Grass Court Tennis

Grass tennis court at Wimbledon

A Game of Luck, Resilience and Finesse

If you’ve been playing tennis for a while, you can appreciate the difference between different surfaces. The beauty about grass court tennis is that the lawn is catchy to the eyes, it feels good to walk on and provides you with a hint of nature at your fingertips. To get good at playing on grass, you need to first become one with the court and let it play for you. This involves appreciating the uniqueness of how grass plays; accepting the circumstances while willing to learn how to maneuver, deliver and conquer.

It’s a game of luck: well it kind of is! You can be down 4-1 in the first set and find yourself in a tight tiebreaker 25 minutes later, only to win the set and cruise in the second. How do you create this luck? You believe and you enjoy the surface; you learn to dance. And the more you want to dance, the luckier you get. I know, this is still a work in progress.

Tennis racquet with tennis ball on grass court

Grass Court Tennis: The Resilience Factor

It’s a game of resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, in this case not feeling the ball, not identifying with your strategy and being mentally distracted. Grass can help you change when experiencing any of those difficulties; it provides you with longer points that help you build a groove and feel; in other words, the surface buys you some time. In return, you develop a capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; this is resilience.

And lastly, it’s a game of finesse: doing something in a subtle and delicate manner, in this case introducing backhand and forehead slices from the baseline and on returns of serve; introducing chip and charges and following the ball in to the net more often; serving and volleying at least 1-2x per game; throwing in several drop shots to keep them honest while testing their physical stamina; and most importantly, loving the grass and believing that your matches will turn into your favor. This is grass court tennis.

Have you played grass yet?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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US Open Tennis

Time lapse photo of green tennis ball flying in air

Mental Toughness In Tennis Matches

Tennis is a unique sport in that you are stepping onto the battlefield by yourself; there are no teammates to clean up after you. Mental toughness makes up about 75% of a successful player’s arsenal; 20% is their physicality and 5% is luck. You may think that the bigger or faster you are, the more advantage you have.

This is true up to a certain level; in juniors, physicality can help score a lot of Ws. But once a player reaches the pros, it becomes obvious that many of the top-ranked players have an impressive physicality; their success comes down to their mental strength. Talent is already understood; a player wouldn’t be a top-ranked professional if he or she did not have talent.

Coaching and strategy are very important as well, but all top-ranked players have great coaches and well-defined strategies. And luck is non-reliable; it comes and goes as it wishes. So one component remains and dominates consistently: mental toughness.

Tennis is a very psychological sport. On any given day, any great tennis player can lose to another player who is considered a weaker opponent. The psychology of the game begins prior to even stepping onto the court:

  • You start to analyze your opponent
  • You become more in touch with your body (i.e.: cramps, pain, stiffness)
  • You analyze your game and if anything is bothering you about it
  • You start to deal with any emotional issues or mental concerns
  • You start to feel the nerves, pressure and anxiety

The psychological aspect of the game continues onto the court:

  • You analyze your opponent’s current level of play
  • You analyze which strategy is best for the current match
  • You have to properly handle frustration and not let it bring you down
  • You have to compensate with different strokes if one is letting you down
  • You have to come up with bigger shots if your player is on fire
  • You have to handle your nerves
  • You have to block out the annoying fans who are rooting for your opponent
  • You have to block out any personal issues or distractions which have followed you onto the court
  • And you have to maintain consistent mental toughness until you capture the W

You see, at a certain level, most players have an impressive physicality: they are over 6’1″, have a lot of strength, have great flexibility, are very quick and move very well and have great endurance and stamina. Slightly improving physicality over the average is not going to make a decent player a consistent champion.

Unfortunately, height is playing a bigger role in sports these days, especially in tennis. A taller stature allows one the opportunity to develop a more powerful and effective serve. Especially in the men’s game, an effective serve is almost necessary to consistently win these days. A taller stature is also useful for reach at the baseline and at the net; more reach helps you to get to the balls easier.

But what makes a tennis player great is discipline, hard work and mental toughness. Tennis is like a chess match, more or less: the size of the player is irrelevant but the mental component is everything. Just watch the United States Tennis Open in Flushing, New York to get an understanding of what is required to be a great tennis player!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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