by Angelo A. Rossetti, USPTA Elite/PTR Professional, USTA HP & Mental Skills Certified & 2x Guinness World Records™ holder
4 all first set Murray serving in the gold medal match of the 2016 Olympics. Double fault. I’ve always said that double faults aren’t all created equal just like errors in any sport aren’t all created equal.
It appeared as though Andy Murray had a situational double fault. He missed his first serve well long and hit an extremely slow middle of the box serve into the middle of the net.
It was an unproductive DF (double fault) rather than a productive one.
It seemed to have been hit without much purpose besides “just get it in” or even worse “don’t double fault”. Don’t get me wrong, Murray ended up pulling out the gold medal win and got past some situational mistakes.
It happens to some of the best athletes in any sport. Shots that you can make “in your sleep”, that you make day in and day out in practice, somehow leave you when you need them most.
Usually over-thinking the score or letting your mind wander to the future or to the past causes these hiccups.
In golf they call them the yipps. Shots that are so bad or misses that are so poor that it takes a special skill to pull them off.
I’ve seen servers in tennis miss so badly that the ball actually bounces before hitting the net or hitting the backstop on the fly.
Emotion vs Logic. Head vs Heart.
What happens on big points or in big situations is that the player starts to think about the gravity of the situation. If you find yourself in an Olympic final on the verge of back to back golds, your mind could want to thoughts like ‘I’m close to closing out this set. If I do and end up winning this match I may end up doing what no one else has in the history of the Olympics.’
Thoughts like these can be helpful to get you fired up prior to the final, serve the purpose of getting your attention and getting you prioritizing extra practice but during a match typically cause negative energy. More productive thoughts aren’t situational at all. ‘This is just another serve. You’ve done this a thousand times. Success is following through.’
The more you remove your emotions and appeal to logic the better chance you will have to avoid situational errors. I’ve coached players who have difficulty closing out games, sets or matches. One way to approach this challenge is to pretend that you are two points away. Almost forget the score. Then when you arrive at match point you would have already won.
The concept of using your head and not your heart, using your thoughts not your emotions need practice to make permanent just like a solid forehand.
I always welcome feedback at angeloarossetti @ gmail .com.
You can learn more about a couple of tennis GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ that I have been a part of:
FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
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