Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Art of Persuasion in Tennis

“Persuasion:” “The art of getting others to see things as you see them.”

 Surely there is something more to persuasion than that.  If not, answer me this!
Say for example, you’re in a tennis match with players of reasonably equally skill level, and you would assume equal mental capacity.  Since Tennis is a competition between you and your opponents, if you’re playing doubles. “Getting you to see what needs to be done, if you’re losing shouldn’t be all that hard.

Maybe, we’re not as good as we think we are.  We hit the ball crisp, and hard in the warm-up, but the court appears to be too short for those shots during play. What do you do?

If you’re making a number of errors: say double faults, hitting balls into the net, when players are standing at the net, it’s time to assess what you can do to decrease the errors you’re making.” If we both have a goal of wanting to win, the solution to our errors shouldn’t be that hard to correct, right?  Maybe we should try a lob next time, maybe a soft angle?

Repetition they say is one of the ways to get a person’s attention.  Ok, so if you’re making the same error, shouldn’t that trigger something mentally that you need to become critical of your behavior, or action?

If you’re employed, and you are continually short when the receipts are tallied, you start looking for solutions.  When you’re constantly missing your plane, your bus, or subway, you might set your alarm earlier, get up earlier, leave the house earlier, so you are at the point of departure earlier.

Relating this to tennis is not that difficult. If your balls are going into the net, maybe should aim a
little higher, and when you aim higher, and they go long, maybe you should use more control, by slowing down.

More matches are lost on errors, than are won with winning shots, but how do you persuade your partner this is so?

I tried humor by asking: “Are you used to playing on longer courts? I tried reasoning: “Let them make the errors.  That’s Ok!  “You got that out of your system.” Sarcasm doesn’t work either “Maybe they will let us play without the net to make it even.”

Ok, Tennis Gurus let’s hear from you.  What's your solution?




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Winning Doubles by Serving down the Middle

Tennis is an interesting sport.  No two players play or think  alike, but they all crave the same results: to win.

For that reason, it is a "puzzlement" (King and I) to me why a player of several years refuses to see the logic behind the strategy, I use in doubles which is, to serve everything down the middle on the deuce point, as well as the ad point.

Let me explain by examining how I would play the first point in doubles if I were serving.  If this were a new partner, male or female, I would tell them that I would be serving everything down the middle, and anything over their head is theirs.  If I were to change, for tactical reasons, I would inform them.

By serving down the middle, when the ball bounces in the deuce court, my partner can readily see that he/she don't have to worry too much about the backhand down the line, and they would likely just hold their position, as the ball is likely to come back through the middle, and towards their forehand.

However,if the ball comes back out of their reach, which could result if the receiver decides to run around the  serve down the middle; then, and if the receiver in the deuce court happens to be right-handed and who attempts to hit the return wide, the ball would be coming to the server--my forehand, which gives me a possible opening angle, since the player, who having ran around the forehand to take the serve, would be out of position by being away from their alley for having run around the serve.

Now, as I see it, if I were to serve the ball wide, using a spin serve which pulls my opposing receiver off the court, he has the option of hitting cross court, at the lowest part of the net, or through the middle, since my net man would have to protect the down-the-line shot, and I would have to cover the sharp angle, or a drop shot.  Remember, "one good angle deserves another."

But wait you might say: "When serving down the middle in the deuce court, you are serving to your opponent's forehand, if they are right handed.  That's true, but a well spun ball would take the service receiver into, and behind their partner, and likely to cause them to make an error--not wanting to hit their partner.

As the server, I must come up fast and wide to cover the sharp angle, or if I'm old, dig up a drop shot at my feet if towards my forehand, or backhand;  and if I'm old and slow, this becomes a real challenge if you hope to win.  But if it's served down the middle, it's likely to be towards my forehand therefore anything through the middle is likely to  be hit as a winner.

That's how  see it, what about you?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Winning, doing what it takes

Having attained a year-end USTA ranking in Dec/2015, of #1 in North Carolina Southern Division in the Men's 4.0, 70-74,  I was seeded #1 this year and got a bye in the first round.
In the past, I had preferred not knowing who I would be playing. I believed, I would be restless the night before the match, thinking about who this person might be; and thinking about game strategy to use against them, and how well they played, and therefore not be rested and sharp the next morning.
Since my opponent was seeded # 2,  we were expected to meet in the Finals, which we did.

