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SOME WAYS YOU CAN WORK OUT OF A TENNIS SLUMP

Does the following scenario sound familiar?

Each week you play singles three times against different players. You're evenly matched against all three and usually win 50 percent or more of the matches. Suddenly, you start losing match after match. Needless to say, you're frustrated and very upset over what is happening.

Let's face it. You could be experiencing what all tennis players, even the pros, experience at one time or another. You could be experiencing the dreaded Tennis Slump. What are you going to do about it?

First, I would write down all of the strokes and strategies that seemed to work against each of the three players. Then, I would write down what strokes and strategies don't seem to be working against them any more. Finally, I would write down what strokes and strategies these players seem to be using that are causing you difficulties that didn't seem to be so prevalent previously.

After analyzing your list, carefully look at the following questions:

Are you playing other matches during the week in addition to your regular three? Have you been playing with a slight injury? Have you been having personal or business problems that could affect your concentration or play? Have you made an equipment change recently? Is your game better suited for hard cement courts or slower clay and Har-Tru courts? Have you noticed that one or more of your opponents has dramatically improved over the last few times you played?

Any of those factors could be responsible for your slump.

If you have been playing more than three times a week, you may be simply "burned out." Playing four or five times a week puts a great amount of stress on your body and could greatly affect your concentration, court movement, and stroking ability.

For some reason, when players aren't performing as well as they had previously, they feel that playing more will help their game.

This is not true. Increasing your play to four or five times a week when you're in a slump will only cause you more frustration as you're putting a great amount of stress on your body, both mentally and physically. Revert to playing three times a week and you should return to your former success rate. Even better, take three or four days off before you return to play to recharge your batteries.

Playing with an injury, regardless of how minor it is, isn't smart. You could do further damage, and you will notice that your play is greatly affected. I still can't figure out why people feel they can play through an injury instead of resting until it heals. Take some time off until you're feeling better.

Playing on days when you have pressing problems, either personal or business, can greatly affect your play. Many experts feel physical exercise greatly helps after a stressful day.

I agree. However, I feel you would be wise not to play tennis on these stressful days, if possible. I have found that it is better to work out at the gym or local health clubs with some form of aerobic exercise. You don't have to worry about playing tennis, while the day's problems are circulating through your head.

If you have been playing with a new racket against your opponents you must realize that you have to get acclimated to the racket's swing or feel. If you really like the way the racket plays, you should see some of your former results return after playing with the new equipment three or four times.

Is your game better suited for hard courts or clay courts? Playing on a surface that is more beneficial to your type of game could ensure continued good results.

Sometimes your tennis slump may have nothing to do with your own game. It's possible that the your opponent has been taking lessons and has greatly improved. Therefore, to counteract his improved game, you would be wise to take lessons to improve your own weaknesses.
e-mail: thegreatgar@cs.com