.................Controlling them & Learning what activates them is one of the ways to get better.
There are Rituals & there are habits. My habit is when I'm coaching on court. My student does something good or bad & i try to capture it in the moment. I will cross the net by stepping over the net to coach my player but then when i'm done I will walk all the way around the net. I have never notice this habit. I have been doing it for like 5 to ten years. One of my students did notice it & brought it to my attention. Since then I have worked on correcting this habit. Its not easy. the first thing was stopping myself from doing it unconsciously. after being told of this habit the next day or week with the same student. I was about to cross over the net and then as I was about to step over the net, I stopped myself. my student smiled and pointed at me gesturing, look see you were about to do it again. I was able to correct this habit in 1 week tops. but it would never been corrected if nobody told me.
Now players that I coach on court, I Always ask them questions, like What is that & Why do you do that?
Beginner habits & The usual questions. IN tennis there are certain skills that need to be learned in the first three months or the player is doomed to mediocrity. There are tons of junior players like this. all with the same bad habits, but some of these bad habits are learned, & their coaches encourage it.
First Bad Habit is timing vs preparation. This is learned on the very first day of tennis. since players are usually novice and its their first time, inexperienced coaches will talk in tennis terms and confused the players.LIKE :" Circle motion forehand swing, you need to be sideways and step into the ball. " all those tips are correct & wrong. they are situational tips. But coaches regurgitate these tips like fanatics.
Beginners have to learn how the ball bounces when hit. Travel paths, the effects of spins on the ball, Beginners have to learn how to read. If the Coaches tell you what you should be reading then how will you learn. its Like taking an Hawk & raising it like a chicken. THe Hawk looks up into the sky and sees a Hawk flying in the sky surfing the winds. the hawk asked his mother hen whats that up in the sky? Hen: thats a hawk a king of the sky. Hawk: why dont we fly with them? Hen: we dont cause we're chicken.
My point is if you were never told what to do early in your tennis career. It may take a life time to fix. Especially when you are a chicken.
Intermediate players however are more like roosters than a hen. That act like they are the boss, but in the end, they are still served as Sunday dinner. Although that their timing of the ball is much better than a beginner. & they may have developed a weapon. they still have flaws that come from the habits learned from when they are beginners.
Example: Brandon Gita. I was teaching him about timing , how to control timing, how it effects players, how spins control timing. and I asked him to count the time it takes the ball to bounce twice. after the first bounce. first was topspin..... I hit a fast kicking ball ( brandon Counts fast. ) Then I Hit a slow ball with under spin. ( he counts Slow ) I stare at him like what are you doing. I say Again just to see if he caught his habit. and he does it again. NOw I point it out and question him why are you doing that.....brandon laughs and says I dont know? This weird habit effects his hitting ability when some one can control height, depth, Spin on the ball & Pace. Where did he leard that from and how do we change it fast.
Advance player about 4.5 and up. Have enough experience to make adjustments, but if that haven't fixed any of the problems of when they were beginners guess what. they stay that level the rest of their lives ( or until they meet me ). By properly reading, identifying, locating flaws & bad habits a tennis player can really make improvements & get better fast bu.... But the player has to do all the work & ask questions him/herself. Kinda like going to a doctor & the doctor says you have 3 months to live. start asking questions! Go get a second opinion! think of me as the second opinion or the specialist.
I had a bad habit of telegraphing where i was serving. Its a small habit that you probably wouldn't know or notice. & even if you did notice it you would have to still stop me. I have a ritual that is a habit now. How many number of bounces do you do before serving. IM at three on the first serve 1 on the second. Controlling these bounces may throw off your opponents timing / rhythm.
Grunting while hitting is a controlled habit that helps you hit better. It makes you breathe out which relaxes the body, conserving energy, speeding up the swings & helps you focus. This habit can be learned & messed up by not exhaling while grunting. So make it a ritual to grunt and hit.
