In my previous blog posts, we learned that developing the right contact point and using good judgment on shot selection are the essential ingredients to winning matches. But how do you get there? Many players are aware that a good contact point is a requirement for hitting a good shot. Yet, in sport, knowing is not enough. Imagine Michael Phelps tells a person who's never been in water the game-changing aspects of swimming. Will that person suddenly swim well? Unlikely. That person needs a formula and a pathway to acquiring those game-changing skills.
When I was 14, I played in the quarterfinals against the top seed in a 16’s international event in Florida. I was shorter, thinner, and weaker than my opponent. I won the first set 6-2. I surprised myself. But I earned that set because I controlled most of the points by mixing my shots between low, high, soft, and angles. My opponent never found his rhythm in the first set, and he had trouble making clean contact. Unfortunately, I felt overjoyed and lost sight of my game plan. I began hitting hard. My shots continued to feel good, but my opponent suddenly began winning more points. He started controlling the majority of the points and thus won the following two sets 6-2, 6-2. I won the first set because I was actively thinking of my shot selection. The following two sets, I didn't make smart decisions.
Many junior tennis players don’t feel in control of their game. On bad days, players will try magic to make their shots go where they want it to land. I’ve seen kids pray, wear lucky shirts, sit only on the left side of the court, and eat the same thing at the same time every day during the tournament to not jinx their luck. In junior tennis, superstition is as common as it was in the Dark Ages because they lack the control that professional players have.
I hope your summer is going well. You will receive an email from me every two weeks on tennis related topics. My goal is to furnish you with the right knowledge and provide you with a logical understanding of the game. The topics will vary from physical and mental training, technique, drills, and understanding the physics of the game. Today’s email is an illustration of the importance of having the right knowledge. Subsequent emails will dive into specific components of tennis. Please get in touch with me if you have questions, feedback, or simply want to say hi. LeoaRosenberg@gmail.com