What every man in his 40s ought to know about playing winning tennis
By… Ramon Osa
In this article, you’ll discover the 9 keys to winning matches you should be winning. You’ll also find out how to win as an underdog.
- The Winner’s Mindset.
We both know that our mind is key in how we perform on the court.
It’s either our best friend or our worst enemy.
That’s why the first step in playing winning tennis is having the right mindset.
Look at Roger Federer, arguably the greatest player of all time!
When you watch him in a match, you never know if he’s winning or losing.
That’s because he’s always calm AND EXPECTS TO PLAY WELL.
A calm state of mind is your single biggest asset in playing a tennis match.
It’s bigger than having a 110 mph serve or a devastating ground game (though having all of the above certainly doesn’t hurt).
2. How to calm your mind.
Our minds naturally race from thought to thought and if we’re not careful, it will wreak havoc on our tennis game.
Luckily, calming your mind is very simple.
All you have to do is become totally present.
You can do this a few ways.
One way is to just pay attention to your breath.
Another is to ask yourself if you can feel your hands.
Yet another is to simply observe your thoughts (without being totally identified with them).
Each of these ways take energy away from our overactive minds.
This creates a calming effect that you can feel throughout your entire body.
As a result, your thinking improves.
You become more “in the moment”.
You become a calmer, better tennis player.
Therefore, you win more matches.
3. Visualize success ONLY
We visualize everyday.
As guys, right around noon, we are probably visualizing a sandwich or some other delicious food.
That’s why it’s key that we take control of the visualization process when playing tennis.
Get into the habit of visualizing ONLY the outcome you want on the tennis court.
This sounds easy, but can be challenging (especially when things aren’t going exactly the way we want).
Between points, visualize the precise way you want the next point to go.
You can do this in just a few seconds.
The reason this works is our minds can’t tell the difference between what is real, and what is vividly imagined.
Picture yourself hitting your perfect serve, dictating play, and winning the point.
Do this using as many senses as possible.
See the ball shooting past your opponent, hear the crack of your serve, feel the racket in your hand, etc…
Never allow yourself to picture yourself performing poorly.
Keep your desired outcome precise and positive and fix it in your mind.
Do this between EVERY point, and you’ll be amazed by your results.
4. Have a great strategy
A sound, well-executed strategy can trump superior technique and conditioning.
Your specific strategy is based mostly on two factors:
What you do well, and what your opponent does not do well.
Generally, do what you do best.
Then, force your opponent to do what he is least comfortable doing whenever possible.
For example, if your opponent plays well from the baseline, but can’t volley, you should bring him in with short balls whenever you can.
If you move well, and your backhand is your weaker shot, you should position yourself to hit as many forehands as possible.
5. Play within yourself
As guys, we want to hit great shots and feel the exhilaration of a clean winner.
We also want to crush every single ball.
Maybe it’s the testosterone.
The truth is, we don’t have to hit perfect shots to win.
And we don’t necessarily have to do anything exceptional to win.
All we need to do is play within ourself.
If all you have is a lob, then hit it deep to his weaker side.
If all you have is a slice backhand, keep it low and move him around.
Also, aim for large target areas.
Instead of trying to paint the lines, aim 4 feet from the line.
As the match goes on and you become more confident, you can begin to narrow your aim.
By playing within yourself, you force your opponent to go for shots he’s not comfortable with.
In other words, you’re the one dictating play.
You’re in control.
6. Hit Cross-court
One great strategy to adopt is to hit most of your shots cross court.
This works very well because it’s a high percentage shot.
You’ll have more surface area of court to hit into.
The net’s also lower in the middle.
Finally, you don’t have to cover as much court when you recover.
Changing the direction of an oncoming ball can be difficult.
Hitting cross court eliminates that challenge.
Staying cross court gives you the chance to create a short ball that you can put away.
As Bjorn Borg once said, “Mostly I hit cross court, sometimes I go down the line”.
We should do the same.
7. Mix it up
Variety is a great way to take away rhythm from your opponent.
Instead of crushing every single forehand, throw in a slice or a lob.
This messes with your opponent’s timing, and creates problems for him to stay consistent.
You can also experiment with hitting the ball short vs. long.
And hitting down the middle vs. pulling him wide.
Often times, the more variety you have, the better your chances of winning.
8. Serve like a veteran pitcher
We like to hit hard serves.
It feels great to crush the ball.
However, often times it’s more effective to mix up our serves.
Instead of blasting every single serve, take 10 mph off and just guide it into your opponents backhand.
You might be surprised by how many free points you can get.
Mix in a good kick serve for your first serve.
You may catch your opponent off guard.
Constantly experiment with these four factors: speed, spin, placement, and where you stand.
By varying these factors, you have an infinite possibility of serves in your arsenal.
This clearly makes returning your serve a much bigger challenge than just gearing up for your fastball.
It also reduces your risk of double faults.
Finally, you can anticipate your opponent’s return tendencies, and plan your second shot accordingly.
9. Make him hit one more ball
Winning a tennis point is simply about hitting the ball over the net one more time than your opponent.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty.
Making your opponent hit the extra shot sends a message.
The message is “you’re going to have to do better to win.”
And this is a huge advantage for you.
How can you develop your serve into a weapon that wins you free points?
These strategies work extremely well when you’re playing tennis to win, and they will win you matches that you may have previously lost.
But you still need to develop your serve if you want to win consistently. You can do this with “The Best Serve Drill Ever”. It’s the single most important drill that has helped me climb from 3.0 to 5.0 in just a few years.
I’ve created a brand new video that shows you how to perfectly execute this drill so you can easily develop your serve into a consistent weapon. You can have it free here.