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The Tennis Business Discussion Forum Archive

[tennisbiz] Re: Short Ball Putaway

From: David Breslow <>
Date: Mon 29 Apr 2002 10:03:45 EDT

In a message dated 4/25/2002 11:52:11 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

 Any thoughts on this strategy and/or teaching techniques would be
 Rachel Crosby
 Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
 -- >>

Hi Rachel,

I'm a former teaching pro and currently a mental toughness coach for tennis
players as well as other pro and amateur athletes. Striking the short ball
successfully is a common challenge for the level plauyer you describe in your
post. It's been my experience that it is as much a "mental" issue as it is
anything technical. Players tend to become one or both of the following:

1. Too excited as they approach the shot therefore overhitting
2. Unclear as to where they are hitting the shot: therefore creating a
"doubting" swing at the ball
3. The feet slow down too much (if the ball is a slow sitter) leaving the
player not ready to hit the ball properly

I usually recomment the following:

1. Move the feet "twice" as much as usual
    This keeps the player alert and ready to set up for the shot by keeping
their mind and body active while setting up

2. Pick a spot on the way into the ball
    As the player moves in for the shot they "peek" up to pick their target.
The clarity of this target helps calm the mind and nervous system to the
muscles can perform the shot without too much tension. Be clear about where
the shot is going.

3. Take a calming breath on the way to the ball
    Usually there is plenty of time to let the breath out as the player moves
into to set up for the shot. This subtle action will calm the nerves and
clear the mind just enough to produce a more effective shot.

As far as the drills: get tougher with the students. If they don't hit the
first ground stroke properly they start over. If they don't hit the approach
(or short ball properly), the drill ends and start over. I believe it's
important to reinforce the positive execution of these shots and not allow
students to get lazy in performing them. Too often they just miss and go on
with the drill which only reinforces the negative aspect (missing and being
lazy...not focused, etc.).

As far as setting up for the short ball. One thing you can do is have the
player call out their spot on their way to the ball. I've used this
successfully as it forces the player to THINK and then SAY IT which helps
them BE CLEAR about it. The mind/body relationship loves clarity! Try
it...see if it helps!

Hope this helps

David Breslow
The "Root Cause Coach"
Performance Success Strategies


Received on Tue Apr 30 2002 - 22:36:34 CDT

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