Put Yourself in Roddick’s Shoes
Buy any Babolat shoe and racquet* and get a free club backpack. With a portion of the proceeds going to the Andy Roddick Foundation, you can give a little back--just like Andy. For even more free gear, try your luck at www.babolat.com/AdvantageBabolat for weekly giveaways and the ultimate prize--hitting with Roddick himself at the US Open. The offer is valid through May 18, 2010 at participating dealers. So, if you want Roddick’s life…start with his shoes.
*All adult racquets; Aeropro Drive Jr. and Pure Drive Roddick Jr. racquets; and all adult and junior shoes eligible for promotion.
Chickens Don't Win, They Just Get Eaten
This is one of my favorite things to say to my students when they come off the court after a match and did not have the courage to play their game, hit out on the ball, or lay it on the line when it counted. We typically get a good laugh out of it but there is a lot of truth to this little phrase.
Every athlete in every sport feels tight or nervous during competition. The arms can feel like lead weights, the legs like jelly, and sometimes the stomach can feel as if it has a bowling ball floating around in it. One of the differences of the successful athletes (the players who win competitions), is how they handle these feelings and emotions. What one chooses to do when faced with these anxieties, and fears will determine not only how one plays but how one feels after the competition about themselves – even if they lose!
In the scope of life, what is the most important thing? Winning, well you can't always control that and it can set you up for disappointment. But knowledge that you gave everything you possibly could both mentally and physically to the competition, that you left everything out on the court, that is what you should strive for.
You cannot control winning or losing but you can control your mental approach to competition. That has a direct effect on not only the outcome of a match but how you feel about yourself after the competition.
"It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. . . In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail. . . They may not love you at the time, but they will later."
Vince Lombardi - Coach of the 5 time NFL Champion Green Bay Packers
Vince Lombardi (see quotes under photo below), voted ESPN's coach of the century, pretty much sums up what competition should be all about and brings us back to my phrase, "chickens don't win they just get eaten."
How many times have you come off the tennis court after a match and thought to yourself, if only I had the guts to go for that serve on game point, or hit that forehand down the line when I had the chance, or put away that easy short ball.
We have all been there and had similar thoughts, but the players who make the choice before they compete in the match; the players who run down every ball and, when it counts, have the courage to let go and go for their shots without fear; they are the players that in the end seem to succeed more than the rest. Whether these players win or lose isn't even the issue. They seem to rebound after losses and continue to move forward towards improvement and self-belief either way.
Whether you are a club player, league player, or a tournament player, how you approach each match mentally will determine if you gain from the experience regardless of whether you win or lose. How many times have successful athletes from the past failed but went on to gain glory because they chose to believe in themselves and to persist through failure after failure knowing in the end they would succeed.
Michael Jordan is one of those examples. He did not even make his high school basketball team in the 9th grade because the coach said he was not good enough, but this only drove him to work harder. Jordan chose not to be discouraged, and instead, decided to believe in himself and take control of his own destiny.
Michael Jordon failed time and time again yet he also succeeded more than any other player.
"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Michael Jordan - six time NBA champion and all-time leading scoring average in NBA history.
The fact is when someone thinks of Michael Jordan, what comes to mind are the six NBA titles and the best basketball player in history. They do not think of the 26 potential game winning shots he missed or the 300 games he lost.
The attitude Jordan lived by is what made him successful and one that we as competitors can all learn a great deal from. The fact that he was willing to take those 25 potential game winning shots after he missed the first one is what a winner's attitude is all about.
This is the mental approach you as a tennis player should adopt to reach your full potential. When you are in that tie breaker, serving for the match, or any other close situation, do not think of the outcome but rather choose to go for it without worrying about the consequences.
The reality is, tennis is merely a game that you play and what's the worst that can happen? It is really quite simple, you only lose a match and that is all. There is always another match, another tournament, another chance to play, as this sport lasts a lifetime.