Telling yourself you are pretty ( ritual ) by telling yourself you are a great player, the best backhand in the world and mean it will help you win more. But also knowing that the other player needs your respect. Never assume that you should win every point & that the other player is not as good as you. if you do so then you will let your guard down and lose. Think more that your opponent is as good as you and you have to work hard to win every point and you will win more. but dont pull your punches.
I'm in a tournament. my backhand goes off. its early in the second set. I need to fix my backhand fast. I ask my opponent to play to my back hand so i can get it back. He looks at me funny...... plays all his servers to my backhand. I figure out what i was doing wrong. I started to play better. That Sounds Wrong.... Right?Why would my opponent help me. well I tricked him to do it.
well What I really did was yell Why doesnt my back hand work. after his first service point. he served to me back hand the whole time. at 40-30 I fixed it & i broke him. Player habits and cues can work against a player. If i would have yelled why my forehand doesn't work and missed the first shot on purpose would he have served to me forehand???? don't know i just though about it. ( Dam....I will try that next tournament ) Its a ritual for me to look for habits in my opponents. Emotions, rest, ball toss, placement, and try to find weaknesses. But another habit of mine is to control the pace & rhythm of a match. I rarely let an opponent control how the match is played. I am armed with knowledge of the rules & regulations. Like for instance if a server, quick serves me & Im not in ready position or ready to return I call a let. Im not going to rush & Play before I can get set up. that's not fair. Its not a habit its a ritual. if i cannot get into position for a service return i cant return so i play a let.
I rotate all the balls on my serve so I always have the best ball for my first serve. I like having all three ball on my side of the court. I dont like to leave balls on my court while playing. I let players leave balls on their side of the court though.
Match PLay Ritual
When Winning ( KILL KILL KILL )
Im going for blood and I want to make you pay in any form. If i get up I try to hit bigger shots to break the confidence of my opponents. if a player is feeling blue or hopelessness they will quit and crack.
My opponent in 2010 ALTA Singles Final. beat me 7-5, 7-5 in 3.5 hours. I was hitting so many big shots that he told me he almost gave up. So in my playing understanding I was only 1 or 2 good shots from beating him emotionally. MY reason for the loss is, My volleys were way off from teaching right before the match. I poped up and missed all of my volleys, which is really uncharacteristic of me. Volley is also my main weapon of choice. because it can crush opponents.
Rituals on court also you will need all your toys, water bottle, lucky charms, food, entertainment, all that stuff counts. I carry my etchbery swing & my baseball bat. to help me losen up in-between breaks. if i need it.
I played a match and loss because I didnt wear my wrist band. I forgot it. all my shots were off. I was off. bad day. but my fault. For not doing my ritual.
So some habits are rituals that make you feel comfort. But be able to know the difference between good and bad for habits & rituals.
Replies to This Discussion
Very good article. My story is that I learned how to play on my own. T2000 steel Jimmy Connors racket handed down from my brother. Used to hit against our garage for hours and hours, pretending to be Boris Becker or Pete Sampras(depending on year). What that did was give me a crazy load of hustle, and I placed the ball well so I didn't make mistakes(basically a perpetual 3.0, low 3.5). What it also gave me were awful habits. Forced backhands where I basically bend my wrist and lob it over the net, soft forehands, and bad movement(meaning I always got to every ball, but it looked like a buffalo stampeding in the prairie). Not to mention that I never ever went to the net unless I played doubles.
That match I placed for the world to see...the one that I am punishing myself for by keeping it up...is what motivated me to truly train and start playing a real game. Now I'm ready to learn timing and understanding. Time to grow up, little Jake, this is for big boys now.
It was after school when it happened, and the last period of the day was band class. We were working on counting that day and the faster you go, the faster you count. I was still set in that mind-set.
By the way, one tiny little tidbit you gave me helped big time...the two fingers exercise. Didn't even catch that originally. I could probably do that when I'm helping less experienced actors out also. You probably gave me something to steal, haha.
dont steal it just give me my Respect and say where you get it from. CoachVtennis.com