I can’t count the number of times I’ve attempted to guide a student’s racquet head to model a stroke, and the student was holding that racquet with a vice grip. White knuckles, and all. I see others grunting, attempting to serve, volley, smash, approach, whatever with high velocity, but moving farther and farther away from effective play. Not even close.
It’s a simple solution. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay QB said it best: “R-E-L-A-X”.
But here’s what happens with most students upon hearing this advice. Their joints all become jelly-like, and instead of muscling shots just to clear the net, they’re loosely flailing at shots that land nowhere near the inside of the court.
Isn’t part of the reason you play tennis is to relax? Why do you berate yourself and your abilities? Why do you insist on playing with fear, giving a care about the inevitability of your making a mistake, or even choking?
In Timothy Galley’s culture changer The Inner Game of Tennis he noted the presences of two selves: A Self One, which takes matters into its own hands because it mistrusts Self Two, and a Self Two, which is equipped with great intelligence, plus a conscious and unconscious memory. Self Two coordinates all the neural and muscular logistics for you to breathe and walk, in addition to hitting a half-volley. It is said to have the capacity of learning complex things with great ease.
Think about the many coordinated movements it takes to drop and hit a tennis ball. Now, don’t ever berate yourself for any other error in tennis. This stuff is hard and complex to learn well.
You must remember you are not your tennis game, and that you are learning the sport. Trust your body to learn to play. You’ll get it eventually. Allow the process to take place. Stop letting Self One intervene with ‘should be’s’, and ‘comparisons to other tennis players’, or ‘gross indictments of your lack of self-worth’.
Stop labeling your errors as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Errors can prevent one from winning, but they are also opportunities to learn about the way we are hitting. Observe the kinds of errors you commit for clues to any technical alterations you may need to make.
Bring your awareness to your hands. How much tension is there? How would you rate it on a scale of 1 to 10? How far can you lower that tension without losing the raquet? You’d experience real results, better satisfaction, and overall well-being with the release of that tension.
This subject is certainly worth more exploration. Your satisfaction and success in playing your best tennis are completely dependent upon it. Learn to relax, and you’ll begin scaring your opponents because of your aloofishness, which they’ll equate for intimidating self-confidence.