July 30, 2009

Quick Tennis Fix: Fix Your Toss!

Want to improve your toss? As you start the toss, make sure you're holding the ball in your fingertips, not in the palm of your hand. This one tiny thing means the difference between a ball that goes up smoothly in a determinable line (wherever you want it - more to the left, more to the right, out front, over your head) and a ball that is spinning and out of control (Yikes!).

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

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

July 24, 2009

"The Best Tennis of Your Life"

You see it all the time: Players choke. They don’t focus. They throw in the towel. They fail to close out the game, set and match. Tennis is such a mental game!

But how much time do you put into strengthening the mental aspect of your tennis game? Probably not much. Or, if you’re like me, it’s more like none at all.

Well, that is about to change for me because I just finished reading The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance by Jeff Greenwald. Here are 50 ways to handle almost any psychological problem you come up against on the court. Problems with your partner? Turn to Chapter 29 – “Develop Positive Chemistry With Your Doubles Partner.” Intimidated by better players? Read through Chapter 9 – “Focus on Your Game, Not Your Opponent’s Ranking.” Pissed off at cheaters? Look over Chapter 33 – “Keep Your Cool When the Bad Line Call Happens.”

Each chapter is short and sweet, just a page or two, and gives you concrete ways to deal with your mental problems on the court. For example, in Chapter 19, “Establish Your Presence Before Serving,” Greenwald talks about the problems we all have as we step up to the baseline and prepare to serve: “Whether it’s impatience to get the next point started, frustration with the serve in general, anxiety about double-faulting, or just plain old habit, the actions in which players engage in the time prior to serving is perhaps the most widely abused time in the game.” Greenwald, p. 54. As he goes on to point out, most of us have no pre-serve routine and simply hope to get that serve over with. Greenwald then provides a simple routine to improve your serve:
First, take a deep breath as you walk to the line to establish your presence. This is brief but deliberate. Second, create a quick visual image in your mind of the ball traveling toward your target. Make sure you are decisive with your placement of the serve. No second-guessing. This is critical. Third, check the tension in your shoulders and arm. Keep a loose arm! This routine is followed by you bouncing the ball a set number of times (how many is up to you) and then serving. Keep this routine consistent and practice it regularly so it’s automatic.
Greenwald, p. 55. How easy is that? Breathing, visualization and getting loose – all the elements that will undoubtedly help you get off a good serve.

The Best Tennis of Your Life is a book that you can easily keep in your tennis bag and turn to as you’re waiting to go on court for a quick boost of confidence and insight. That’s where I’ll be keeping my copy.

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

July 21, 2009

Quick Tennis Fix: Cut Your Caffeine!

Do you start the morning with coffee and then transition to your favorite caffeinated soda? Are you doing this even though its blistering hot outside by the time your tennis match starts? Bad idea! Caffeine is a diuretic and not only will not hydrate you, it will actually increase the likelihood of you becoming dehydrated. Acceptable things to drink during a match are water, fitness and flavored waters, and sports beverages. Fruit juices and decaffeinated sodas are a distant second and caffeinated beverages do not even count towards fluid intake. The way I look at it is - I have enough issues when I'm playing tennis. I don't need to add to my problems by dehydrating myself and drinking caffeine!

For more tips on what to drink during a match, click on the following post: "Drink! Drink! Drink!"

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

July 17, 2009

More Great Tennis One-Liners!

I recently posted some of the great "tennis one-liners" - those wonderful tennis tips that are distilled down into one sentence. Sometimes they're genius, sometimes they're funny, sometimes you wonder just who comes up with these things. Here are a few more great tennis one-liners to apply to your game. Send me your great tennis one-liners so I can include them on Tennis Fixation!
  • When in doubt, call it out.
  • When in doubt, call it in (click on this post to see why this is my preferred one-liner: When In Doubt, Call It . . . In).
  • Down the middle solves the riddle.
  • Watch the ball, not your opponent.
  • Keep your tossing arm up as long as possible.
  • Keep your head still.
And, the doubles one-liner I always find useful:
  • I think that was your ball.
You can see more great tennis one-liners by clicking on this post: Great Tennis One-Liners!

