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Tennis Training for Optimum Play
To master playing at your highest level under pressure, or even in practice matches, you must adopt two different methods to train your mind and body. One method works from the inside then out. The other works from the outside then in. Both methods support each other in the process of becoming a formidable competitor.
Inside-out training is the most difficult, but the results are quick. To train from the inside out means you train your mind to LET THE BODY GO in match play. This training requires you to make a decision to trust your body to perform as you mentally let go and execute your shots, shunning all tentativeness or cautiousness. The freedom you practice on the inside will ultimately improve your strokes on the outside. But if you do not practice mentally letting go, your training from the inside out will cease and you will never reach your highest potential on the court.
In principle, letting go is easy. You tell yourself to let go in a match and allow whatever happens to happen. But in application, letting go is much more difficult. Why? Two obstacles stand in every player's way: the obstacle of emotions and the obstacle of external conditions.
The obstacle of emotions:
When emotions control a player's mind, distorted thinking can result. Oddly enough, players tend to distort the simple concept of letting go because they mentally link it to playing well. If they are letting go and playing well, they will continue freely going for their shots. However, at the first sign of failure or mistakes, letting go is easily abandoned! In their minds, letting go is not working so they scurry back to their comfort zone of more cautious play.
Abandoning the "letting go" mindset during adversity is like stopping a practice session every time there is a miss. At this rate, learning to think correctly in match play will take forever! For players to learn to play at their optimum level, they must practice training their minds to let go constantly, in good times and bad, in successes or failures, through thick and thin.
The obstacle of external conditions:
Facing this obstacle, a player abandons the high-performance mindset of letting go because he feels the conditions are not right. Below is a list of possible excuses.
- I do not like the courts.
- The balls were not hit to me at the right height.
- There is too much wind.
- The balls were coming too fast.
- The balls were coming too slow.
- The net player kept moving.
Not one of these reasons is a justified excuse for eliminating the "go for your shots" mental attitude. That attitude is your only hope of playing your best tennis that day!
Inside-out training means you mentally control letting the physical body go, regardless of your emotions, circumstances or opponents.
Often, players who cannot mentally let go in a match simply do not trust their strokes enough. This means they must bring their belief level up. How? Tennis Warrior repetition training, of course! Through repetition practice they can bring their physical game to a higher level, allowing them to be more comfortable trusting that game in match play. This is called outside-in training because the body actually influences the mind to perform better.
Both of these methods, inside-out and outside-in, are essential for all competitors to play at their optimum level in match play. Train from the inside out by mentally letting go, and from the outside in by improving the physical to influence the mental. Ultimately, though, to stay positive during the adversities of match play the mind must bear most of the responsibility.
I think Rafael Nadal, after a tough win over Federer, said it best. "What is important is that my attitude was always positive," Nadal said. "I had a winner's attitude. What is positive is maybe that I was not playing at my best level, but I still maintained an excellent attitude. And if you play with a good mental attitude, even if you are not a hundred percent, you can win because, in fact, you win more with your heart, with your willpower, than with anything else."
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This column is copyrighted by Tom Veneziano, all rights
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.
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