Wednesday, January 2, 2019

HOW MANY CHANCES DO YOU NEED?




I WOULD HAVE A VERY GOOD CHANCE OF BEATING ROGER FEDERER… if I was given multiple chances to correct and replay any shots I didn’t like.

Here’s an example. If I was given multiple attempts at all first serves and was able to select the one serve that I liked the most amongst my many attempts, my service game against Roger Federer would probably be good enough to hold my own.

Expand that concept to every shot I play and allow me to (1) Prepare for his shot with much better preparation (I now know where it’s going and the speed and the angle of the ball because I have already seen it) (2) Make correct decisions on where and how I want to play the shots, and (3) Technically perform the shot perfectly. With multiple chances I have a very good opportunity to beat Federer.

Now you are saying “but nobody has the luxury of taking shots again” and you would be correct. But let’s look at why this “2nd Chance” scenario is important to understand for both Coaches and players.

When Federer plays a match he almost never needs a “2nd Chance”. His game and the games of the other top players are almost 100% correct most of the time in terms of their decision making and the their execution of the shot. 

And this is where every player trying to take their game to a higher level can learn from this “2nd Chance” concept. 

You may already have the technique and strategic thinking to be able to play amazing tennis and to be ranked well above your present position in the National or ITF rankings. But the speed at which your brain processes information during a match only allows you to operate at 50% of your optimum ability. The other 50%, which would give you massively better results, is absent because YOU DON'T THINK FAST ENOUGH OR CLEAR ENOUGH!

I see this all the time when working with developing players. These young players, if given multiple opportunities to correct and improve their shots or decisions would perform overall MUCH better.

So what are the lessons to be learnt from the “2nd Chance” concept?

ALL MISTAKES IN A MATCH ARE ULTIMATELY MENTAL MISTAKES


The top players think faster, sending their awareness to the key elements that make each specific shot work best. The lesson to take away from the “2nd Chance” scenario is that you as a player must train to think faster and more accurately in order to play at your optimum level, a level which is already present inside you.

Training the brain to think faster, like most things in tennis, should happen on the practice court. 

You'll need to break your practice into two mindsets. The first mindset is "The decision you make" in the various situations during the points and the second mindset is "The technique you employ" for each individual shot. 

It's not necessary to analyse every shot you play, just the times you make an error. By working together, both player and coach can decide which was the culprit, the decision or the stroke. The player must work very hard to mentally retain the feed back from mistakes during these practice points and try to perform the particular situation better each time. 

Here's an example... 

the player has made a mistake on a running forehand. The error could be based on poor shot selection. Instead of playing the shot down the line he/she should have played the higher percentage shot, cross court.  

But let's imagine the error is a technical one. The player is not giving the ball enough spin to keep it in. The passing shot is going over the baseline without enough arc. By making a few technical adjustments the shot begins to go in. 

In both examples, over a period of time the player is practicing each day with the goal of making quicker and more accurate decisions. He/she is also learning to send their focus to two of the most important aspects of playing matches well, decision making and technique. 

Comment below... What do you do, either as a player or coach, to optimize the full potential of your game?