#1 Thing In Tennis You Must Never Forget: Intention

Jul 15

With so much emphasis on tennis technique and important skills like watching the ball, staying on balance, hitting at the right contact point and so on, it’s hard to know what the most important factor is in order to play well.

And this factor that I rarely see mentioned anywhere when it comes to tennis instruction is something that most likely you don’t do well.

What I am talking about is intention.

In this case, “intention” refers to the decision you make about what you want to do with the ball. It is the most important part of tennis, and proper intention increases your chances of hitting the ball in the court.

The Purpose Of Better Tennis Technique

When I work with tennis players and they miss a shot, my first question is always whether they knew exactly what they wanted.

I can see that they’re checking in their mind what technical mistake may have caused their error, but technique is rarely the cause of a missed shot.

You may ask then: why are we learning better technique?

The main two reasons for improving your technique are:

  • to help you hit the ball more efficiently, meaning hit it faster with less effort, and
  • to give you better ways of controlling the ball.

Keep in mind that having better ways to control the ball does not necessarily mean that you will apply these approaches on autopilot.

If, for example, you learn to spin the ball, that doesn’t mean you’ll now play more balls over the net.

The technique for spinning the ball simply gives you the ability to spin the ball. But, in order to hit the ball over the net deeply and accurately, you’ll need to judge each ball very quickly.

You have only a split second to decide how much spin you’ll apply, how fast you’ll hit the ball, how high above the net you’ll aim and in which direction you plan to hit it.

That’s a lot of variables that need to be in the right place, and it is these variables that eventually make the ball go in the court.

In other words, you can hit a technically perfect forehand stroke with exactly the right amount of topspin right into the net because you weren’t really aiming high enough – in fact, many times players don’t have any idea about the height of their strokes when they hit the ball.

They keep thinking about technical elements of the stroke, wrongly thinking that correct technique hits the ball in the court.

It doesn’t. It simply enables your body to swing the racquet more efficiently and possibly enables you to control the ball more easily – but you still need to control it!

improved forehand technique

Better stroke technique doesn’t put the ball in the court by itself. YOU must do that.

The best analogy I can give you is that improving your technique is like boosting up your car’s performance.

You can upgrade your engine and change the tires for a better grip, but that doesn’t mean the car will automatically drive better by itself.

The driver will, in fact, have to be even better in order to be able to control a more powerful car and keep it on the road!

It is the driver’s intention and his quick and early decisions that keep the car in the lane – not the car’s better specifications.

And what I see often with tennis players is their only concern with how to improve the car’s performance (meaning their technique) but not their driving performance (meaning their ability to decide correctly and early enough on what do to with each ball).

What baffles them later on is when they lose to someone with a “weaker car”, but who obviously was a better “driver”.

The Clarity Of Intention

In order to hit the ball in the court, we need to know:

  • direction,
  • speed,
  • spin,
  • height, and
  • depth (which is a combination of speed, spin and height).

But instead of thinking of 5 variables as the ball is approaching us, we can simply imagine one thing, which is a trajectory into a certain target area.

Once we have a clear trajectory of the ball flight in our mind, our body will start to align and adjust its position and the swing of the racquet in order to find the most efficient way of achieving what we want.

clear intention in tennis

Having a clear intention means that you can see the complete trajectory of the ball before you hit it.

Here’s how you work on a clear intention in easy conditions first:

  • Set up two cones or piles of balls in the left and right half of the court, just over the service line.
  • Prepare to drop feed to yourself – but, before you do, imagine clearly the ball flight/trajectory from your contact point into one of the targets.
  • Once you very clearly see the trajectory in your mind’s eye, execute the shot.
  • Switch the target and repeat the process.
  • Do that for 10-15 strokes so that you realize how clearly you are able to visualize the trajectory of the ball and whether that actually helps you to be more accurate.

Now that you’re aware how clearly you are able to imagine the ball’s flight, meaning how clear your intention before the shot can be, attempt to create such clear intention while you’re rallying with a partner.

