July 27, 2009

Just One Thing

Sometimes, doing everything correctly in tennis can be overwhelming. You just can't think of every possible thing you are supposed to be doing AND actually do it, all at the same time.

Many of us have a tendency to overthink things when playing. In fact, I think I might be guilty of this (how else could this blog survive)? Here is a typical example of me analyzing my serve:

Let's say I want to hit a good serve during a match. What do I need to do to hit a good serve?
  1. Have a proper toss
  2. Use the right grip on my racquet
  3. Go through the appropriate arm motion with my racquet
  4. Hit the ball with the correct spin
  5. Hit the ball to the right spot
  6. Follow-through
That's 6 things I need to do just to hit a good serve. And as I look at that list, I can think of a few more things that could easily be on there (what about wrist snap? keeping my head up?). Is there any chance that I will think of all of those things each and every time I serve in a match? Probably not.

So instead of trying to think of all of those things on each serve, and driving myself insane at the same time, I try to think of just one thing. While it might be a different "one thing" depending on how the match is going or what I feel like that day, usually I try to concentrate on my toss for each serve. I pick my toss because I know that's the beginning of the entire serve and if I don't get that right, nothing good will follow. And, thinking about my toss ultimately coaxes me into thinking about all of the other aspects of my serve.

Then I have faith that, at some point, even my completely undeveloped and unreliable reflexes are going to kick in and do the right thing enough times so that I play as if I look like I've at least heard of the game of tennis and hit a few serves.

So instead of overthinking your next match and trying to remember all of the things you are supposed to do, try having just one thing that you will focus on and try to accomplish. Maybe its your toss. Maybe its coming in to the net more often. Maybe its working on your shot placement. Just pick one thing to work on so that even if the match doesn't go your way that day, you can feel like you have worked hard and accomplished something.

By the way, just to let you know I am no lightweight in the "overthinking it" department, here are all the things I have to do for a good toss:
  1. Hold the ball in my fingertips
  2. Lower my tossing arm the right amount
  3. Lift my tossing arm correctly
  4. Keep my tossing arm relatively straight throughout this motion
  5. Don't throw the ball up but release it correctly so it is not spinning (much) on the toss
  6. Toss the ball to the appropriate height
  7. Keep my tossing arm up as long as possible
  8. Keep my chin up as long as possible
  9. Place the toss correctly - out in front, overhead, more to the right, more to the left
  10. Allow the ball to drop to the correct spot before hitting it
So now I have 10 THINGS to think about and do to get a good toss! AAAGGGHHH!

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

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