One Simple Question That Makes You Play Better

May 14

You’re probably sitting in front of the screen (laptop, desktop, tablet) to read this article, and I have a question for you: “Could you be more comfortable?”

Just ask yourself if you could be more comfortable sitting now and see what happens…

In most cases, you will realize that, yes, you could be more comfortable.

As you bring your attention to your body, you become aware of any tension and tightness in your body and your mind/body knows what to do to get rid of those.

You became more comfortable simply by asking yourself one question.

The exact same process can be applied when you’re on the tennis court.

The Main Cause For Tightness: Trying To Do Technique Correctly

As you’re learning technique and hopefully other tennis skills like rhythm, hitting the ball in your ideal contact point, being on balance and so on, you will naturally try to do them as correctly as possible.

We could even say that you try hard to do it right.

working on the volley

Trying hard to improve your technique will always add tightness to your body. Counter that by looking for comfort.

While on one hand that’s great, on the other hand it always adds more tightness to your body.

And whenever there’s tightness, it feels like the body is locked and it stops moving naturally.

We stop the energy flow when we’re tight, and even though we’re theoretically doing things correctly, we cannot move fluidly and cannot execute strokes in a smooth fashion; therefore, the end result of our stroke is not a good shot.

Unfortunately that makes us try even harder, and we actually make things even worse. You end up in this magic spiral of doom from where there is no escape, not to mention how all that affects you emotionally.

It might even lead to total frustration and lack of any progress in that lesson.

Therefore, it’s very important to add the “Could I be more comfortable?” thought to any exercise you’re doing to improve your tennis or even when you’re simply rallying and reinforcing what you’ve already learned.

As soon as you ask yourself that, you’ll bring your attention to your body and become aware of any tightness.

And you’ll just naturally relax as your mind and body know exactly what to do to get rid of tightness.

Comfortable, Loose Or Relaxed?

I like to use the word comfortable because it triggers the right response of my body.

Every word we use triggers something different in our body, so it’s important to test for yourself how the words relaxed, loose and comfortable affect you.

The word relaxed may not be the right one because it makes you lose that alertness and intensity you need on the court to react and move quickly to the incoming ball, but also to recover quickly.

Loose may make you too limp, which again makes you lose that certain amount of tension and alertness that needs to be present while we play tennis.

relaxed intensity

Which word triggers the state where you’re alert, can move quickly and easily and yet not be tight?

So, while this article and video don’t go in-depth about a certain technical element of tennis and you may be deceived by its simplicity, it is in fact one of the most important things to work on in the long-term development of your tennis.

I have personally been trying to be as comfortable as possible for many years while I am on the court, and it has been in my mind ever since I discovered the many benefits of this approach.

Being comfortable while playing improves your balance, it unlocks any tightness you may have while executing strokes and consequently allows you to hit strokes with effortless power.

It also gives you much more control of the ball and brings back feel to your hands as tension always takes feel away.

It’s not a coincidence that I’ve listed “being comfortable” as one of the missing links in your game that you need to have in order to progress to the next level.

Just add this one simple question to every drill and technical correction you’re working on and see how it improves your end result.

Leave a Comment:

(30) comments

Michael May 14, 2015

going to try it later,
Thanks,
Michael

Reply
Dave Ryan May 14, 2015

This is another really insightful, thought-provoking tip from Tomaz. His earlier tips on watching the ball, balance, breathing, weight transfer and now comfort are great “master” tips that apply to all strokes. they are tips that can really accelerate improvement and increase enjoyment right away. I have recently been hitting the best, most consistent ground strokes of my life by using the breathing technique. The only trouble is that with all these cornerstone tips it’s hard to know which one to work on first! (I believe Tomaz recommends doing the breathing first).
Out of all the tennis instruction services to which I subscribe, it’s the ones from Feel Tennis that help the most, are the most intellectually interesting, and that get opened and watched immediately.

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    Tomaz May 14, 2015

    Much appreciated, Ryan. Yes, all these latest post and a few next ones as a part of more advanced tennis tips that one needs to master if you want to get to a higher level of tennis.