See if you are able to “see” the trajectory of the ball in your mind before you hit it, even though you now have only a good second of time to make your intention very clear.

intention drill

Are you able to “see” the ball’s flight in your mind in a live ball exchange?

If you are not able to see the ball flight in your mind before the shot in such clear detail, you need to work on this part of the game.

The ball must be “told” where and how to go, and you do that through intention and not through technique.

Technique is way too “rough” to be able to control the ball accurately.

We do that through feel, meaning through minute changes of the racquet’s angle and its path at contact, which are all a consequence of our intention.

We cannot consciously control and change a degree of the racquet’s head angle or change a few degrees of the racquet’s swing path, but our subconscious can!

What we – meaning our conscious mind – need to do is to create a clear intention of what we want, and then allow the subconscious to adjust the swing in order to achieve what we want.

Making An Early Intention

You must form your intention, or what you want to do with the ball, as early as possible.

That’s because, once you make your decision on how you want to play the ball, your body needs time to align properly for the ball and possibly adjust the swing of your stroke.

If you don’t give your body enough time, it won’t complete all the “preparations”, and you’ll most likely miss.

Inexperienced coaches and players will see the consequence of that miss as some improvisation of technique; therefore, they will keep correcting the technique.

That, of course, won’t work because the cause of the mistake lies in a late decision.

The best way to realize how early or late you are making your decision is to play a simple triangle game where one player covers only one half of the court while the other one covers the whole court.

decision tennis drill

Call out “cross” or “down” as soon as you decide.

The player covering only one half of the court calls out his decision (cross or down) as soon as he makes it. His goal is to outplay his opponent.

The player on the other side, of course, has to play back to only that one half of the court.

You can start in a non-competitive situation but can eventually transition to point play, for example playing a tie-break to 7 with a point starting from a hand feed.

During this game, you will realize when you make your decision and most likely see that you are making it after the ball has bounced.

If that is the case, it’s too late for your body to properly align for the shot and also for your mind to really clearly “program” the trajectory before you hit the ball.

That will then be the main cause for a poor shot, but the only visible parts you’ll see are:

  • the improvisation of technique (seemingly incorrect technique),
  • poor footwork, or
  • a late contact point.

Again, realize that your mind and body are doing their best to handle the late decision and that it’s not their fault that they cannot execute the stroke correctly. Instead, the late decision is the cause of all problems.

What you can see in the clips above is that, at first, players that are slightly less skilled also make late decisions, whereas my friend Urban and I, who play at a slightly higher level, make very early decisions.

It is not a coincidence that this happens.

#1 Cause For Late Decision – Looking At Your Opponent’s Movement

I’d like to point out briefly that one of the most common reasons for late decision is that players look at their opponent because they want to see where he is moving. Based on that information, they make their decision.

mistake in decision

If you’re looking where your opponent is going, you’ll decide too late.

That is, of course, not necessary at all because even intermediate players – not to mention advanced players – always attempt to reach to the ideal recovery position. Then they split step in order not to be caught on the wrong foot.

No one is going to just run to cover the open court without making sure you don’t wrong foot them – unless they are really low level players…

So, you can look at their recovery a million times, and it will always follow the same pattern.

Therefore looking at your opponent’s movement is pointless and only distracts you from tracking the ball well and timing it well.

You must make your decision on where you will play your next shot based on your opponent’s LOCATION at the moment of hitting their shot.

Their location is the main information you need to make your decision on where to play your next shot – and in 80% of the cases that is to the open court.

correct decision process

Deciding where to play based on opponent’s LOCATION at contact is easy, isn’t it?

You may adjust or change your primary decision only if your opponent’s shot is really difficult like very deep or skidding fast very low, and prevents you from hitting a good down the line shot.

In that case, you quickly adjust and play back a deep cross court shot or a down the middle shot.

The Key To Effective And Consistent Tennis – Early And Clear Intention

In summary, decision-making skills are very often neglected in tennis because we can’t see them.

We see only technique and footwork, and those seem to be the causes of poor shots.

The reality is that poor technique and poor movement are usually a consequence of making late and vague decisions about what to do with the ball.

