I’m sure we have all been there, at one point, at a loss for tennis. That moment in you game, that moment where you have no idea what you are doing. That moment where your forehand could not hit the broad side of Mt. Everest; or where your backhand feels so off that you can’t seem to get the racquet to meet the ball. At this point, you are probably better off serving underhand.
All of this is extremely infuriating, that feeling of being lost in the middle of the woods and nowhere to turn. What can you do? Is there anything you can do to turn your game around in an instant? Without having to review some sort of lesson? Your coach is not there and you have your opponent on the other side of the net laughing his or hers ass off, waiting for you to continue your ride on the downward spiral. I’m pretty sure that ranks high on the worst feeling during competition.
There are plenty of options to get your tennis game back to planet earth; you can do the easiest thing, pack your tennis racquets and go home…like a coward. You could also just stick it out and hope that your opponent has the same problem you are suffering, but much worse. There is also the option to try to hit better, but there is no fun in actually trying. Or you can do, my personal favorite, go for broke.
Yep, go for broke, you’ve got nothing to lose really. You might already be behind love and four, or even five; so instead of dreading the next point, do this: HIT THE BALL AS HARD AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. Seriously, hit it as hard as you possibly can, send that fuzzy yellow ball over that stupid net as if your life depended on it. You might actually make it, or you may not; either way it does not matter. You just might shake the dumb right out of your system, you might find that you hit freely enough that you made good contact. You might even surprise yourself and end up hitting a winner that you never thought possible at that moment.
It’s even better when you are serving, you are in control of the beginning of the point, you get to rip that ball a new one. Serve it as hard as you can, chances are, it will go out but when it does go in, wowzers! Something in you is changing, you stop caring so much about being set and ready to hit the ball perfectly. You have stopped thinking about all that stuff that your coaches and instructors have been feeding you all this time. By not caring if it goes in, you find that you are suddenly playing better. No kidding, right?
Here are a few perfect examples of going for broke and just ripping on the ball:
As you can see, Novak Djokovic down a few match points against Roger Federer, just rips on the ball. If you look closely you can see just how loosely Novak swings at the ball, he’s not in perfect form, he’s not taking his racquet back or anything, he’s just letting it all go and going for broke.
I’ll tell you my own experience, the last two times I played matches, I started off just fine, taking an early break but only finding myself making errors left and right. I was serving love fourty, nothing was going right, I mean absolutely nothing was going my way. There was something in me that compelled me to just stop trying. It was then, when I stopped trying, that I served up four massive aces. I was able to pull the game which lead me to take the set, and eventually the match.
In the three points prior to letting go, I found how exhausting it was to actually try to hit the ball like I have been taught. When I let go, I felt liberated and eventually all the things I have learned over the years naturally came back to me and allowed me to play my near best tennis.
So, the next time you are in a match and you start to feel the wheels come off, just let go and go for broke…you just might be surprised what you can come up with!