    Stroke mechanics are the foundation of tennis but can take you only so far…

    Reply
    Slimane May 14, 2015

    Well said, Dave – I second that. Tomaz’s instruction is top quality and gets my attention every time. Maybe he should consider doing that for a living πŸ™‚

    Reply
    Sezgin May 15, 2015

    Best tennis instructor is Tomaz, 4 Non Blondes! πŸ™‚

    Reply
Stuart May 14, 2015

Tomaz,

Thank you for your excellent and informative instruction

Stuart

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Anne Cribben May 14, 2015

Hi Tomaz:

Thanks for this very important tennis tip..
As I am a somewhat intense player I have great difficulty in attaining the “comfortable” body feeling you describe..
I keep trying to achieve the feeling & when I do it lasts for approximately two or three strokes!
I really envy your so very relaxed stance while hitting the ball..
Maybe it is a personality thing..
Will keep trying ..perhaps trying too much!!

Anne

Reply
    Tomaz May 14, 2015

    It’s a lot of repetition in non-competitive rallies that develops this relaxed way of hitting.

    See if you can stretch your streak of relaxed strokes to 4 at first and then go from there.

    I have another post coming up soon on a very similar way of loosening up your strokes…

    Reply
Gene May 14, 2015

Yes! Love this word! You have influenced me to get myself to be loose and relaxed but it doesn’t always do the same for my students. Comfortable should do the trick. I’ll start using it and let you know how it works out. Your passion and insightfulness is truly appreciated!

Reply
    Tomaz May 14, 2015

    So is your feedback, Gene, much appreciated too!

    Reply
Marcelo May 14, 2015

Thanks Thomaz, these tips are essential.
Besides, who has been playing tennis for many years could prove this.
The level of tension of competition vs training is probably the best example.

In my opinion the complication in this tip is not understanding the concept or limits because the physical condition, the real complication, is to internalize the concept for a long time, that is, build the habit.

If we handle this concept, we can use this advice is not just for tennis !!! We can use it for other life activities.

Thanks again and greetings.

Reply
    Tomaz May 14, 2015

    Good point, Marcelo.

    One thing I’d like to add is that the next step is to try and apply this level of comfort when you play a friendly practice match with a partner.

    We all face our first obstacles there as tension comes back.

    Once we can handle that in practice (fun!) matches, we can try and bring it to real matches…

    Reply
Howard Elliot May 14, 2015

You’re simply a genius.

Stay well,

Howard

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Arthur Quinby May 14, 2015

Like most of your work, you want us to get the most out of whatever tennis state we are in.

I love that!

The hardest part of any of your work for me, is not wanting to try so hard to stay relaxed and Comfortable!

My mind is always trying to help my body, and when I just don’t try, I do better and am more relaxed.

But I’ve been told all my life in sports, “Hey you’re not trying hard enough!” Try harder!!!!!

Off to the court and see if I can be more “comfortable!”

Best,

Q

Reply
    Tomaz May 14, 2015

    Hey Q,

    At tennis “try harder” definitely does not work. I’ll say that again in one of the future videos…

    Reply
Luis Vazquez May 14, 2015

Your tips are always very intersting!!!
thank you Tomaz

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walter elia May 14, 2015

In my years of tennis viewing, listening at different instructors never have I being told of the awareness for staying confortable explained as confortable as you do .
good job Mr Tomaz a great way to make oneself aware of this important condition for improving one”s skill in tennis
good work

Reply
    Tomaz May 27, 2015

    Thanks, Walter. I keep trying to be comfortable every day I am on court, especially at the start of every session.

    Reply
Ken May 14, 2015

Hi Tomaz – hope you are well…

First, just want to say, I really like new site; very clean/uncluttered (like your instruction…!) – really – good job…!

