It's amazing how differently you can hit the ball when you look at it. While hitting the court this weekend, things were going pretty well at the onset of a hitting session. When I'm moving my feet and keeping the ball in play, while moving my partner around, all is well and I'm happy.
But things don't always stay status quo. His game picks up, he hits a few good shots that gives him more confidence, and things begin to change. He starts hitting deeper, with more angle and even more pace. This of course make my shots more defensive and thus gives him space to step in and hit a winner.
So the evaluation and calculation process begins. What was I doing earlier in our hitting that I am not doing now? Is he simply playing better, or did my shotmaking drop off and open the door for him to take over? This process of discovery is not all that easy for recreational players in general. There can be so many things wrong, or right, at any given moment.
We sometimes talk about over-thinking the shot, and we tell ourselves to just let it happen. "Trust your swing, positioning, distance, and racquet face." These are the words we force into our minds. But there is a caveat to letting it "happen." In some cases, we do what I did–I stopped watching the ball. After running through a variety of possible reasons for my letdown, I decided that my focus on the ball had been compromised. So what did I do? I committed to looking intently at the ball on every shot and fine tune my focus to achieve a better "minds-eye" measurement.
Guess what happened? I did better. I started hitting deeper, with more pace and better direction, and created a more defensive response from my partner. Can you now predict what happened as a result? His defense fed me a better chance for even stronger offense. And all this came from simply realizing I was not watching the ball well enough.
How simple are your difficulties on the court to fix? Are they a result of something very small? Most times they are. Do don't berate yourself when things are going wrong as if your tennis ability is miles away. You are usually only within inches of better success.