|HERE'S A DRILL TO HELP DEAL WITH STRESS, CREATE BETTER|
SHOT SELECTION & IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS... ALL AT THE SAME TIME
Many players suffer from high levels of stress when competing. Overcoming the stress and performing to your true potential is sometimes the single most difficult task many players face.
It is a known fact that avoidance of stress is one of our strongest instincts. Given enough time stress can kill us.
I have noticed on many occassions players willing to endure the continual frustration of missing easy shots to avoid the stress of playing one more ball. They will actually sabotage the point to avoid playing another ball. Do they admit this to themselves, never! This is all going on at a subconscious level and can be extremely frustrating for player's. Here's something that will also surprise you, it happenes at all levels, even at with professional players.
One example of stress avoidance would be a player who is not comfortable at net repeatably missing the approach shot to avoid having to volley the next ball. From the perpspective of someone watching from outside the court it looks like the player has poor technique on their approach shots, but actually it's all about their lack of confidence in their volley!
Some player's will attempt an impossible passing shot rather than defend the point with a lob or put the ball back into court and give the opponent one more shot to play. This is avoiding stress.
Avoidance of stressful situations is a very strong trait within us.
To overcome the demands of competitive stress I help player's by playing a game called “The No-Winner Game”.
To play the No-Winner Game you and your practice partner serve and return as in a normal point, however the goal for each player is to move the ball around and force your practise opponent into errors. Neither player is allowed to hit winners. If you are the player applying pressure in the point, instead of taking pot shots to win points you are now forced to target your opponent’s fitness levels and their ability to defend intelligently.
As the player defending in the rally, your job is to keep getting balls back into safe places. For example if you are under pressure in a rally and return the next shot half-court your opponent will continue to pressure you on the next ball. However if you can return the ball deep crosscourt you are back in the point having neutralized your opponent’s advantage in the rally.
In time you start to become more composed, realising that if you can defend the point intelligently you can survive the rally and perhaps turn defense into offense. This is where your composure and shot selection improves.
The time spent in each rally increases dramatically so fitness levels also improve.
By focusing less on ball speed as your means of winning the point you become more comfortable in your ability to exert pressure during the rally and also more confident in your defence by learning to move the ball around safely and intelligently – the same traits displayed by all successful players.