Tennis

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Tom Veneziano

For a long time now, you have been practicing with an excellent repetition training program. One day, all of a sudden, you begin to play at a new level. You think, "I've arrived. All my hard work and now I am playing my dream tennis." You are seeing the ball well and making shots you have practiced for hours. You have command of yourself and your strokes, and you are aware of the openings on the court. You think, "I love tennis!"
Two days later, excited about your newfound fame, you head to the courts to play only to find that Sally Sharapova has turned back into Sally Smith. Everything is back to normal! You think, "What happened? I was just playing at a higher level and now it is me again! Was it all a dream? I cannot believe I have lost my game in two days. What is going on? I hate tennis!"
No need to panic. I will explain exactly what is happening and why. Make sure you store this information in your Tennis Warrior mental files, because it will happen over and over again. When the time arrives pull out these files, orient correctly and you will manage the frustration properly.
To begin, your tennis game, as you already should know, has many up and down cycles. Sometimes you are in a good cycle and sometimes you are in a bad cycle. Your game is constantly in a state of flux. These fluctuations can happen within a match as well as from week to week. Besides the normal day-to-day fluctuations, the learning process also offers some unique cycles within itself.
One of those cycles is to give a player a glimpse of how he is capable of playing. I call this glimpse a "preview of coming attractions." The player's mind and body are actually telling him or her that he or she is getting close to playing this way but the mind and body are not quite ready. To play like this one time, yes. But to sustain it, no! The next match immediately confirms the body's intentions by reverting back to that player's normal performance.
Oddly enough, even though the player should be encouraged by these coming attractions, he or she instead becomes despondent. They figure that they have lost that high-level form, and that form will never return. Not understanding the cycle of learning, the player believes there must have been some hidden advantage or favorable biorhythm or a mysterious something that helped him or her play that way. They conclude, "How am I going to emulate that type of play when I am not even sure what happened!"
If this happens to you, just relax. Do not over-think; stay rooted in the training program and that higher type of play will return. Your level of play may continue to rise and fall, but eventually the improved level will be yours to keep. Now that is exciting! As I stated in the beginning of this lesson, this is part of the normal learning cycle. You must store this concept in your Tennis Warrior mental files for future application.
Okay, I answered what was happening, now why is this happening? Look at it this way. Your normal game was established after months and years of play. Now you have a new game developing. The new game must replace the old game in your body's sensory system. All of the internal 'circuitry' that produces your movement on the court has to be rewired. Before the new game takes over, the old circuitry must be totally upgraded. In a sense, there is an unconscious internal conflict going on as the new seeks to overthrow the old!
But the new is not yet refined enough to completely take the lead and run the show. More training is crucial. The new game must still rely on the old game for its existence and support. Independence does not come easy!
As an example of this tennis concept, consider children in their adolescent years. The child is slowly becoming a new adult, but still has many childish habits to be replaced. The new adult that is emerging cannot be sustained on its own and must remain connected to the inner child. More training is still crucial. Slowly but surely the transition takes place.
So it is with your tennis game when reaching for a new level of tennis maturity. It is not easy, but as a Tennis Warrior you can understand, adapt, and keep moving so the game will come to you. When you are ready, the new game will appear. Trust your body's wisdom to rewire the circuitry. Trust the process.

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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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