HOW TO WIN MORE TENNIS MATCHES AND STEADILY IMPROVE YOUR GAME:
By… Ramon Osa of Osatennis360.com
These are the steps I have used to consistently beat more skilled players than me as I climbed from 3.0-5.0 in the span of 3 years.
If you want to improve your skills, or you’re not winning the matches you SHOULD be winning, you should keep reading this.
Today I’m going to give you 5 areas to focus on with actionable steps you can use so you can win more matches, while steadily improve your game.
- Master the “inner game”
You may be reading this and say “I’ve heard this a million times, but what the hell does it really mean?”
I had the same reaction the first time I heard about “inner game”, and was even a bit confused after reading “The Inner Game of Tennis.”
Luckily, I made up an easy definition that seems to work.
MASTERING THE INNER GAME IS ULTIMATELY LETTING GO OF JUDGEMENT.
Specifically, it refers to an understanding that your tennis game has nothing to do with who you are as a person.
The problem most players have is, they consciously or subconsciously determine their self worth through how well they play tennis.
Their thinking is “I really want to play well, and look good on the tennis courts, and I really care about this, so I better play well.”
I had this problem as a 16 year old kid who was struggling to find his “identity”.
If I played well, I felt great, temporarily! However, if I played poorly or lost, I felt miserable… usually for a longer period of time.
This mindset put a crippling amount of pressure on me, and effectively doomed my chances for lasting success.
The mindset of someone who has mastered the INNER GAME is:
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if I play well or poorly, win or lose, I’m “enough”. And, yes, I can improve… but nothing will change my core identity.
Yes, champions have a strong DESIRE and WILL to win, and they probably work harder and more efficiently than everyone else. But, deep down they understand the fundamental truth which is:
Circumstances and achievements don’t define you.
Understanding this simple truth has allowed me to play in a much more relaxed state than my opponents.
When the points “really count”, you can win the big points because you won’t have nearly as much self generated pressure on you.
I realized, deeply, that there is no such thing as failure. There is only feedback.
Upon this realization, I instantly began to play better, win more matches, and consistently improve my game.
When you realize this, you’ll immediately begin to see “undesirable” outcomes as learning lessons, which can constructively be used to make you better. And most importantly…
It makes tennis more FUN!
We attach meanings to events that create strong emotional responses in us.
However, it is possible to view each result as “just an outcome”, and to then make corrections to
improve that outcome. And when we can do this consistently, we get better and better, and win more matches.
2. Improve your technique, tactics, and strategy
Make a conscious decision to improve each of these areas every time you step onto the court. If you are 1 percent better each day, your game will steadily and consistently rise to new heights.
Once I began to focus on improving my technique, I steadily moved past all of my friends who were “just hitting”.
They stood in awe as I began beating the same people who had previously beat me like a drum.
If you begin to focus on improving your technique, you will see consistent improvement in your ability to set up and win points.
How to improve your technique:
First we need a good understanding of what “good” technique is.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of BAD technique being taught out there.
BAD, in this case, refers to any technique that leads to inconsistency or injuries through inefficient or un-natural movements.
There is a system of technique that I have used, and professional players have used that is based on natural, physical laws, that is GUARANTEED to steadily improve your game both immediately and over time.
It’s the same system that has taken me from a 3.0 to a 5.0 player in just 3 years.
Great technique will allow you to confidently go for your shots, TRUSTING that your approach is based on natural, physical laws that produce predictable, favorable outcomes.
Pick one area of technique at a time, and focus on improving that ONE area ONLY
Students often complain that “there’s so much mental noise when I go to hit the ball. I’m remembering to bend my knees, turn my hips, rise up into the hit, make contact out in front, etc etc etc.”
CLEARLY THIS CAN BE OVERWHELMING
Instead, make the intention that for the first 15 minutes of practice you will ONLY focus on one area of technique such as, “move with the ball”. Then, move on to the next point of focus. Over time, you can begin to incorporate multiple skills together. If you maintain this approach throughout your practice you will consistently improve your technique.
This simplification of technical growth will lead to consistent long term technical improvement.
You can use this SAME FORMULA to improve your tactics and strategy.
How to improve tactics and strategy
Tactics is essentially understanding percentages as it relates to the opponent you are facing.
At the simplest level, find out what your opponent doesn’t do well and do it. Then…
Decide what you do well… and do that.
If you do what you do well, and put your opponent into a position where he is doing what he doesn’t do well, you’ve got a decided advantage.
A good tactical strategy can make up for technical deficiencies. However…
They must develop together to maximize your effectiveness on the court.
3. Improve your fitness
We get so caught up in technique and tactics that we lose sight of this simple truth.
Comparing players of equal skill, the fitter man or woman gains a decided advantage the longer the match goes.
This is obviously true. However, not all fitness is created equally.
In fact, many men and women hit the gym for 3 hours a day and it KILLS THEIR TENNIS GAME.
They can bench press a house and squat an elephant, yet they get SLOWER on the tennis court.
That’s because they are training to be gym warriors, not great tennis players.
At the end of the day, being in GREAT TENNIS SHAPE is about 2 things: Movement, and elasticity.
Look at the best tennis players. Think about Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. What do you notice?
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that they are the BEST MOVERS and VERY flexible.
If you truly want to get in better shape for tennis, consider training with: Yoga, plyometrics, and high intensity intervals while consistently improving your EFFICIENCY of movement with proper footwork patterns.
Making this decision will put you in position to outlast opponents, reduce your recovery time, and prevent injury while winning more matches.
Plus, you’ll look really cool.
4. Develop rituals between points, games, and sets
We are emotional beings. We get upset when we lose points, or miss easy shots.
That is why it is ESSENTIAL that we develop rituals that bring us back to a neutral state of mind.
This can be done as reliably as turning on the light switch WITH THE RIGHT STRATEGY.
It is entirely possible, using the right strategy, to go from your present state to a desired state QUICKLY.
If you’d like one example of this type of strategy, click here.
Being in an optimal state of mind will allow you to go for your shots with confidence and allow you to handle adversity like a champion.
I used to be so nervous between points that my legs would shake.
I often thought of all the different ways I was going to screw up a match without hitting a single ball that day.
Once I developed a ritual to put myself into a calm, positive state of mind… I began to become mentally impenetrable.
The result was more wins and more FUN.
By developing the habit of employing these rituals, you will be totally relaxed, confident, and ready to play your best match.
5. Visualize success ONLY
This is what screwed me up for years.
I knew visualization was important, but I didn’t realize that I was doing it subconsciously and producing negative results.
Then, one day while attending a self improvement seminar in Los Angeles I had the ah ha moment and realized:
You must deliberately visualize the results you want if you are to obtain them.
In fact, there is physiological proof that the brain can not distinguish what is “real” from what is VIVDLY IMAGINED.
Essentially, if you visualize a desired action or scenario consistently, you will eventually produce that action or scenario.
For a clear understanding of visualization, click here.
As you are reading this article, you’ve been introduced to 5 elements that you know will ultimately make you a better tennis player, and win more matches.
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