Monday, December 10, 2012


Tennis match momentum, how can we recognize it and then sustain our focus during a match?  Sounds easy enough, but try this when on the tennis court and not so fast, my chickadee!! I played doubles in a match yesterday and we won the first set 6-2, but then our game broke down midway in the second set. 

So, let us take a well deserved respite from our usual routine, and figure out...
photo courtesy of

What happened?? 

This odd time in the middle of a match, see THE SECOND SET, is especially what I am interested in today, and hopefully I can hit a breakthrough for my next tennis match.  My partner is a very good player.  


Physical Focus- I am strong, standing tall, with my eyes on the ball only.  I can feel my workouts have helped me immensely in my posture and strength when I hit the ball.  My stick is the Head Instinct MP which is slightly on the heavier side for regular racquet weight, 10.9 ounces, strung.  I like this weight as my serves go deep and powerful into the service box, much better than with a lighter stick. My arms and strengthened shoulders support the racquet well, so I am happy with the physicality of my presence.

Emotional Focus- Yes, any biographies you read about tennis from the best players in the world will acknowledge the emotional component of this game.  I am reading Serena William’s book On The Line right now. To give her emotional strength, she trains physically hard.  Really hard.  I know this, and am confident with my own physical training thus far, and as a result am emotionally fit for this match.

Observation Focus- 1) Our opponents are trying hard to posture against us to throw our confidence. They are firm and resolute with pressed smiles against their faces. They are tight, not fear-some as they want us to believe! I force myself not to pay attention to their presence. This is difficult for me, as I love faces and people, and it is so hard to not get pulled into another’s psyche. This very giving, curious female nature is inherent to us girls, and maybe that is the key?  Convert the challenge and have the opponent observe you and get into your psyche.  This tactic gives you the control, creates the distraction to your opponent, and gives you the edge for winning points.

 2) I see that my partner is simply on court to play her best.  She is naturally focused on the ball and physically fit.  She likes the AD Court and is happy and relaxed.  Her volleys are great.  She is pleased to play with a left-handed partner and I am in the traditional Deuce Court for the left-handed doubles player.

We take the first set 6-2 in twenty minutes.

Now for the hard part (as if the first set wasn’t hard enough!)


Physical Focus-  I feel physically loose and pretty good, but after some time my breathing is heavier but still not too bad, I am actually pleased I am in pretty good condition, but wish I was a bit better.  My legs are good taking me to the ball.  My hand, arm and shoulder are fine. But somehow, fatigue has crept in and my timing to hit the ball is a bit altered, so my balls go out instead of in. Not that much but enough to discern me.

Emotional Focus- I am really pleased we took the first set, but am fearful our game will break down.  And it does. I wonder if we can win this match, how and why are our opponents catching up?  What are we doing wrong here that we did not do in the first set? I am serving, and forcing myself to think about the ball and the game only, but I am definitely distracted in my thoughts.  I know this is bad to think and wonder, but doubt keeps lurking into the mind anyway. What do these thoughts of mine mean?  Why doe s this “stuff” go through my head? I have to get rid of any thoughts and plow through to take the game.  Multiple deuces, then finally I serve out the game.  We do not catch up, however; instead, we ultimately lose the second set 3-6.

Observation Focus- 1) I know that my balls are going out a bit more, and am frantic to get this malfunction under control. Knowing this helped somewhat, but not enough.  Maybe it is my sneakers, I need to move better and now they do feel tight in the toe. This is not an excuse, because the proper equipment means all the difference.

2) My partner’s shots are breaking down, too. I do not know why, she is a very nice player! I am neutral to her and that seems okay with her, we do get some points but not on the crucial ones.  I know I should be helping her more by focusing better myself, but this is not working. besides, the opposition has targeted her and not hitting to me as much, they have noticed her breakdown. I am frantic. Clearly, we have both LOST FOCUS!!

RESULT- this was a timed match, and we wound up losing by one game.


Physical Focus- Keep working out, stay hydrated and bring your water jug! Bring what is familiar to you, no substitutes, please!  Do more pushups to build up the shoulder area, and keep swimming for cardio strength to keep the lungs open.

Emotional Focus- Keep up the self discipline to block mental distraction, either from my own mind or on court observations-parse out what is relevant and not relevant while on the tennis court. Any negatives, roll up into a ball and toss them away!!

Observation Focus- 1) Keep my eye on the ball and nothing else.  So many pros, Monica Seles included, look to the seams of the ball to pinpoint their minds on the task at hand.  Observe the opponent weakness and capitalize. And repeat the opportunity as any opponent will not fix a weak backhand or a soft serve within a match. Capitalize on and exploit the opponent weakness. Observe and capitalize.  Why? They are doing this very same tactic against you, too! 

2) And, observe thy partner, be sure to be on your game if your partner’s game is breaking down-help her by focusing better yourself, and she will return (if somewhat) to her customary better playing.

Remember, your opponents are on court for the same reason you are- to win!!! Besides, of course, getting a great work out and having fun besides!

In my next match I will follow and use these tactics for a winning match.

And if you like to keep track of the time...

This is a really pretty watch!!

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