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February 1, 2004
The evaluation technique


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Remember the basic principles for learning tennis with my system is to develop a 'feel' for different strokes along with developing mental skills through REPETITION.  Repetition of simple procedures create that 'feel' NOT an over emphasis on the technical skills and mechanics.  Click here for an article that I wrote on 'feel' vs 'mechanics' in April 2001

Tom's Online Tennis Lesson
The evaluation technique

Welcome to Tom's Online Tennis Lesson, sponsored by TennisWarrior.com, "Where you can learn to think like a pro!"

The Evaluation Technique. What is it? Who created it? How can it help your game?

To begin with, I created it. The Evaluation Technique is part of my system. To help players better understand the game of tennis, I categorize and label certain principles and concepts. Like the Refocus Technique. Remember? "The next shot is more important than the last mistake." Instead of explaining the whole concept all I have to do is say "Refocus Technique." Those who have learned the Refocus Technique with me understand the total concept. I have many different names that represent various concepts. Below are a few. Let's see if any of these ring a bell for you.

THE REFOCUS TECHNIQUE - forget mistakes and move on

THE RELAX TECHNIQUE - automatic and instinctive play

THE TJR FACTOR - Timing, Judgment, and Reading the ball

THE 4 INTERNAL SENSES - timing, judgment, balance, and muscle sense

THE MENTAL TOUGHNESS SPHERE - mind over emotions

THE S.I.T. PRINCIPLE - Systematic Interval Training

THE VISION STRADDLE - watching and recovering after a shot

THE DIRECTION REACTION - reading the ball's trajectory

TWO PRONG PRESSURE PLAN - preparation and experience

Some of you who have been with me and read or listened to my material should be able to relate to some of these concepts. And I hope you are using many of them...often! Now we can add the Evaluation Technique.


The Evaluation Technique is the ability to simultaneously evaluate two possible responses to a situation, then select the appropriate one.


In matches and practice sessions, players are constantly making decisions and evaluating. This of course is fine and necessary for improvement. Unfortunately, players often have only one view of a situation. That view is pragmatic...what works for the moment is right and what doesn't work for the moment is wrong! They adopt a quick-fix, short-term solution for the situation. The Evaluation Technique looks at two views, the short term view and the long-term view, then selects the correct solution for a given situation.

The view you select depends on many factors. Are you practicing or playing to win? Are you in a tournament match or a fun match? Are you trying to play aggressive tennis or defensive tennis? Are you in the beginning, the middle, or the end of a match? Are you tired? Are you struggling? Are you playing in the Zone? Is your timing off? Is your timing on?

For example:

You are beginning a tournament match and receive a short ball. You take the short ball, hit an approach shot, and advance to the net. Your opponent sees you coming up and hits a beautiful lob over your head to win the point. Your evaluations of the situation are:

1. Never come up to the net again. (the short-term view)
2. Keep coming up to the net, placing constant pressure on your opponent. (the long-term view)

These are two views that are circulating around in your head and you must select one. The answer under these circumstances would be number two, the long-term view which keeps the pressure on your opponent. Unfortunately, many players select number one, the short-term view that would remove pressure on your opponent.

However, if this same situation occurs but you are in the middle of the match and losing, view number one is a possible solution because a change of tactic might be necessary. You must weigh the two views according to the situation. [As a side note, the champion mentality often continues forging to the net with the confidence that they will find their game. And often they do! But to execute in this fashion depends on how well you know yourself and your game.]

The point is, you have two views (short-term and long-term) and you must learn to select the correct one for each situation. Do not automatically accept the quick-fix, short-term solution. In fact, the majority of time you should select the long-term view.

Another example:

While playing in a match you make the decision to "go for your shots" (the absence of cautiousness and tentativeness). After "going for your shot" and missing, you consider two different views of the situation.

1. Play more cautiously (short-term view).
2. Continue to "go for your shots" (long-term view).

The answer is to continue going for your shots. The short-term quick fix would be to play more cautiously. The detriment of selecting this short-term view would be that you never get a chance to set your timing correctly. Since playing good tennis is based on timing and rhythm, this can lead to disaster! Even if you win, sooner or later this thinking will catch up to you...then what? You have not been training your mind correctly, so when it's necessary to take your game up a notch...it will NOT happen!

The Evaluation Technique can be used in many different scenarios. As mentioned earlier, in most situations the long-term view should be selected.  If you would like to improve your game at a faster rate you must learn to stop choosing the quick-fix, short-term solution that is based on emotion. The concept of what works for the moment feels good, so it must be right, is an emotionally-based concept.

Below is a list of some short-term solutions. The next time you play or practice, use the Evaluation Technique and avoid them! Each short-term view is followed by the correct long-term view.

* SHORT-TERM VIEW - You stop "going for your shots" because you missed.
* LONG-TERM VIEW - Never stop "going for your shots." The mark of a champion!

* SHORT-TERM VIEW - You stop coming to the net when one is lobbed over your head.
* LONG-TERM VIEW - Keep coming up to the net unless your opponents have been regularly beating you with the lob and you are losing. It's amazing how many times in doubles clinics one team complains that the opponents are hitting lobs over their head when the whiners are winning!!! It appears that players would rather lose than have any lobs hit over their heads and still win!

* SHORT-TERM VIEW - You try to learn a new technique in five minutes and then give up.
* LONG-TERM VIEW - Try five months! You didn't learn how to walk in five minutes.

* SHORT-TERM VIEW - Your opponents have one good game and you completely change your strategy.
* LONG-TERM VIEW - All matches have cycles from good to bad and back to good again. Do not change your strategy because of a few good games by your opponents or a few bad games by you! 

* SHORT-TERM VIEW - You play to win by over thinking and over playing and never focus on execution!
* LONG-TERM VIEW - Champions play to execute their strokes and strategy, and let winning take care of itself! As a Tennis Warrior, you should learn to do the same.

Well... that's the long and the short of it! :)

Your tennis pro,

Tom Veneziano



Hi Tom,
"I read about your book, THE TRUTH ABOUT WINNING in the Tennisserver email newsletter, and I purchased it from Amazon.com.  It's a great book and I definitely see how it applies to many areas of life in addition to tennis." 

Thanks again for providing this wonderful resource.
Francis Perry, Manasquan, NJ


APPENDUM:  I teach a total system of thinking in regard to stroke production and mental attitude which I cannot explain in one email.  Although each lesson can stand alone you will derive tremendous physical and mental benefit by understanding the total philosophy.  These emails, my web site, books, and tapes are part of a course in tennis, not just isolated tennis tips.  They all fit together into a system.  A system that once understood can help you not only learn tennis at a faster rate, and develop mental toughness, but also give you the knowledge necessary to help guide you and your children to a better understanding of the developmental process.
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