Surely you’ve seen many experienced recreational tennis players with not very impressive stroke techniques who regularly win matches.

They are the masters of early, clear and, of course, smart intention. As you now know, that helps them win many matches, even against players with shiny strokes.

I invite you to test the two simple drills shown in the video above and let me know what you realize when it comes to making a clear and early intention and how that affects your ability to play more accurate and consistent shots.

Leave a Comment:

(47) comments

jonC July 15, 2015

I have accidentally done this early intention thing when I’ve found myself hitting in the zone. During those times, I’m only thinking about what I want the ball to look like as it travels away from me. Unfortunately, those are rare occasions. But I’ve never tried to do it purposefully all the time – will definitely try it. I think on the majority of my strokes, my focus is simply on hitting the ball solidly with spin – I wonder if that kind of thinking hurts my stroke, causing a focusing on the mechanics so that things can’t happen smoothly.

Jon

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    Tomaz July 15, 2015

    How about imagining the trajectory of the ball where you also see the ball spinning in your mind?

    For me the spin can happen totally unconsciously if I imagine the ball curving down after it crosses the net.

    Reply
Richard July 15, 2015

So true, I think in my case at least, one stumbles upon this reality as one progresses in ability, initially just being, ball, position, technique, and racquet oriented. There is nothing more satisfying in tennis, golf, and life, than to see it, imagine it, and then to have it happen. In tennis I find this particularly satisfying with placement, and spin too, of a serve.

Bravo and Thanks Super T. from Slovenia!

Richard

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Tom July 15, 2015

Tomaz- This was another wonderful article. You are unique in your method of instruction. I eagerly look forward to your emails and always find the linked lesson explains both the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ rather than merely repeating the conventional teaching that we’ve heard over and over. I’m a huge fan.

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    Tomaz July 15, 2015

    Much appreciated, Tom. I have a busy summer but will try to share more ideas in the near future…

    Reply
Ryan July 15, 2015

Hey Tomaz,
Excellent video as always, I wanted to ask, what adjustment could be made when playing mini tennis and trying to do this in the service boxes? Thanks again and hope to hear from you soon.
Ryan

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    Tomaz July 15, 2015

    Hi Ryan,

    The adjustment should happen by itself if you let it. What you must let happen is a shorter and slower swing. If you try to do strokes “technically correctly”, you may force them too much and find it difficult to hit the ball gently. Try and just keep the ball in service boxes regardless of any form or “correctness”…

    Reply
Anye Cribben July 15, 2015

Hi Tomaz:

Love this video.. such an important aspect of the game..
You always seem so prepared wherever the ball lands on the court.. never rushed whatever type of ball comes to you…
I find if I think of the trajectory of my intended shot that I tend to look at intended path when I should be watching the ball as I hit it!
Also, your advanced player was moving around the court better than the other hitters & hitting the ball earlier e.g. on the rise!
Thanks ..
I really like your approach to teaching..

Anya

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    Tomaz July 15, 2015

    Good point, Anya. Yes, you need to keep the trajectory in your mind only without actually visualizing on the “background” of what you see. 😉

    What you see is the ball and in your mind it will fly off the contact point in a certain trajectory through a certain height into a certain target.

    Reply
Arturo Hernandez July 15, 2015

Great post! Such a simple instruction and yet so hard to pull off. It seems that I often do have an intention of what I want to do but at times I lose it when under pressure. I suppose that your thoughts would be to just focus on intention even under pressure. Is that correct?

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    Tomaz July 15, 2015

    Yes, Arturo, pressure unsettles the mind and therefore we must strive for that discipline of keeping a very clear intention of how we want the ball to fly.

    A good way to work on that is to play practice sets and matches where there is some pressure and you deliberately work on keeping a clear intention throughout the set.

    It’s very important to have a general strategy set up before – I suggest starting with “move my opponent” or “hit to open court” so that when opportunity arises, you can decide quickly.

