Friday, May 20, 2022

Mental Tips from Golf to Help Tennis*

(*Adapted from "Lessons from Golf to Help You Master the Game of Life" by Patrick Cohn, PhD, Bottom Line Personal, May 01, 2022, pp. 7-8)

"[Tennis] is played mainly on a five-and-a-half inch course - the space between your ears." Bobby Jones, legendary golfer [Quote adapted for tennis]

Every sport - indeed every business, career, school track and life path - carries a mental component. Overthinking or mis-thinking can lead to under-performance and even failure.

We've all been told often that these mental states help - remaining cool, calm and deliberate; staying in "the present"; and focusing only the next topic or next point at hand.

Mental coaches have even offered practical tips to help develop these states, and push out our continuous internal dialogue and stream of thoughts.

Among these: Focus on your breathing, count off even numbers, think about your feet touching and feeling the ground.

Best results, they say, are achieved by NOT focusing on results.

So what do we do?

Let's look at GOLF.

Maybe it can teach us something about tennis and life.

First, we observe that the big key to winning in golf appears to be consistency - meaning avoiding mistakes and errors.

And the big key to that seems to be good and early preparation.

And that means focusing on the process of preparation.

"Process" over "results" is what your mind must be drawn to for better winning margins.

  • *Accept that you and everyone will make some errors.
  • *Focus on the process of your pre-shot preparation routine. (In tennis, that's early and smooth take-back of the racket.)
  • *See and feel your shot though visualization.
  • *Hold a single thought as you strike the ball on any shot: either ball contact, spin, tempo, balance, target, trajectory and so on.
  • *When you make a mistake or are frustrated, just deliberately slow down, forgive yourself and reset.
Doing some or all of these tasks will surely advance our game - in tennis, golf and life. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Twelve Core Principles of Tennis

After five decades of tennis: watching, playing, taking lessons from coaches and teaching pros, and studying the sport closely -- including analyzing players at the highest level both in the present and in past history -- here's my take on this topic: The Twelve Core Principles of Tennis. 

I'll set them forth in bullet-point format with only the briefest of explanations.

I have tried to condense things down to just these twelve, avoiding information-overload and mindful that attention spans are short.

I think that it's better for the reader to simply think about each of these principles, as they might apply to their own game.

*My great thanks and gratitude to all the coaches, teaching pros and players whom I have learned from over the years.

All the best with your tennis.

The Twelve Core Principles of Tennis

1. Tactics: Always change a losing game, and never change a winning game. (Bill Tilden)

2. Weakness: You are only as good as your weakest stroke. (Bill Tilden)

3. Mental: In tennis, you are never really playing an opponent, you are playing yourself - your own highest standards. (Arthur Ashe)

4. Mental: Stay in the present moment, and play only the next point.  (Rod Laver)

5. Improvement: The deadliest opponent is the one who keeps getting better - all the time. (Blake Griffin)

6. Practice and Play: Practice like you play, and play like you practice.

7. Tennis Movements: Speed and quickness kills. Spin is king. Timing and Rhythm is vital. Loose, relaxed, fluid and whip-like court movements win. Always move forward into the court, and step into the shot with full follow through.

8. Bottom-Up Tennis: Tennis is NOT an racket and arm sport. It is a game played from the ground up with your lower body (legs and feet) - a rotational game from your core, hips and shoulder.

9. Error-Free Tennis means Early Preparation: Strong Low Ready Position, Split-Step-And-Go-to-the-Ball, Getting a smooth, early and full turn, Racket back, Crisp footwork creating premium spacing to the ball.

10. The Heart of Tennis is Ball Contact Point: Strong, solid, consistent and out-front Ball Contact Point.

11. Tennis Intentionality: Strong intention behind every shot - where and how you are hitting it.

12. Above All: Have Fun and Enjoy!