Regarding this lesson (and much like the ‘breathing’ lesson); easy to say, difficult to do (HA…!); but good stuff; one trigger word/idea I use is ‘friendly eyes’; I find if I ask myself do I have ‘friendly eyes’, my face relaxes and I begin to set stage for ‘focusing’ with intensity and looseness/comfort (happier too…!).

As we know, thinking too much… kind be the problem. So ‘friendly eyes’ is kind of simple trigger.

Thank you, as always, you groovy character…!

Reply
    Tomaz May 15, 2015

    Thank so much for sharing another very useful trigger – friendly eyes.

    You’re right, tension affects the face too and if we relax the face, the body follows.

    Reply
Richard May 15, 2015

This is just what the Buddhists say about sitting meditation too Tomaz, become aware of the tension in the body when sitting, be aware of breathing and stress points in the body,, and try to dissolve it with relaxed attentive awareness…………………great advice for active situations and activities such as tennis as welll. All that time in Singapore is paying off!

Richard πŸ™‚

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    Tomaz May 15, 2015

    And tennis for me is meditating as I am moving, I guess even better for staying healthy! πŸ˜‰

    Reply
Joanna May 15, 2015

Your “simple” tips have gone far to improve my game. I look forward to incorporating this one next time I’m on court. πŸ™‚

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Frank May 22, 2015

Excellent “tip” which I will be using this afternoon…..I plan to show your videos/tips to my 12 year-old daughter (5’6″), especially this one today as she does tense up quite a bit….your website has been by far my favorite in terms of useful, insightful tips….and the name “feeltennis” is brilliant!

P.S. You demonstrated a particular tool to develop muscle memory re: the serve…do you sell those?

Reply
    Tomaz May 22, 2015

    Thanks, Frank. If for the serve tool you mean the Serve Master, I don’t sell them but use it all the time. Just Google it…

    Reply
Simon Payne July 15, 2015

Thank you Tomaz.

This, like all of your other tips, is invaluable. The idea of technically good strokes not producing the most effective tennis shots is important. THE concept of letting go, being comfortable and generating effortless power is not emphasised by many coaches I have had lessons from. Being calm in the mind, enjoying your tennis and not being tied by nervousness or overly concerned by missing means many of us never play to our full capability. Tomaz emphasises the value of being calm, swinging smoothly and coaxing natural movements out to lead to the best ball striking we can achieve. His approach is different but highly recommended. I would happily pay for a website collating your great tips and advice. I have benefitted from Your advice and I know many others would as well.
Please Keep up these exceptional lessons,

Simon

Reply
    Tomaz July 15, 2015

    Thanks a lot, Simon. More videos on the way and eventually some paid courses too, I just need to find some time to record them since I am on court all the time this summer. But at least I’ll have tons of real life improvements to show from players like yourself…

    Reply
Osamu June 25, 2016

Thanks for a good article,Tomaz.
This article bring me unexpected experience.

I am not good at doing smash in tennis.
I tried to hit smash with being comfortable the other day,and it works.
My form became better and my shot had a good pace.

I noticed this way can apply my daily life,such as washing dish and my face,walking.
I used to splash water out of washstand ,when I wash my face every morning.
I can control water when I am comfortable.

I work on coordination training these days,so I will report you this autumn.
See you later.

Reply
    Osamu February 28, 2017

    Hi Tomaz,

    My swing was jerky, not smooth and I wanted to fix my swing.

    Today I remembered your tip and then I tried looking to more comfortable when I played tennis by myself.

    It really works, my swings have become smooth and I have got control and pace.

    As you said, the word comfortable is amazing, magical, and is better than relax or loose. I have tested both many times.

    The result of coordination training I work is so,so. That makes me having endurance and agility and Speed of reaction.

    Thanks for good tips. You are really great tennis guru, Tomaz.

    Reply
      Tomaz March 1, 2017

      Great to hear, Osamu!

      I ask the players whether they can be more comfortable every day when I coach them because whenever we think about something we inevitably tense up a bit.

      And by looking to be more comfortable we can still work on that key thing and not be blocked by tension which causes lots of inconsistent shots.

      Reply
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