Play like you practice, practice like you play.

04-01-2005, 12:32 AM
I've been told this all the time, but recently, I've become lost as to why when I play a match, DESPITE how good they are, I begin to almost "tank" and I begin missing shots that I NEVER miss.

My forehand is by far my most consistent shot, no matter where I am on the court. During a match (like today for instance), however, I'm hitting it long or into the net constantly. During practice though it's a huge weapon and I almost never miss it.

Is this just the pressure of playing a match? How do you overcome this game-killer, just by playing a lot of matches? It seems that I can't play at all like I practice in a match, and as much as I tell myself to stay aggressive and calm, I'm sprewing errors everywhere.

Any tips, anyone? :sad:

04-01-2005, 12:40 AM
I'm the same way most times. Especially in tie breakers. I've lost my last 2 which caused me the match (we play a "super tiebreaker" instead of a third set because I played 3 matches in one day). It may have to do with confidence. Atleast that's the thing with me. And also experience. My dad (who's my coach) figures that I have to just play more and play more points in practice not only with him but kids in high school too.

That probably didn't help but you definetly aren't alone.

I guess the way I think I'll improve confidence/learn to stay calm is to play a lot of matches.

04-01-2005, 12:41 AM

I could suggest three things.

The thing that helps me most in matches is to stay mentally composed and positive. It is easier said than done, but learning to discipline yourself can be the difference between winning a close match and getting beat 6-1 6-1.

The second thing is to prepare for each shot early, both by moving your feet as quickly as possible and taking your racquet back in good time.

And then thirdly, watch the ball, as it says on the Penn commericial. It's amazing how we can forget to watch the ball sometimes.

I think that if you focus on these three things, then you should play relatively well. The level of your technique and conditioning decides the rest.


Angle Queen
04-01-2005, 01:02 AM
Matt...has given you some nice pointers. And I'm sure Domino will come along and provide some as well.

Loved your thread title...BTW...and it goes a long way towards what you're talking about. My fellow teammates (I play USTA) goof off way too much in practice to suit me...and I try to tell'll you practice.

When I get down in a match, both scorewise...and psychologically, I try to focus on my footwork...and keeping the play. The serves aren't quite as hard, the angles (notice my nick ;) ) not quite as sharp...and I always remember...that I'm still in it. Depending on who served first, just one break of serve.

Also...I try to remember some pro performances...where they've come...from way down. On the ATP side...Hewitt v. Federer in DC play...and more recently...on the WTA IW, Clijsters was down 0-4 to Davenport in the first...and still pulled it out. As long as somebody's got a's still game on, buddy.

Chin up...keep at it...keep practicin'...and keep playin'

04-01-2005, 01:03 AM
I think of pros when I play too. It definetly helps. And I also love watching tennis before a match.

Angle Queen
04-01-2005, 01:10 AM
I think of pros when I play too. It definetly helps. And I also love watching tennis before a match.You too, hun? My current fav to pop in the ole VCR before a match is Hewitt v. Roddick at the '04 Masters Cup SF. A nearly flawless second set from the Aussie (only 6 UEs, I think).

Love Rog...but he's just...too good for me to even hope to emulate. I'm much more like the sense...that I have no real weapon other than...I try to get...every durn ball back. Make them...make the error.

04-01-2005, 01:31 AM
I got my Fed/Safin AO Semifinal from this year a few weeks ago from ebay and it's seriously the best $12 ever spent. It plays on my computer, DVD player, and PS2. Nothing can beat that match. :)

04-01-2005, 01:39 AM
There is a complex in Tennis that everyone goes through where they can never seem to translate practice ability into on-court matchplaying ability. This is, in my experience, due to what I like to call, the "control factor." In practice, several conditions are controlled.

Get to the ball quickly, and at the right spot:
If you are fed the ball in practice, often you don't have to move your feet that much to accomodate for the shot in order to set up. Often times, a player you play will hit a bit shorter, but with massive spin (as per the trend these days), and so you may be caught trying to retreive balls at your shoulder when you're used to getting them at your waist. You might be saying "I get to the ball in time to hit it," but the problem is getting the ball you can work with best. On your forehand, try to move up to where it nearly seems like you're taking it on the rise, don't wait for it to travel to the baseline. Forward movement into shots is a critical part in translating a trained game into an actual playing game.

Never use your weapon:
That may sound weird, but just because you have that forehand, doesn't mean you should go for it whenever you have a ball to your forehand. Rather, feel your opponent out with medium strength, consistant shots. Place it well, and develope confidence in the shot; build it up in the match, until you are ready to nail it when the crunch time begins. The first few games always seem critical, because you feel like you'd like to get it done fast, and get the insurance for later and try to go for your main weapon early to hurt. The problem is, you're not yet used to your opponent, and the conditions of the day are not the same as practice, so you need to build your confidence in your shots in those first couple of games. More often than not, this kind of play will result in an opponent being broken early anyway. I never try to attack my opponents until after the second changeover, and sometimes I wait until after the the third.

Now here's the tricky one...don't think:
Decide on the shot, placement, angle and follow-up movement and strategy before you begin to set your feet up. Don't change midway through the stroke, and don't second-guess. Get your shot ready where you'll hit the ideal contact point, and then execute. Do not watch your opponent until after you hit the ball and follow up with your movement.

Then the really difficult one...don't complain to yourself:
Dont criticize all the things you did wrong, just do what is right. You don't need to correct anything, unless it is the same error over and over again, from the exact same ball given to you. Then it's just a matter of adjustment, something you should have done in the first several games while feeling out your opponent.

I hope this helps. This is my four point list I usually give to friends at the local club.