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December 1, 2004
Put aside your ego in pursuit of excellence!


Welcome to all the new subscribers to my email tennis lessons.  You will receive one long lesson on the first of every month and some quick tips in between.

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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
Put aside your ego in pursuit of excellence!

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

I have had the great fortune to coach many club players, junior players and pros over the years. Right now I am working with Nico Heidari a 22 years old tennis pro who is the 42nd ranked player in the Mens Open Division in Texas. He is a talented and spirited player (often too spirited!) but he still has a long way to go to develop his game to the level he aspires to play. Nico would like to play the Futures or Challengers (preliminary tournaments to qualify for the major tournaments) and eventually acquire some ATP points to receive a world ranking. This means work, work, work - repetition, repetition, repetition!

A pro has the same set of mentally tough problems that you have! No matter which way you look at it, the mental challenges are the same on all levels! Pros have to learn to close out matches, forget their mistakes, not over-think, control their emotions, select correct shots, and so on. Roger Federer, the number one player in the world, would be a perfect example of a player who has mastered these principles.

You may be thinking "why have some pros not mastered these mental challenges?" I will answer that question with another question. Have you mastered your mental challenges? If you became a pro you would have a similar set of mental challenges relative to your level of play. If you have not mastered these challenges on your current level of play you would do no better as a pro! Just because you are a pro does not mean you are mentally tough...NOT EVEN CLOSE! Do not confuse playing well with being mentally tough. Many correct decisions still have to be made. Even if you master these challenges on one level, as you move up to the next level you will have to do it all over again!  

One situation that we all can learn from occurred with Nico in his match play. My job is to figure out where his thinking has gone awry, bring it to his attention, discuss it with him and hopefully fix the problem. Then, the hard part begins. He will have to adjust his thinking and line it up with the correct mindset when under pressure.  Not an easy task for anyone, on any level!

In a practice match Nico was playing a tough opponent. The match was close but Nico was thinking and executing well. All of a sudden he went into hyper-gear trying to win points by over-playing with excessive power. The result was unforced errors everywhere! I thought to myself, "what in the world happened? How does a player go from controlled, relaxed tennis one moment to anxious out of control tennis the next for no apparent reason?" As I thought about the situation, it dawned on me that Nico thought he had to change his game to stay with his opponent and win. But why? Why did he make the change?

I traced back to what happened before this apparent inconsistency and could not come up with anything. In the last point he played, Nico moved the ball around well, got a short ball, came up to the net and his opponent passed him with a nice shot to win the point. Nico made his opponent earn the point. Well done. Then it hit me! What appeared to be a routine point had a profound effect on Nico. In his mind he played a great point (which he did) but felt the emotional sting of his opponent staying with him then passing him at the net to win the point. In other words his pride and his emotion came into play leading to a miscalculation.

The negative feeling from the opponents great play made Nico 'feel' like he was in trouble! His emotions set in! This motivated him to hit harder to get back at his opponent and turn this match around! There was only one problem. There was nothing to turn around! He was in the match the whole time. The opponent  was merely staying with him and playing some superb points. Nico simply became emotional and reacted incorrectly to the situation. When emotion controls your thinking you will react incorrectly to similar situations.

Nico went on to lose that match, and afterward we sat down to analyze the calamity. To his credit, he has done a 180 in regard to his mental attitude! That, to me, is impressive!!! He learned quickly to suppress false pride and the accompanying emotional reaction for the sake of developing his game. 

This is a situation that you will have to contend with often. Your pride, ego, vanity, call it what you wish, gets in the way and you become emotional and react. Do NOT let the pressure of your opponent who is playing well cause you to emotionally miscalculate. Do NOT over-think. Do NOT over-play. Do NOT over-react. Just stay calm, stay relaxed, accept these situations as part of the game and wait for your own opportunities to shine! Controlled emotions is the signature of a true champion. Champions successfully suppress incorrect feelings for the sake of future victory.

On page five of "I've Got Your Back" by Brad Gilbert, there is a quote about the great former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden who won 10 NCAA titles in his 12 years as their head coach. Brad said, "He [John Wooden] inspired every one of his players to put aside his ego in pursuit of excellence."

I challenge you to do the same!

Your tennis pro,

Tom Veneziano



Hi Tom,

"I ordered your book "The Truth About Winning" and it has made a world of different in my approach to the game of tennis. My level of play has improved and so has my serve. Thanks Tom."
Garland S. Elmore
Elkview, West Virginia


ADDENDUM:  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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