Several weeks ago I witnessed something truly painful on a tennis court and today I want to tell you that story so you can hopefully avoid the same fate.
On Saturday mornings I like to go to a local tennis/health/fitness club to workout and decompress from the week…
The gym is on the upper floor of the building and all around it are floor to ceiling windows that overlook the indoor tennis courts down below which means between sets of lifting or stretching I get to watch lessons and point play.
I LOVE being a fly on the wall and watching tennis, it’s honestly one of my favorite things and on this particular day there was a doubles match between four 3.5 level gentlemen taking place.
They were all having an enjoyable match accept one player…
He was struggling with his serve BIG TIME and the frustration was building on his face.
As I looked on he strung together 5 missed serves in a row: net, long, net, long, and then into the net again…
Each swing got tighter and shorter and more jerky as he missed serve after serve, his partner helplessly walking back and forth from side to side, his opponents sheepishly trying to tell him “no big deal” and give him a bit of encouragement.
Finally, on his sixth attempt to hit his serve into the box he completely abandoned all hope of hitting a competitive shot and gave the ball a full frying pan, “tap it over” hit which lofted the ball way up into the air, landing in the middle of the service box with zero spin or speed.
Of course, the return was a winner and his serve got broken.
He had fallen victim to the Tennis Tension Paradox.
The paradox is this: the more you try to micromanage any tennis swing in an effort to control where the ball goes the LESS likely you are to consistently hit your target with a competitive shot.
Hitting a competitive shot that’s ALSO safe comes from curving the ball….curving the ball is only possible with spin….and spin is only possible with free-flowing racquet head speed from a relaxed body.
As that player I was watching missed serve after serve he clenched down more and more which locked down his swing path directly towards his target on the other side of the net.
That choppy, straight swing path created a low, flat shot that had next to no margin for error. That’s why he kept alternating between the net and missing long: he kept directing those rigid swings higher and lower in an effort to find the box.
The Tension Paradox is especially painful in a match because you don’t want to look like a newbie or let your partner down so each time you miss you get MORE tense.
The resulting cycle looks something like this:
- The bigger the moment the more pressure you feel…
- The more pressure you feel the more your body tightens up…
- The more your body tightens up the lower percentage of a shot you hit…
- The more you make mistakes the higher your anxiety gets…
- Around and around and around!
Is this sounding familiar??
If so, shoot me a quick reply and let me know. What part of this resonates with you most?
Tomorrow I’ll be following up with the step by step SOLUTION to this problem.
It’s probably not what you think so if you have experiences like the one I described above be sure to read tomorrow’s message.
Until then, thanks for reading and have an amazing day.