    Reply
Paulo Mendes July 15, 2015

Your teachings prove once again to be precious and priceless. Many thanks for your devotion to teaching tennis! I wish I lived in Slovenia so I could have some training sessions with you.
Paulo M

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    Tomaz July 15, 2015

    Thanks, Paulo! You can visit Slovenia at some point and take some lessons, you’re always welcome!

    Reply
    Joanna Aislinn July 23, 2015

    Me too!

    Reply
Zac July 15, 2015

From our very first day on a tennis court most of us are taught to focus on our own bodies. This is a very hard habit to break, even when we recognize how true your message is, Tomaz!

We get into a mindset where our main goal is to hit the ball “well”. In reality, there’s no such thing as a well-hit ball; a shot can only be judged in terms of how close or far it is from doing what you wanted it to do.

For me, one of the best ways to get into this mindset has been to do drills where I’m giving easy balls to my partner. For example, if he’s at the net and volleying with me at the baseline, my goal (my intention) might be to give him easy balls at a comfortable height. When I’m doing that, I’m not thinking about my own technique, I’m just trying to make the ball do a certain thing and adjusting according to what I observe.

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    Tomaz July 15, 2015

    Exactly, Zac. That’s why coaches develop good technique – we need to hit the ball to the player often or to an exact spot we aim for so that they move to it.

    And we do that for a few hours a day – while at the same time developing optimal technique unconsciously.

    Reply
Greg Pierce July 15, 2015

Excellent article, always enjoy your innovative approach to teaching tennis. Would like to clarify one statement you made about using the opponent’s location as a guide for playing your next shot. You said “80% of the time that is to the open court.” If your opponent is covering the court correctly, to me this means more down-the-line shots which conventional wisdom indicates is a higher risk approach than staying in a cross-court rally. I own your Tennis Strategy Encylopedia (my strategy bible) and in there you also talk about playing more cross-court than down-the-line. Am I off base in assuming that more open court shots equals more down-the-line shots?

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    Tomaz July 15, 2015

    Hi Greg,

    Yes, we play more cross court shots than down the line because we recognize from the location of the player that a down the line shot is not ideal in that moment and we seek “the open court” through a cross court shot where we try to open the court more.

    Of course, if opponent’s shot is too good, we need to back off and play a more deep neutral shot.

    The down the line shot is dangerous in theory because if it’s not hit well, your opponent can stretch you wide on the other side. But in practice, very few players do that.

    Perhaps at 4.5+ levels that happens more often so I would still advocate for most players to make their opponents move as much as possible until proven that it’s not working well.

    Reply
LakeSnake July 15, 2015

Such a great video! I think this is my biggest current problem (along with not watching the ball). Concentrating too much on technical elements and forgetting about what I am trying to accomplish. My instructor sometimes yells “what do you want do?” after he hits the ball and even sometimes makes me yell left or right in this manner.

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    Tomaz July 16, 2015

    Good instructor then!

    Reply
Mike July 16, 2015

Recently I’ve been working on cross-court ground stroke drills, where part of the intention (the direction) is already built-in. In that respect it makes it easier to get the intention set early. However, we have also been trying to hit deep shots in the drill, and I think visualizing the net clearance and spin may help me to consistently get the short deeper into the court. Thanks for the video!

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Daniel July 16, 2015

“the CAR versus the DRIVER” is THE best analogy on just about any subject I’ve ever seen. It fits so perfectly and is so easy to understand, that passionate players worldwide who follow you all have a huge smile right now!! Many Thanks, Daniel

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    Carlo November 22, 2016

    100% true! 🙂

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Marcelo July 16, 2015

Thomaz: Thanks a lot as always !!!!

Great article, the tip INTENTION is very important, but You need to consolidate a technique before, isn´t it? At least the minimum to execute the intention.

One drill that we (interclubs team) pratice once a week is play in singles court, where one play cross and the other play down the line. It´s very similar to your drill and very physical demanding.

Always is a pleasure read your posts.

Regards.

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    Tomaz July 16, 2015

    Thanks, Marcelo. Technique and intention should go hand in hand, constantly working together.

    Yes, you can isolate situations where you simply work on training the body to be more efficient in producing swing speed but way too often I see too much instruction on the stroke technique without intention.

    While to a coach it’s very obvious that you need to aim somewhere, to less experienced players it isn’t.

    All they see and hear when it comes to online instruction are stroke corrections and they FALSELY believe that if only they corrected their stroke and do everything perfectly, the ball would go in.

    A better stroke doesn’t put the ball in, it simply hits it more efficiently.

    Someone has to aim it! You gotta aim!!! 😉

    Reply
      Marcelo July 17, 2015

      Thank you Tomaz for the answer. Very clear your concepts.
      Best regards

      Reply
siby July 18, 2015

Excellent tip.

Just for kicks I tried to do serve with my left hand today.

At first I could not make it ..and even after I while I could not make it..then I tried your tip of just thinking with mind..and the mind helped me put the ball in without forcing with arm..so I think the intention is the key like you said..even dont have to look where to hit

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    Tomaz July 18, 2015

    Great, thanks letting us know. It’s almost like holding the ball and you’re about to throw it – surely there’s a target and trajectory in your mind. Same goes for tennis…

    Reply
Zac July 18, 2015

Hi again Tomaz,

A couple of questions about this…

When you’re practicing some specific part of your technique, do you always maintain the intention in your strokes at the same time?

For example, in your post about watching the ball you mentioned that you spent a few months working on that exclusively. Were you also hitting with intention, or did you hit with less intention in order to focus on your ball-vision?

In your posts about the serve you’ve mentioned the importance of not serving into the serve box when you work on relaxation and racquet-head speed. I guess at those times you are putting the intention on hold. Do you do the same thing when you work on other parts of technique, for example, using your body, using the ground, throwing the racquet at the ball, “pressing and rolling”, etc.?

Or do you divide your focus between your intention and these other concerns? If so, what percentage of your attention are you putting on your intention and what percentage are you putting on the element of your technique you’re working on?

Thanks. Zac

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    Tomaz July 18, 2015

    Good questions, Zac.

    If I am working on the biomechanics of the stroke, then I do not ask the player to focus in intention too, but once they start getting the idea, I quickly remind them to know what they want to do with the ball.

    As I was working on watching the ball, yes, my intention is always there which is to hit to my partner a good ball. I know direction, speed and depth that is comfortable for him so he can give me a nice ball back.

    As for serves, for those specific exercises where I want the player to let go, then there is no specific target. You can say that the intention is to make the ball fly off the racquet effortlessly.

    Again, I may focus on a specific idea that you mention (ground, etc.) until the player gets it. Once they do, I bring them back to the whole point of playing tennis which is to direct the ball somewhere!

    Tough to say in percentages. 100% technical thing until the player gets the idea, then 50% : 50% technique – intention then looking to move the player’s focus eventually to 100% intention so that one day they can finally play tennis.

    I work with adults almost every day and many have been working on their game for years and still not once can they manage to simply play tennis.

    EVERY time they are trying to correct something, not knowing that it is intention that makes the strokes self-correct if they’re on the right track.

    They can’t play even 10 minutes of free hitting down the middle and simply feeling whether the stroke feels right or wrong and trusting that this feedback loop is going to improve their strokes in the long term.

    Yes, I know they don’t know if they’re on the right track but this desire for perfect technique is a disease that makes many players very sick and doesn’t allow them to enjoy their current abilities and tennis overall.

    I am personally very sad about that.

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George Carabelas July 19, 2015

Another highly relevant and insightful post from Tomaz. Fundamentally, the task of learning to play the game is multi-faceted. Some players manage a good outcome without any “coaching” whilst we see too many struggling in spite having gone through a considerable period receiving the same. The issue I see is the concentration on “technique” by the standard professional coach almost anywhere I go.

A player with a basic “sporting instinct” who may have a reasonable level of physical skills may concentrate on simply playing tennis, which will naturally dictate that the ball must follow the “rules” ie height, spin, direction and speed. Then if drawn into technique almost exclusively he is likely to compromise his natural skill of intentionally hitting the ball to a purpose.

I would dare to suggest that starting a player off with advice on “how to play”, in the context of tactical elements of the game and then proceed to draw attention to technical issues progressively in the process of actually playing the game would achieve a more efficient outcome.

Your thoughts, as I simply think that your advice is perfectly correct but to a pupil stuck in the mud with respect to the myriad of advices spinning around in his head he may forget your point as soon as he is out there.

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    Tomaz July 19, 2015

    Good points, George. With so much information accessible now with a click of a mouse button, we quickly realize that our technique is not the same as Federer’s. 20 years ago no one cared much if their technique wasn’t exactly like Agassi’s and we roughly wanted to copy it, then we played a lot. And I mean a lot.

    Now with all the detailed analysis players falsely believe they can learn what took Federer 10 years, in 2 months following a certain set of exercises.

    You can’t, you can only strive towards it and all along the way you know that you are still hitting with really nice technique for your current stage in tennis journey.

    With that mindset technique actually improves in time automatically under the conditions that you are looking to improve timing, contact point, weight transfer, balance, smoothness of your strokes and intention which are all the latest articles I posted.

    Urban and I did not have a single lesson in our lives from a tennis coach and we’re both 5.0+ players with almost perfect technique of all strokes. I know how that developed through the years and long summers so I am sharing my ideas.

    Yes, there is a place for technique (mechanics) but remember than 90%-95% of tennis practice in any club or academy is not technical but repetition…

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Carlos July 19, 2015

Once again GREAT insights Tomaz. Thank you!

I am an avid fan of your teaching. I have not been able to find your thoughts on the return of serve. Perhaps, you can share with us some pointers considering intention?

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    Tomaz July 19, 2015

    Good question, Carlos.

    On the return of the first serve, I already have an intention that I will return deep down the middle regardless of where the serve goes.

    On the second serve, I know what I’ll do if the serve goes to my backhand and what I will do if the serve goes to my forehand. I may have to quickly adjust if the serve is better than expected but generally I have pre-planned my return before opponent serves the ball.

    Where and how to return depends on my own skills and opponent’s quality of the second serve.

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León varela July 21, 2015

Very good instruction. In my instruction classes we call that the inner game in which you teach to foresee your stroke out put before you execute it.

That is having an intention to do something in your mind in anticipation of the actual moment of happening.

It is like playing chess, using tactic to predict the outcome of the stroke of your opponent in which you are in advance prepared mentally with the intention to hit a good stroke.

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CH July 24, 2015

Hi Tomaz. Thanks for this great tip! It has helped me a lot. One question: for rally groundstrokes and topspin serve, we would visualise the ball trajectory in an arc. What about volleys and slices? Would we have to visualise the ball skidding across the court? Passing shots or flat shots as well– would we have to visualise a straight ball path travelling slightly low over the net?

Thanks!

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    Tomaz July 24, 2015

    Good question, CH! I visualize on most volleys that are below or slightly above the net still some arc, although a shallow one. Only on very high volleys I would see a straight line.

    For backhand slice I want it to float first – so I think in a shallow arc.

    I don’t know what level you are but I would say maybe at around 4.5+ you can start thinking of very straight biting slice shots since they are quite risky if you’re not very skilled at them.

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Paul July 26, 2015

Hi Tomaz,

When I’m playing a match and I’m confident and relaxt (everything seems to flow), than I just have to focus on my intention and it will just happen. In that state I’m not thinking but I’m (besides my intention) totally aware of how my swings go smoothly and effortless.

My question is what to do (focus on) if the ball didn’t go where I’m intent to hit, because I’m not in the right mental state. Do I just have to keep focussing on my intention during play and use only the in between point time the get myself in the right state. Or can I better focus a while on my state during play: breathing out, letting the energy flow, swinging smoothly, etc. I know I don’t have to think about it, but can paying awareness to my body during play help me out. Or is this not the right way, because it will take the focus away from my intention (which is off course the goal when playing a match).

I hope you understand what I mean and are willing to give me advice.
Thanks in advance!

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    Tomaz July 26, 2015

    Hi Paul,

    I think this is situation where everyone has to find their own solution testing different approaches. I can tell what I do…

    If I am not hitting the ball roughly where I want, then I am not hitting it cleanly and I may be mistiming is slightly.

    So my first goal is to get my strokes functioning properly, therefore I simplify my intention by hitting more down the middle or simply more away from sidelines and I don’t think very tactically, but I do similar things as you suggested.

    So I am looking to make my strokes smooth, checking if I see the ball well, looking to get into the rhythm of the ball and so on.

    I am simply looking to find my strokes again. I might do that for up to 2-3 games while playing very simple high percentage tennis hitting away from sidelines.

    Only when I find my strokes, I’ll go back to quick decisions and just “playing”.

    It may happen though that my opponent is too good and will just blow me off the court if I play down the middle too much.

    In that case I am still better off putting a lot of pressure on him (so that he doesn’t) and do the best I can with my strokes slightly off.

    Then I’ll try to really calm down and find my ideal state in between points and during changeovers.

    Reply
      Paul July 26, 2015

      Thanks Tomaz,
      Keep on the good work!

      Reply
Scott July 26, 2015

Another EXCELLENT video, T. Like so many other players, my focus is always on technique, and not intention. I can’t wait to get on the practice court with my hitting partners and start applying this lesson. If you ever hold training sessions in the United States, you can be sure I’ll be one of the first to sign up. Your teaching philosophy is singularly unique. Very impressive!

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Joanna August 9, 2015

What I love best about your instruction, via your posts, is how your lessons “stay with me” (whether practicing alone or playing a match.

I’ve spent the past few practice sessions hitting with far more intention and significantly greater accuracy. Visualizing the ball’s trajectory had me hitting the lines with more consistency (and b/c I want to, not b/c I got lucky on the shot, lol).

You rock, Tomaz. I wish you much prosperity I. Your coaching on your side of the world. Never underestimate how far reaching your teaching is. Many, many thanks!

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    Tomaz August 9, 2015

    Great to hear, Joanna! Intention also helps us be less emotionally involved with our opponent as we’re not thinking about beating them, but we’re focusing on hitting targets on each shot.

    So long term you’re experiencing less pressure in matches…

    Reply
John A Flores August 16, 2015

This video on intention is the best advice I’ve seen or heard in years. I have a general question for you about playing doubles. In doubles all other things being equal, it seems like a flat hard forhand and also backspin can be more effective than topspin. In other words harder to return. Therefore in doubles it seems worthwhile to try to flatten your shots if you can be as consistent with either. So with the INTENTION of getting the ball over into the open court at a certain height -would you be mixing up your groundstrokes or flatting them or going with your more consistent topspin stroke.

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Marcion September 8, 2015

The was an insight I’d been (finally) reaching myself, so I’m really pleased to see it confirmed here.

I realise now that my high unforced error rate has been mostly down to errors in decision-making, not errors in technique. When I just think about where I want to put the ball, and nothing else, I make all the final micro-adjustments automatically and the shots are great. As soon as I start thinking about anything else – technique, the score, the opponent – I react late and everything misses.

I think this also explains why pushers can really mess you up. As you say their own intent is really strong, but also their shots give you too much time and too many options, so you overthink an easy ball where you’d just react instinctively to a more difficult one.

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    Tomaz September 8, 2015

    Good points, Marcion. Yes, any time you think anything as the ball is approaching you, you are taking a part of the brain’s processing power away so there is less “CPU” power to process the ball’s flight.

    Ans since that’s a very demanding calculation, as soon as you don’t have full “CPU” capacity, it will probably not be enough power to calculate the ball’s flight well and you’ll be late or misjudge the distance to the ball.

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charlotte September 21, 2015

Fantastic video and detailed explanation ! I tried it in a match immediately and it helps a lot ; it helps me also to avoid ‘thinking about technique’ because this technique-thinking is like a negative circle in a match ….
I am a huge fan . thanks

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