More Than Just The Strokes
More Than Just The Strokes
As the title suggests, there is so much more to the great game of tennis than simply striking a ball. The intangibles that enable consistent winners, both on tour and at clubs around the world, are vital in a multi-faceted sport like tennis - a sport that requires not only physical, technical, and tactical skills, but also emotional and mental ones as well. The latter two have, thankfully, steadily evolved into an identifiable and coachable component, one that not so long ago was a complete mystery to most in that you either "had it" or you didn't, and that was that. Of course, it's a given that highly developed mechanical and physical skills are necessary to excel on the tennis court. However, what's not a given for so many is developing an equally high level of mental and emotional control - especially for those moments when under extreme pressure. This is not only what makes the difference in players otherwise comparable in their ability with the racket, but also what's ultimately essential in realizing one's true game within . . . win or lose.
Regarding those mechanics, trust me, all the six-frame sequential shot-making photography in the world is never going to be the end-all to honing your ball-striking ability. Nor are any diagramed multi-shot patterns going to readily translate into a big plus in one's match management skills. And you will not find any of the aforementioned in the body of work to follow. This is not Tennis for Dummies. Sorry, it's just not that easy - especially in a day and age in which we are constantly conditioned to expect immediate gratification. So, you'd better start getting used to the fact that you're going to need a coach to fully grasp all that's needed - even the world's best are subject to misperceptions and player's block - to eventually consistently play to the limit of your given talent.
In the spirit of the late Jack Barnaby, whose career as a player, coach, and athletic advisor at Harvard University spanned seven decades - if you're looking for a system of playing you will not find one in the ensuing pages. When asked at the height of his success what "system" he utilized, Barnaby stated that his goal was to "avoid all systems like the plague" and "adapt to the individual." Further, the famed martial artist, teacher, and visionary, Bruce Lee, put a viable Eastern slant on the topic with, "I cannot teach you; only help you explore yourself. Nothing more."
This guide does, however, take dead aim at those of you who have been playing the game for a while, paid some dues, and continue to be motivated to improve. Those that have maintained a reasonable fitness level, learned to handle the stick reasonably well - steadily learning the myriad grip changes and the accompanying variations in stroking paths for every shot - and who have, on occasion, been able to impress their sometimes skeptical selves with patches of outstanding shot-making, represent the heart and soul of tennis in clubs and at public parks around the world.
Amazingly, far too many of these passionately-committed-to-the-game players are too often not progressing - worse yet, they are completely stuck on a "plateau," as it's politely known - at a rate that's perceived to be both significant and satisfying. This is precisely when the going gets especially tough, and why the spirit and drive within has to always strive to make sensible solutions.
The real stumbling block in the average club player's tennis world is manifested daily in the fact that they are often blatant victims of their own lack of consistency. Then, cumulatively and predictably, the players domino into a state of self-doubt, unleashing th