nodot nodot
Hardscrabble Scramble
October 1998 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

Tennis Server

Do You Want To Be A Better Tennis Player?

Then Sign Up For A Free Subscription to the Tennis Server INTERACTIVE
E-mail Newsletter!

Tom Veneziano You will join 13,000 other subscribers in receiving news of updates to the Tennis Server along with monthly tennis tips from tennis pro Tom Veneziano.
Best of all, it is free!

Tennis Features Icon TENNIS FEATURES:

TENNIS ANYONE? - USPTA Pro John Mills' quick player tip.
TENNIS WARRIOR - Tom Veneziano's Tennis Warrior archive.
TURBO TENNIS - Ron Waite turbocharges your tennis game with tennis tips, strategic considerations, training and practice regimens, and mental mindsets and exercises.
WILD CARDS - Each month a guest column by a new writer.
BETWEEN THE LINES - Ray Bowers takes an analytical and sometimes controversial look at the ATP/WTA professional tour.
PRO TENNIS SHOWCASE - Tennis match reports and photography from around the world.
TENNIS SET - Jani Macari Pallis, Ph.D. looks at tennis science, engineering and technology.
MORTAL TENNIS - Greg Moran's tennis archive on how regular humans can play better tennis.
HARDSCRABBLE SCRAMBLE - USPTA pro Mike Whittington's player tip archive.

Tennis Community Icon TENNIS COMMUNITY:

Tennis Book, DVD, and Video Index
Tennis Server Match Reports
Editor's Letter
Become a Tennis Server Sponsor

Explore The Tennis Net Icon EXPLORE THE TENNIS NET:

Tennis News and Live Tennis Scores
Tennis Links on the Web
Hardscrabble Scramble Banner


Green Dot
Tennis Warehouse Logo
Green Dot

The Ritual - A Simple Start

Mike Whittington Photo
Mike Whittington

In many of the lessons I teach we discuss the importance of consistency. To most players consistency means being able to get the ball back to your opponent over and over until they basically wear out. In fact, some players feel that the consistent player is not really playing tennis but is considered a "pusher." I consider consistency more of a player's ability to hit a shot the same way rather than the number of shots a player can get back.

A good way to get a little more consistency in your game is to try to start the point the same way every time - get your ritual. Your ritual is a set routine that you go through before serving or receiving to let your mind know that the point is starting. Going through this pre-shot routine can let your mind and body get in synch in preparation for the upcoming point.

If you watched the U.S. Open this year you may have noticed the rituals of the touring professionals. Although each player's pre-shot routine is unique, each has some specific move that gets them into a mental state prepared to play the point. You might notice things like the number of bounces before looking at the target for serve, maybe a rocking back motion like a Sampras or a swaying motion and small steps before receiving serve. Whatever the ritual, it is the same every time no matter who the opponent. In the pre-shot routine or ritual, it doesn't matter the opponent - what matters is that the player has prepared him or herself for the point in a consistent manner. This can bring on more consistent play.

More and more I notice the similarities between golf and tennis. There are many of the same muscle movements between the two sports. However, it seems there are countless books and articles on the mental side of golf as compared to tennis. Over and over in these golf books a players is told to learn to focus the mind on the target and the ritual and then let the shot happen rather than think of swing mechanics. In fact there is a saying "don't let your brain get in the way!" which I think can apply to tennis as well.

The next time you play a practice match try to be conscious of your ritual and keep doing it no matter what the results. You might have to experiment to find what is comfortable but a consistent mental start to a point can lead to more consistent play. Start your ritual, visualize what you want to happen, then execute without thinking of stroke mechanics in the middle of your swing. Remember that winners visualize what they want to happen and losers visualize what they are afraid will happen. The results will speak for themselves!

Green DotGreen DotGreen Dot

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

If you have not already signed up to receive our free e-mail newsletter Tennis Server INTERACTIVE, you can sign up here. You will receive notification each month of changes at the Tennis Server and news of new columns posted on our site.

This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


Web tennisserver.com
nodot nodot
The Tennis Server
Ticket Exchange

Your Source for tickets to professional tennis & golf events.
Australian Open Tickets
Dallas Open Tickets
Delray Beach Open Tickets
ATX Open Tickets
Mexican Open Tickets
BNP Paribas Open Tickets
Miami Open Tickets
Credit One Charleston Open Tickets
US Men's Clay Court Championships Tickets
Wimbledon Tickets
Citi Open Tennis Tournament Tickets
Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic Tickets
National Bank Open Womens Tennis Canada Tickets
Odlum Brown Van Open r Tickets
Tennis In The Land Tickets
US Open Tennis Championship Tickets
Laver Cup Vancouver Tickets


Popular Tennis books:
Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis-Lessons from a Master by Brad Gilbert, Steve Jamison
The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance by Jeff Greenwald
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
Most Recent Articles:
October 2022 Tennis Anyone: Patterns in Doubles by John Mills.
September 2022 Tennis Anyone: Short Court by John Mills.




"Tennis Server" is a registered trademark and "Tennis Server INTERACTIVE" is a trademark of Tennis Server. All original material and graphics on the Tennis Server are copyrighted 1994 - by Tennis Server and its sponsors and contributors. Please do not reproduce without permission.

The Tennis Server receives a commission on all items sold through links to Amazon.com.


Tennis Server
Cliff Kurtzman
791 Price Street #144
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Phone: (281) 480-6300
Online Contact Form
How to support Tennis Server as a Sponsor/Advertiser
Tennis Server Privacy Policy