Having won this tournament--beating the same opponent-- last year in a tie-break, I felt my opponent Ron Keiger would remember I don't serve, or hit hard; but that I use a lot of psychology: laughing, using futility body language, muttering to myself at my errors, or applauding their good strokes.
Usually, my opponent don't suspect I'm trying to make them become over confident.
Drop-shooting on my return of serve to mix up my returns, as well as moving away from the center service mark to serve, which pulled him farther off court, making my angle volley easier, was some of the strategy I gleaned from two of my favorite tennis books now out if print. "How to beat better tennis players," and "Use your head in tennis;" but I'll admit it opened me up to some sharp down the line winners I could not prevent.
Having watched my opponent play the day before and having made notes, which I keep in a binder court side, I took the first ball of our warm up rally to go to the net to get focused, worked on my eye, hand coordination, timing and footwork.
This was intended to show my opponent that I volley consistently, and it would not be a good idea to bring me in to the net.
Thankfully, he didn't test my overhead which is suspect, and not totally reliable, because of my bad pain in my hip from prostate cancer, it's difficult to retreat from the net.
Many balls I would have retrieved in the past, I had to concede to my opponent, though they would have been reachable in the past.
I've not played or practiced since Saturday as my arm seems to be taking longer to recover since I may have unwittingly played harder, and with more intensity in the tie-break wanting, and desiring to win, but I should soon be back to exercising as instructed by my therapist.
P.S. Getting ready to do my annual reading of the Declaration of Independence at my teaching facility: Lake Park Swim, and Tennis. This year I'm trying to introduce Fencing.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Reminders can help on Changeovers in Tennis

June 4, 2016, as I sat about getting rid of some old press clippings, I found one on a 2014 French third round player Taylor Townsend, a top world junior ranked player in 2012.  What caught my attention in this story by USA Today sports columnist, Douglas Robson, @dougrobson, was that he mentioned that Townsend "referred to a small notebook of reminders on changeovers."  Something I've done for years.

This I  found interesting because today, I happened to be in a pick-up match on the Challenge Court #15 in Raleigh, N.C., and me and my Partner [who will remain anonymous] lost the first three games of the only set we were to play 0-3.  My partner appeared happy to be playing, but overly anxious, and made several errors, as he had just finished a Tie-Breaker League Match.

Ironically, I happened to have my own personal "Over the net" note cards that I had brought with me, so I slipped them in my pocket during the cross over, and thumbed through them before our opponents had taken their position on the court.  With their back towards us, they were giddy, playful and silly to be up 3 love and my partner serving again, whom they had previously broken.

They didn't see me show my partner one of my( 28) "Over the net Tennis Tip Cards," that read: "Doubles is won at the net."  He began to come in and they lobbed over him to his chagrin.

Me, unable to run like I used to at age 74, [Muhmamad Ali died today, he was 74] I took a moment to whisper in my partner's ear.

As I did  so, our opponents started to laugh again because they had heard me tell others about my warning card which read:  "Anything over your head is yours."

Well, we finally won that game after I presented my partner with card No 5: "Tennis is a thinking man's game."

However, we didn't get settled in the match until we were behind 2-4 and I pulled out card No. 9: "Get the first serve in and win," let them make the errors.

During the changeover at 3-4, my partner was late getting into position in the Deuce court--conversing with our opponents and I found time to show him card No. 17: "...Converse with your opponents after the match.  I then added: "Stay focused to win."

Miraculously, we get up 5-4 in games, and at 30-40 in the 10th game with me  receiving.  I coyly
caution my partner at the net to "Watch the net man, he may be poaching."

As the serve crossed the net, it handcuffed me, and I stepped back to get sideways in order to angle the ball cross court and farther away from the opposing net man.

Woops!  Out of the corner of my eye, and peripheral vision, I see the net man start his run.  Being sideways to the net, I was able to re-direct my return quickly enough  that although the net man came back, he was not quick enough to prevent the "Winner down the line."  Game! 6-4, Young-Eric over Phil and Bob.