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April 1, 2009
Tennis practice: Is doing "right" stressing you out?


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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
Tennis practice: Is doing "right" stressing you out?

In my "Think Like a Pro" audio CD, I explain how the game of tennis is the opposite of what most players think and believe. I called this the "Opposite Phenomenon" and give nine examples. Players think the opposite about the right way to learn and practice tennis, the right way to win and lose, the right way to become a Champion and many, many more concepts. Years back, this was one of the major reasons that motivated me to develop my website, my books, my CDs and email lessons. I am driven to take my 35 years of coaching experience and instill it into a course or a tennis system to help players understand the game.

Notice, I said a tennis system, not just tennis tips. All my tennis information fits into a system founded on a philosophy that is connected to the big picture and long-term strategy. I reject the instant gratification of the quick fix panaceas that seem to dominate the tennis scene. Once players understand the correct information, learning may take time and it may require hard work, but it can be loads of fun! And you will improve far beyond those players who are looking for the magic bullet. These quick fix players do not realize that as they are wandering around looking for the Holy Grail of tennis, time is passing. Two years later they are still looking and their tennis game has only minimally improved. If these players had just methodically practiced each week like a true Tennis Warrior, two years later their game would have experienced significant improvement. The instant gratification in their quick fixes that they so desperately desired actually slowed them down!

Here is more food for thought in the practice realm. Players think the main focus of tennis practice is to execute a technique or a strategy correctly. Executing "right" becomes the priority and the all-encompassing mental and emotional standard of success. If "right" is not achieved in that practice session players become frustrated, annoyed and even despondent. They leave a lesson or training session thinking, "I did not do well. I just could not get it right!"

You may be thinking to yourself, "So what is wrong with that thinking? You do have to do it correctly." No you don't! This apparent oxymoron is solved by rearranging your mental priorities. Of course you would like to get what you are practicing right, but that is not realistic and is not compatible with the principles of learning. When I am coaching I am NOT trying to teach my students to do a technique or tennis strategy "right." I am trying to teach them to practice over and over and over again for weeks and months so right becomes a result. Right is not a cause. You do not just do right. If that were the case we would all be pros in a day! Doing a technique right is a result! I train my students to accept failure as part of the process until they get it right.

Cement this concept in your mind. Your priority when in your tennis practice is not to do right. You are practicing so that the "right," in time, happens automatically. To improve at a faster rate you must learn to orient correctly to this process, because this process will happen with or without you!

I once told a golfer who was practicing his putting to stop focusing on hitting the ball into the cup as the priority (doing it right) and the all-consuming end result. Instead he should attempt to hit the ball close to the cup a high percentage of the time and improve that percentage with practice. If he hit 100 putts and 50 percent of the time he was close to the cup, a certain percentage of that 50 percent will definitely drop in the hole. If he could increase the percentage of balls that are close to the cup he would increase his victories! Think about it. Tiger Woods does not make every putt, but I guarantee he is closer to the cup more often than most players, thus giving him a very high percentage of balls in the cup.

When learning tennis, if you are not going to practice with the correct long-term mindset you will not play your matches with the correct long-term mindset. Therefore, doing right for the moment will become the dominant emotion. It is time for some of you to step up to the plate, become a true veteran Tennis Warrior and stop letting "doing right" emotionally control you. Winning is all about percentages, not doing a technique or strategy right every time!

Your Tennis Pro,

Tom Veneziano




After learning to be a TennisWarrior from your books and newsletters, I now understand that we can be warriors in everyday life. I just returned from a bird hunting trip to Regent, ND. One of the guys was having trouble hitting birds, so on the way to our next field I told him the next bird is more important than the last one, and to watch the bird and just shoot. I also told him that hunting repeats itself so don't beat yourself up and just have fun. He started to hit birds!

I now use the same idea when I ski: The next turn, the next run, feel the snow, feel your body, have fun. A warrior is a warrior in all things. My next breath is more important than my last. Thank you, Tom.

Ken Olson
Bozeman, Montana


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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