Quick Tennis Tip – Play to Improve or Play to Win?

Posted by on Aug 17, 2012 in Tennis Strategy, Tennis Tips, Updates | 0 comments

QUICK TIP – Play to Improve or Play to Win?

You have a choice in tennis to play to improve or play to win.
Playing to improve means you go for your shots (no cautiousness)
when the situation presents itself and live with the results. Playing to win means that when the chips are down you turn into a pusher (just getting the ball back) and pray your opponent misses.
This type of player often wins on a lower level, but when the
competition improves his game falls apart.

I coach players to play to improve and let winning come to them.
Adopting this attitude takes mental toughness. You will have to
withstand some losses that you may have won if you had just pushed
the ball back. But in the long run there is no match for the game
that develops and the mental attitude you acquire. Also, pushers have a difficult time switching from pushing to the mental attitude
of going for their shots!

Here is a scenario that occurs often in junior tennis. In the 10-,
12- and 14-year-old juniors level there are many pushers who win.
This sends a message to many parents, coaches and juniors that
pushing is the way to play the game. That mental strategy becomes
the standard for what these kids are taught. Everyone is happy
because they win more. The problem occurs when these players hit
the 16- and 18-year-old level and pushing the ball back no longer
works. Now the pusher has to change to a “go for your shot”
attitude and adapt to a new game. Not easy! Consequently, they lose

Do not get me wrong. When I say “play to improve,” this does not
mean you do not try to win. Of course you try to win, but you do
not sacrifice the quality of game to win. You stay on track with
the correct mental attitude of going for your shots.

I have seen coaches teach a pushing type of tennis to players for
years. Then when these players reach a tougher level of competition
and lose, the coach is mad at them because they would not go for
their shots!

Whether you’re a junior or an adult, you must immediately begin the
journey toward “going for your shots” tennis. Why? Because the
mental attitude needed to stay with this strategy takes months and
years to develop. Even if you think, “If I would have just pushed
the ball back I would have won,” you cannot crack under this
pressure. Stay focused, stay grounded in mental toughness, think
like a champion and you will rise above!


See you on the court,



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