"I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot... when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result." – Michael Jordan
But if you choose to be cautious, to play it safe, to hit it to them, to be afraid, this can leave a much more lasting impact on your character than if you had the willingness to lay it on the line, walk on the edge, and let the cards fall where they may. If you played in fear and are not willing to lay it on the line, then how do you truly know you were not better than the resulting outcome. That's just it, you will never know.
"If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." – Michael Jordan
One of my pro player students, Alex Bogomolov, at the 2005 US Open experienced this exact situation. He approached his three qualifying matches with the willingness to let go and chose to play to win with out regard for the outcome. He had a game plan, executed it, and it worked for him. However, when playing against top 10 ranked David Nalbandian in the first round of the main draw, he began to think of the outcome and and how it could help his career.
Alex Bogomolov couldn't stay mentally focused in his match against Nalbandian.
He lost the first set, then played fearlessly in the second and got the break to go up 5-2. However, he then tried to protect his lead and quit doing the things that got him the lead: attacking, playing aggressively, and applying constant pressure to Nalbandian. Instead Alex began to play defensive tennis, hoping Nalbandian would give him some easy points. However, top ten players don't do that and eventually, Alex lost the lead and the set.
After that, Alex mentally regrouped and recommitted himself. Again he broke Nalbandian and led 4-2 in the third, only do the same thing once again. Alex backed off his game and played defensively and the result was the same.
Alex learned a great lesson that day. He knew that he did not go for it when it counted and did not remain committed to his attacking game but rather played not to lose. It was a hard loss and a tough lesson. Much more painful to accept knowing that, "If I had only played to win when I had the opportunities then the result could have been different." It is not easy to approach competition in this manner but that is the great thing about life...we all have the ability to choose.
Today, tomorrow, and everyday I encourage you to make that choice each time you walk onto the court. Make the choice to lay it on the line, to go for it when it counts, to play to win, to leave it all out on the court win or lose. Do this, and I guarantee you will feel accomplished after every match and will have, more importantly, built a stronger character even if you lose. So when faced with big matches, you can always think back to the little phrase "chickens don't win, they just get eaten." Give yourself a bit of a laugh and more importantly perhaps, inspire yourself to not get eaten!
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The Rhythmic Forehand
Using the SportsCAD Analysis package, Doug King breaks down the forehands of Nikolay Davydenko and Marin Cilic and explains how they generate so much power. Doug demonstrates how a non-linear racquet path uses angular momentum to create maximum racquet speed at the point of contact with very little effort. There's a lot to learn here for club players who want to generate more power off the forehand wing.
So how does one become good at tennis? This is a question on the mind of many tennis parents and players. Is it only the ‘talented’ players that achieve success? The truth is, talent is largely a myth. All sport development experts have confirmed the 10 year/10,000 hour rule to mastery. There are no short cuts to player development, but just mindlessly hitting balls on the court hour after hour will not get you on the pro tour. Wayne Elderton
Oudin Still Believes, But is a Question Mark
Melanie Oudin continue to confound observers, those who believe that she has top 20 stuff, and those who think that her inspirational run to 2009 US Open quarterfinals last summer was just a flash in the pan. For a player who primarily relies on foot speed, fight, a sizeable forehand and consistent backhand, there is almost no explaining some of her victories, as well as some of her defeats. Matt Cronin
ProStrokes 2.0 – Marin Cilic's Forehand
This 21 year old has been on tour for five years, but he got everyone’s attention at the 2009 US Open when he outplayed Andy Murray in the quarters, losing in four sets in the semis to eventual winner Martin Del Potro. Currently ranked 9th,he may be poised to climb much higher. Marin has notched wins in 2010 over Roddick and Del Potro as well as Nadal in Beijing in 2009. Big hitter, clean strokes, a bit of a kick serve motion, but the young guy hugs the baseline and bangs the ball to the corners, and fearlessly I might add.
TennisOne Writers Store
One of your many new benefits as a TennisOne membership is your ability to purchase selected instructional DVDs at 20% off ($7.50 off each) in our new TennisOne Writers Store (login in first to access members links):
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- "Defeating the Monsters in Your Mind," Ken DeHart Members – Public
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