About Us

CAtennis is a passionate discussion for serious tennis players, parents and coaches looking for something different. No talk about technique, no talk about useless theory, no gimmicks; just practical advice from first-hand experience on how to improve your tennis. Kick back, drink the content, bounce ideas, and pitch articles (or friend us on Facebook).

Unless otherwise noted, all articles are authored by the founders of CAtennis.  Enjoy!

« Today Has No Bearing On Tomorrow | Main | What's WRONG with YOU?! »

Why Are you Hitting Yourself? Huh? Why Are you Hitting Yourself?


Why Are you Hitting Yourself? Huh? Why Are you Hitting Yourself?


- if you've grown up with older siblings, the questions above are likely to send shivers down your spine. If only I was bigger, she wouldn't grab my hands and make me slap myself with them.

Let-chords, lines, bad calls (http://parentingaces.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/99-out-is-still-100-in/), wind, sun, cold/hot weather, loud noise, frames, balls rolling on your court from other courts (especially on "big" points), etc., sometimes all combined....at some point, a player will run into some of these "unfairness" factors at critical points in the match. Heck, if you've played long enough I'm sure that you will remember when the opponent framed the ball that ended up clipping the tape and dropping on the line for a winner. You may have actually lost the match because of this "unfairness." Is there a way to win in spite of such luck - good on the opponent's part; bad on your part?!

Well, if you're like me, you will have heard numerous times that tennis is a lot like life. As a matter of fact, all sports are a metaphor for life. For example, if you're a lawyer you can make the best possible arguments - apply the law to the facts as best you can and communicate the argument, in writing or orally to judge/jury - and still lose the case. It happens ALL THE TIME! It happens all the time to the best lawyers! Sometimes, the judge will rule for the exception as opposed to the general rule. Some other times, the jury will simply decide based on sympathy (regardless of instructions). Is that "FAIR"?! If you're a doctor, you can prescribe the best possible treatment and the patient will not respond to it resulting in death. Is THAT fair?! How about getting into a car accident due to no fault of your own and getting sued for damages that you didn't cause?! That's fair, right?! Wait a second, I know: no good person has ever contracted a terminal disease, right?!

Well, the fact is that life is full of unfairness...some people win the lottery; others are better looking; some may be born into wealth; some may get straight A's without studying; some may be naturally bigger/faster/stronger; etc. Unless you're either very young or very dense, you should know this. However, when the same person steps on the court, s/he often forgets this concept (i.e., that unfairness happens) and does not know how to handle an unfair situation that is not favorable to her.

If you're the type of player who's prone to mentally breaking down when things don't go your way and allow matches to slip away, you have three choices: (1) quit ("Bye-bye! Thanks for playing. This sport's too tough for you"); (2) keep doing the same thing and hope that things will magically go your and that all of your opponents will have discovered religious enlighterment (good luck with that); or (3) accept that unfairness happens and prepare your mind to deal with these situations and bounce back. Hopefully, you will have chosen what's behind door #3. 

For example, one way you can mentally prepare to deal with unfairness is by setting up the court to contain certain zones which results in automatic points FOR your practice partner if s/he happens to hit them. They don't have to be in specific locations - they can be anywhere (middle of the court, close the baseline or off-center). The purpose is to practice tempering your mind to unexpected consequences favoring the other side. After all, adversity builds character and it's your character under pressure or unfair situations that counts.

This drill can be performed where only one person plays with the handicap or both players play with the handicap. Another drill is threading a broom-stick (or plastic tube) through the net a playing points. Sometimes, a player will hit the broom-stick/tube and the ball will ricochet for a winner; other times, it will bounce back on your own side. All these outcomes are unfair but they will turn you into a more mentally-tough opponent. It is particularly important, for purposes of this drill, that the slightly weaker player is handicapped - after all, isn't it amazing how, sometimes, the best players have all the luck?! With two even players, both can take turns handicapping themselves.

Another way to toughen yourself up is for one player to grant the a other a couple of "bisque" points. These handicaps can be used on big points (or any points) - where the "hooks" tend to happen. How about playing tennis points with distractions? Ilie Nastase used to practice - when he actually used to practice - with stereo blasting. He said it reminded him of crowd noise. Maybe he just liked the music but he certainly had the advantage when the fans got rowdy at a big match. When was the last time you played a practice matchwith a leaf-blower blaring?

You think that this is crazy or unnecessary? How about this: go talk to someone who's served in the military and has gone through basic training. Ask him/her about his/her uniform or bed-check experience. How many times did s/he have to redo the bed or re-polish his/her boots despite being perfectly in order the first time around? Or, how about the push-ups that he had to do because of someone else's screw-ups? On the one hand, these punishments are intended to build team unity. But they are also intended to teach the soldiers how to stomach unfairness because (1) sometimes bad things happen to good people, and (2) sometimes good people have to follow orders that lead to unfair consequences. So if practicing for unfairness is good enough for the military (and ours is the best), it should certainly be good enough for someone playing with a yellow ball over the net.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>