Creating a program that concentrates on the tactical side of tennis is not easy because there are so many different perceptions of the game. Most players differ in their ways of thinking on court so what is right and what is wrong ? Good question.
I didn't play any tournaments last season, I chose to watch instead and that let me tell you was difficult. I love playing tennis tournaments as I find that the intensity of competition brings out the best in most players and I find that alone is a tough challenge. Playing against guys who bring their A game for the day is a fantastic way to improve your standard as you must lift from your practice form or rather your practice thinking.
I also firmly believe that coaches should play competition to keep the thought process active. It's all very well to keep pointing the finger and directing traffic however by playing it reinforces what you teach.
Some players thrive on competition, others struggle to match their red hot practice form of the week leading up to the tournament, that's a mind issue no doubt at all.
I observed quite a number of things in those tournaments that perhaps aren't quite taken into account as much when I am playing so I found it rather educational to simply be a spectator. I had the idea of the tactical program quite some time ago but I wanted to gather some fresh ideas and not just take the Pro matches as examples. I needed to see first hand just where local tournament matches were won and lost, the latter it seemed was the over riding factor in just about all of them.
Three years ago I played a Perth Over 40's competition against some talented and experienced players, some who had been top ranked players as juniors, some who had travelled a long way to taste the competition side of the game. All could play the game well, some extremely well but all could strike a ball with ease and their thought process was at times brilliant to watch and play against.
In my last match I played a guy from South Africa and in the warm up he quite frankly scared the hell out of me as he hit the ball with a lot of pace and his technique was solid.
He simply lacked the finishing polish. Now that's by no means saying he was stupid but he just lacked a way to close out certain situations even though he set them up well.
At the conclusion of our match he said to me 'How did you see our match' ? I was honest with him and replied 'I didn't win it, you lost it'. He agreed with me and we talked about the match in detail as it seemed to be something that had plagued his tennis since he was a kid. A typical tennis story.
That was the biggest factor that I witnessed in this Region over the last season of tennis tournaments, most matches were not won, they were in fact lost. It all came down to shot selection which started in the thought process before the ball was even hit. It wasn't really much different from players who could hit the ball well to players who technically were not as strong, it simply was a case of bad shot selection and errors that could have been avoided.
It is not a requirement to 'win' a game of tennis, it is more a requirement to 'not lose'.
I have used some different methods over the past season with students of all ages to attempt a change in thinking and look at alternate ways of playing. There are ways to stop losing tennis matches, it starts with 'thinking like a winner'........