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How an Injury Can Help Your Game
Many times a problem can turn into a good thing. I bruised
my lower back recently by incorrectly doing a Deadlift. It
has been taking me a long time to heal my back. I decided to
play tennis the Monday of our so-called blizzard even though I was not fully
recovered.

I decided to take it easy and only hit second serves. This I thought
might be easier on my back. (Though it turned out I was
quite sore the next day anyway.) The key here is that I
limited myself to only one serve, my second serve slice.

It turned out to really work to my advantage. This serve is very easy for me to
get in. Plus the fact that I was only doing that serve reduced
my options and allowed me to focus on mastering one kind of
serve. I didn't have to do a hard flat, kick or even a hard
slice serve. So I went from four choices of a basic serve
down to one basic choice. I only hit my Super Slice second
serve.

For some reason this made me very calm and therefore
confident. I was breathing deeply when going to serve. The
serve was very effective. My doubles competition was
complaining about how un-hittable my serve was. At one point
we won about 10 straight points on my serve. They never broke
my serve, even though in the last game they had us done love
40.

One of our opponents thought I was bragging when I told them
I only used my second serve. But I was just amazed at how effective just one
slice serve could be. There are two keys to this serve. One is that my second
serves had a very heavy spin and were curving quite a bit to
the left. The speed was moderately fast, not even close to
my top speed serve. The other key was good placement. Since
I felt confident in getting my serve in, my placement got
better. 

There are 4 major factors in serving; placement, depth, spin
and speed. I combined 3 of those factors very well in one
type of serve that was easy to get in.  What makes Pete
Sampras so un-hittable is that he combines all the factors
at once. Also all of Pete's serves are hit in almost the
exact same manner. He just changes a couple of things a
millisecond before striking the ball. That makes him very
relaxed because he doesn't have to constantly adjust to
doing a different kind of serve.

To play better, pick only one way for hitting each stroke
and stick to it as much as possible. I did this same
technique many years ago in a tournament. I played much
better than the previous tournament because my game was
simplified and I was able to get into a groove and then
later the zone.

In fact I just realized something. The times I felt I have
gotten into the Zone were times when I was very relaxed.
This may be a key to continuous Peak Performance. I'll try
to do relaxation exercises before every match and see how
that affects my playing ability in the future. Good luck
with your tennis games. I hope this tip was helpful.

Roger Haeske
 

 

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Last modified: March 07, 2005
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