"What's New" Product Video
- from Tennis Warehouse - Nike Winter Apparel (Nadal & Federer Polos; Nadal & Federer shoes)
The Art of Winning/The Pain of Losing
The Pusher – Part 2
We received quite a few responses from our previous article on the pusher, so permit me yet a few more thoughts. The pusher’s mind-set predisposes him or her to a game devoid of offense, but equally, a game devoid of errors. And, if as so often said, the game is 95% mental, the key here may be in our interpretation of winners, errors, process, and outcome.
Losses to pushers are crushing. Wins over pushers are a relief. But somehow the term “good win” has had more to do with our estimation of the opponent’s offensive skills, than with his competitive ability. When competing against pushers, the options are “bad loss” or simply a win without any preceding adjective.
Sizing Up an Opponent
Consider the opening points in a match. The opponent approaches the net; your options include an outright winner, a lob, or making the opponent volley. Sounds boring – stay with me.
Too often, players at this juncture go for a winner on the passing shot, without any reference to the opponent’s volleying skills. And whatever the outcome of the winner attempt, it provides no real information, in that a passing shot error tells us nothing about the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, and a winner provides no insight as well. However, making the opponent volley does provide information – you might notice a confident crosscourt volley winner (now you know to either avoid that shot or anticipate crosscourt if the same situation occurs again) or, you might notice a particularly awkward forehand volley error (flashing lights on this one – you might have found a weakness, if not a glaring weakness).
As errors accumulate, on the other side of the net, this strategy of making the opponent play (and miss) tends to wear on the mind. Somehow after the 10th missed forehand volley, that opponent will, as likely as not, conclude he is playing poorly, and that thought alone often leads to an unavoidable conclusion – playing poorly sooner or later leads to a loss.
We have all seen this occur on the other side of the net. And we have all felt this at one time or another – stunned at how poorly we are playing – and to my mind, that feeling arises because we were forced to “play.”
Why do you suppose players prefer playing up? Quite simple, they have nothing to lose. It's a strategy (whether acknowledged or not) designed to avoid bad losses. Better players tend to hit the ball more firmly. We are not expected to beat such players. Lesser players are often more inclined to push the ball. And lesser players don’t offer “good wins” but certainly do enable “bad losses.”
If the game is 95% mental, your first hurdle is to get beyond the “bad loss good win” rubric. There is no such thing. An opponent is simply an opponent. They provide us an opportunity to test our competitive skills: one ball at a time, one point at a time.
To my eye, pushers, moonballers, and slow ballhitters disrupt the rhythm of the opponent. Why? (I will go out on a limb here). Too many coaches introduce “racquet back” in the initial series of lessons. Prepare early, get the racquet back, and get ready. Then the coach sets up a friendly tempo that reinforces early preparation. Further, most players then assume hitting late causes errors, when in fact, against pushers, nearly all errors occur from hitting early. Controversial, I know. But against pushers one must turn to the side early, and delay the backswing until the ball is into the contact zone.
Consider similarities between the throwing motion and the forehand. Throwers turn to the side, and generate the back and forth of the throwing motion all in one piece. Racquet back and wait for the ball, creates a two piece motion. Racquet back may, in fact, be an unfortunate bit of advice, well meaning, but devoid of elements of flow and rhythm.
When playing the pusher, your operative prompts must be, turn early, move your feet, take additional small adjustment steps when waiting (interminably) for the ball to arrive, waiting some more, then step and swing. The step is the trigger for the entire groundstroke motion.
Seduced by Form
We have all seen graceful players with long smooth strokes and excellent posture and balance – pictures of perfection. And as often as not, those same gifted players will beat us. But that doesn’t mean those who play without grace or balance are pushovers. Sometimes it's just the opposite; these players can be gritty competitors – what they lack in grace they make up in spades by a steely determination not to miss. The moral here is to avoid judging the book by its cover. The game is 95% mental. In this instance, evaluate your opponent only on the outcome of their shots.
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
Ever notice how effortlessly the top pros seem to swing yet how much power they are able to impact on the ball? Here, Doug King talks about role of passive acceleration of the smaller muscles of the body and the large impact they have on a tennis stroke. Surprisingly, it's these smaller muscles of the body that provide the quickest acceleration and that is where the speed comes from. Find out how.
Shrinking the Court for 50+ Players
Watch any foursome of older, veteran tennis players and you’ll be amazed at how they barely seem to run any more….yet they cover every shot! So, how do they do it? Simple, veteran tennis players “shrink the court” by learning to play more shots from the mid court. Ron and Kathy Woods offer some sage advice and practical tips and tactics on how to play winning tennis from "no-man's land."
ProStrokes 2.0 – Lleyton Hewitt's Serve
Lleyton Hewitt has captured 27 titles and amassed over $18 million dollars in prize money. Ranked number one in 2001, with two Grand Slam titles under his belt, Hewitt still has some life in his legs and fire in his heart. But the art of Hewitt's game has never been about fire power, it's more about his cat like quickness and positioning skills. His shot selection minimizes his recovery footwork. When he and his opponent are centered, he often goes right back down the middle, and in that instance moves not at all after his shot. In crosscourt exchanges, he is generally more acute than opponents, so that with the acute angle, he again needs little if any recovery footwork steps. New this issue, the Hewitt serve.
The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
Copyright Notice: The contents of the TennisONE web site and contents forwarded to you by TennisONE are intended for your personal, noncommercial use. Republishing of TennisONE content in any way, including framing or posting of these materials on other Web sites, is strictly prohibited. See our full copyright statement
If you wish to be removed from our newsletter list, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave the subject line blank. A confirmation email will be sent to you, and you will be removed from our newsletter list once you reply to that confirmation.