Monday, January 24, 2022

Do you have enough deposits in your tennis bank account?



No, I’m not writing about the price of equipment, travel, or even tennis lessons. In this particular case, I’m talking about the mental aspect of the game of tennis. Too often, inexperienced players fail to realize the importance of each and every point and thus, make foolish errors. Every time a tennis player extends rallies, they are putting in nice deposits in their account. In order to ‘reach’ my students, I stress how expensive points are and they should not throw away their money by making poor decisions on court. Clearly, tennis coaches, who watch their teenage stars during match play, often scratch their heads in disbelief as they witness their students trying to rip the cover off the ball rather than to just out-steady their opponents. Though not glamorous, this is an efficient way to win points and eventually win games. Sadly, it might be the quick ESPN Sports Center news flash that motivates kids to go for ‘winners’ versus going for long rallies.

Recently, on the Fox NFL Sunday pre-game football show, coaching legend Jimmy Johnson offered: “Winning is not about how many big plays a team executes, no, winning is about how few turnovers the team commits.” Let’s face it, it’s not that sexy or exciting to just keep the ball in play and hope for your opponent to miss to gain your edge. But to earn dividends on the tennis court, one must grasp the concept of being steady and dependable. Perhaps no one typified this style more than tennis great, Chris Evert, as she literally accumulated quite a large bank account with her prize winnings, as she frequently won matches with her consistent brand of tennis.

But with the lure of explosive tennis equipment, teenagers are drawn to go for the big shot–thus the Sports Center analogy–, rather than to be steady, predictable and I dare say, ‘boring.’ Ironically, one of today’s most popular tennis stars, Rafael Nadal is so consistent on the clay courts at Roland Garros that he has won five French Open titles. During his amazing winning streak in Paris, Nadal won 31 consecutive matches; yet no one criticized his method for being too boring! If we want tennis players to be able to put more money into the bank, they must be realistic with their own tennis abilities. In other words, unless the inexperienced player can strike a winner from any part of the tennis court, there is no reason to be overly confident or bold with their shot making. My suggestion is to begin to embrace solid play; stockpile your consistent assets and soon you will be a rich winner. Good luck.

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