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What to Do When You’re the Weak Link on the Tennis Court – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 153

By Kselz @TennisFixation

When you play doubles, there are four people out on the court. And one of those people has to be the weak link, right? So this week, we're talking about the mental game in tennis and what you can do when you figure out that you're the weak link on the tennis court. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player in this post or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link:

What to Do When You’re the Weak Link on the Tennis Court – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 153


So I'm doing this episode because I got this comment recently from Tennis Quick Tips listener Cheryl who had this to say:

I had a partner who said the other team was hitting all the balls to me. I really didn't think this was true but even if it was what was her reason for saying this to me? (we had just won the game when she pointed this out). I felt she was saying I wasn't as good as she was and since she said it in front of the other team it really pissed me off. This was supposed to be a "fun" match but I ended up feeling ganged up on by my friends. Am I being too sensitive and was there a reason she said this that could help our game?

We've All Received Negative Comments from Our Partners

You know what, I bet we have all had the experience of playing with someone who has said something that we took in a way that made us feel bad. Either we thought they were making a comment to tell us that we weren't as good as they were or that we were messing up too much or that we needed to step up our game. We've all been on the receiving end of comments that made us feel bad out on the tennis court.

So let's talk about Cheryl's situation specifically because clearly what her partner was saying to her was, "you're the weak link and you need to step it up." There are two ways I think you can interpret Cheryl's partner's comment.

Scenario No. 1 - Your Partner Is Just Rude

The first way is to say that her partner was just being rude to her. She was not saying this in any way that could help them play better tennis or win the match. And, I hate to say it, but there are people like that but there are people like that out there. There are people who are just rude and obnoxious and don't really think before they speak. And when you're in the middle of a tennis match, it is really important that you not do something that is going to irritate your tennis partner because that truly cannot help you win the match. And perhaps that's what Cheryl's partner was doing - she was just speaking in a very unhelpful and condescending way, without thinking about how that was going to impact how Cheryl was going to play and how the partnership between the two of them was going to move forward in that particular match.

When that happens to you, if that's what's going on, honestly, there's just not a lot you can do about that. I have a link below to a podcast episode called How to Deal with Rude, Obnoxious and Annoying Tennis Players. That episode gives some tips for how to deal with players who just flat out don't get it, that they are being rude, obnoxious and/or annoying and they are not helping what is happening out on the tennis court.

The bottom line with those types of players is that you almost have to just suck it up and be patient and get through that match. Then figure out, in the future, how to avoid playing with them. If that is what was happening with Cheryl, if that's the kind of partner she was playing with, there's just not a lot you can do about that person except try to not be partnered with them in the future.

Scenario No. 2 - Your Partner Is Coaching You as a Defense Mechanism

There is a second thing that might have been happening with Cheryl. And that is that her partner was trying to be a coach on the court. I don't think that being a coach is a great way to handle your partnership. But you do find it happening out on the court. Cheryl's partner may have thought being a coach was being helpful or at least in the way that she was telling Cheryl "this is your fault and you need to do something about it."

I also did a podcast episode on this called How to Play with the Worst Tennis Partner Ever. Again, there's not a lot you can do with these partners, other than be patient, keep a positive attitude. And realize that when things are going wrong with these coaching or blaming partners, this is their defense mechanism, to try to shift the focus to you. You can't let it get to you. You have to be patient and keep trying to be upbeat and keep trying to play the best tennis that you can play.

Scenario No. 3 - Your Partner Is Just Pointing Out the Obvious Tactic Your Opponents are Using

There is also a third option that might have been happening for Cheryl. This has been a situation that I've been in. I think this is appropriate but there may be some people who disagree with me. But I myself have said something very similar to a partner before. And this is the situation where I have, on more than one occasion, indicated to my partner, "they're hitting everything to you so be ready."

A lot of times if I'm doing really well on court, for whatever reason, I'm up at the net getting a lot of volleys back, and maybe my partner is staying back quite a bit, it becomes very obvious to me that my opponents are not going to hit the ball to me anymore. They're going to hit them all to my partner because I've just had several good shots in a row and I'm up at the net so why would they hit to me? Whether my partner truly is the weak link or not, at that moment, she is and so that's where the ball is going to go. And at that time, I have said to my partner, "hey, I just had a bunch of good shots in a row so they've got to hit to you. Be ready for everything to be coming back to you." And the reason I say that is I want to make sure my partner understand that that's what is happening, that's why it's happening, and to be prepared for it. I think a lot of people don't think that every ball is potentially their ball. I do think that that's a good attitude to have - to get involved. If I have partner who's staying back and not playing aggressively, I want her to be aware that this is probably what's going to happen and to be prepared to be picked on.

Perhaps that's what Cheryl's partner was trying to say. Not necessarily that you aren't as good as me so they're picking on you because you're the weak link. Perhaps what she meant was more this is obviously the next thing that's going to happen. They have to shift from me to you because I just did several good things to they have to start picking on you. And definitely early in a match, you see this a lot, where opponents will initially focus on one partner and, if that doesn't work, they'll shift to the other partner.

So maybe that's what was happening, Cheryl's partner wasn't being condescending. She was trying to say this is what's going to happen next - they're going to pick on you.

You Won't Always Be the Weak Link so Don't Take It Too Hard

The bottom line - don't take it too hard. Don't be too sensitive. Look at the situation positively and with a good attitude. Realize there might be a way this could help your game. And if your partner has now said this to you, then go for it. Try to take as many balls as you can. Play your game. Try to maintain a good attitude and don't let your partner's remarks destroy your partnership and what's happening out on the court, at least not at that moment. Don't let the match go down the drain because you're so worried and focused on what is your partner trying to say to you about your tennis skills. You can be pissed off about it later.


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What to Do When You’re the Weak Link on the Tennis Court – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 153
© Kim Selzman 2016 All Rights Reserved

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