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

July 14, 2009

Tennis Thoughts: Salvador Dali On Tennis

“Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.” - Salvador Dali

OK, so Salvador Dali probably wasn't thinking about tennis when he said this. Most likely, he was speaking about artists and their struggle to attain perfection in their work. But his words are true for us working on our tennis too. I would say they apply even more to the tennis player than to the artist. I mean, really - art is so subjective. Who knows what is really good and perfect and true in art? But a down-the-line shot? Either its perfectly in or . . . its out.

So I say - adopt the Salvador Dali philosophy in your tennis. Forget about attaining tennis perfection because you're never going to get there. Instead, play as well as YOU can. Yes, you want to improve and attain your (reasonable) tennis goals. But forget about hitting the "perfect" shot and enjoy your own well-hit shot.

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

July 10, 2009

Quick Tennis Fix: Time to Restring!

How often should you restring your racquet? The rule of thumb is you should restring your racquet as many times per year as you play per week. So if you play about three times a week, you should restring about three times per year. You can also take a look at your strings and see just how worn and fuzzy they're getting. If they look like they're about to break, it's probably a good idea to restring. You'll love how much better you hit the ball with a newly strung racquet.

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

July 7, 2009

How to Make Centre Court at Wimbledon - Be a Blonde Babe!

So just when I think I've said all I have to say about this year's Wimbledon, this morning I start reading about the latest news to come from the premiere Slam. How do you get a Centre Court assignment if you're a woman? Not by being a top-ranked incredible tennis player. But by being a good looking tennis babe. A tall, white, blonde, good-looking (in the eyes of the All England Club) tennis babe. Here's a great post on this issue, which says it much better than I can. I'm sad and disappointed.

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

July 5, 2009

Wimbledon Wrap-Up

The Championships - Wimbledon 2009 Day Thirteen
I'm still trying to recover from Andy Roddick's loss to Roger Federer. But what a way to lose! An epic battle that we followed on my Blackberry as we drove from the Grand Tetons to Salt Lake City. We were traveling up and down mountains and in and out of canyons so it was hard to keep consistently updated. We went straight from Roddick losing the 3rd to him winning the 4th to a tie in the 5th at 9 all! Somewhere in Idaho, we learned he had lost that 5th set and I just couldn't have felt sadder.

But I do love Federer and am happy to see him when his 15th Slam.

Well, the U.S. Open is right around the corner and hopefully, Roddick will have another incredible Slam showing. And this time I plan to be parked right in front of my TV to witness the whole thing and not in some crazy middle-of-nowhere-no-consistent-reception-on-my-Blackberry part of the country.

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

We're in Grand Teton National Park for the 4th of July and - sorry, kids - no fireworks allowed! But the natural beauty is so overwhelming, I don't think we miss them much. So instead of bombs bursting in air, here's a fantastic picture of Mt. Moran (I hope) taken by my incredible husband who just keeps taking these kind of wonderful pictures, and saving our family memories, no matter how much we all complain. And this is just one of a number of typical pictures - these views are everywhere!

Tennis-wise (yes, I'm keeping up), Serena wins women's singles and then wins women's doubles with Venus - all in the same day and just like she did at the Australian Open (click HERE for more on this). This seems incredibly newsworthy to me but nobody seems to notice. I think everyone is already focusing on the Federer-Roddick battle tomorrow.

Happy 4th of July!

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

July 3, 2009

Tennis Destination: Jackson, Wyoming

Vacationing in the Jackson Hole area and while hiking in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone is great, we're still playing tennis. How do you keep your eye on the ball with this view?

Andy Roddick takes the first set off Roger Federer in the Wimbledon finals??!!! They're in the 3rd now and I won't know the outcome until tonight. Come on Andy!

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved