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Tennis Anyone?

How to Master Tennis Strategy and Tactics

Learn to play by Feel

First, avoid playing by rote. Rote is doing something by following verbal instructions with little thought or understanding. An example is following a recipe to bake a cake. You have no idea why you must do these things or why they change the batter the way they do. You just follow the instructions like a robot and, voila, out comes a cake.
It's a no-brainer.
But you can't play tennis that way. That is, you can't play tennis by following memorized dos and don'ts.

christine - building blocks

You'd have to memorize many rules like the following:

(1) Get your first serve in.
(2) Hit deep to deep and short to short.
(3) Don't go for a finishing shot unless you're less than 14 feet from the net.
(4) Volley through the angular gap between up-and-back opponents.
(5) Don't position wide of the sidelines when you and your partner are both back.
(6) Don't angle a volley to a baseline opponent's alley unless he or she is too far away to reach the shot....
And so on and on.
Those are all verbal instructions. This means that the brain processes and stores them as language, not raw information (e.g., sights, sounds, or feelings). Encoding information in the form of language is much more complicated and requires much more brain power.
It occurs in the brain's massive frontal lobe where conscious thinking occurs.



Now what happens when you take those verbal instructions to court with you?
It's as simple as that: the brain can't think and play tennis at the same time. Your play will deteriorate, because your perceptions are dulled and corners are cut in timing and coordination. All to accommodate thinking.
You aren't going to see or hear or judge the ball very well. You won't notice things about the battlefield that opening as big as a barn door in the opposition's court. In fact, you will even lose awareness of what your body is doing.
So don't think while the ball is coming. When the ball is coming, you don't want to be focused on your thinking, on what you're supposed to remember. You don't want diminished awareness of what the ball and your body are doing. You want heightened awareness of what the ball and your body are doing.
Therefore, what your mind does when you try to play by rote is actually a DISTRACTION. Yes, your own mind distracts your attention from the ball and your body. This is why, as everyone knows, you play tennis best when you're not thinking. And trying to remember something IS thinking. In fact, it's the heaviest kind of thinking there is.
You need to play the way you drive a car, by just seeing what to do and doing it without thinking — that is, by doing it intuitively. Then you're using a different part of the brain in a much simpler process. It's the imagination where nonverbal information is stored as raw experience to produce Natural Learning. That's where our instinctive, intuitive responses come from.
To play tennis intuitively you can't just memorize verbal instructions about what to do in every situation. You must understand the game at a deep level. This means that you must own the pure concepts and ideas so that they serve as a foundation, or mental framework, you operate within as you play.
Result? Then the strategic features of the situation jump out of the background at you and grab your focus. You spot and recognize them instantly as (a) threats to avoid, (b) opportunities to seize, or (c) targets to aim at.

All can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. The Art of War ~~Sun Tzu