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Player to Player: Superstitions

February 22, 2013 08:18 AM
Have a question? Receive advice from your fellow tennis players!
Real Tennis Players - Like You! - Asking For and Offering Advice on the Sport They Love
Player to Player is USTA.com’s regular feature in which everyday tennis players are given a forum to ask advice on the sport they love – and their fellow players will dish out advice. We’ll post a number of the best responses we receive to our question of the week.
Player to Player:
This week's question, from Adrian:
How can I get more power and kick on my kick serve, and how can I not mishit as much either?
Please share your thoughts by e-mailing Player@usta.com, and include your name and hometown.

Got a question of your own? Send that along, too!
Last week's question, from Coach Leonard, Walnut Creek, Calif.:
(Please note: There is no need to send additional responses to this question.)
Since some believe that 2013 is a year for bad luck, does anyone want to share any superstitions or pre-game rituals? You can add the source of the origin or a success story, too. The pros on tour still have theirs, like the same ball-bounce count prior to serving or racquet spins prior to receiving. I recall watching a player consistently fussing with the tennis ball just before serving. I asked her why after the match. She said that she wanted her strings to catch the side of the ball that had the printed logo. She said it gave her serve more spin. Don't laugh. There are still pros who won't step on a line when walking on and off the court.
Editor's Note: See below for Coach Leonard's own response.

Player Responses:

Nancy C., Highland, Calif.

I've been playing tennis for over 50 years. Up until a few years ago, I never served the same ball twice. I just knew my serve would be a fault if I used the same one. I could have just served an ace, but it didn't matter. A few years ago, I made a concerted effort to change that. It wasn't easy, and, yes, I faulted a lot of serves until I realized I was just being stupid and it was all in my head.

Rita, Minneola, Fla.

I need all three balls at all times, and I bounce the ball three times before serving.

Coach Leonard

To some, superstitions are for those who believe in luck. The key word is "believe." If something helps you believe that you're going to play better or even win, don't knock it.
NBA great Pete Maravich wore his lucky gray socks. Bill Walsh, famed San Francisco 49ers coach, always wrote the first 100 plays down before the game started. Tennis great Jimmy Connors religiously bounced the tennis ball 14 times before every serve. What seems worthless in one person's eyes is gold to another.
Often players will listen to special music just prior to competing. It might be new age or classical to soothe the mind. It could be hip hop or hard rock to pump up the adrenaline. I used to play the "Rocky" theme, which evolved to the "Top Gun" theme, to get fired up.
Here are a few superstitions that I know are still popular:
  1. Don't turn the score cards.
  2. Have all three balls before serving.
  3. Bounce the ball the same number of times before serving.
  4. Wear a lucky outfit.
  5. Eat the exact same meal prior to a match.
  6. Wrap the grips on the bench.
  7. Use one lucky racquet, even though you have three more of the same.
I'm stopping my list at lucky 7. I definitely don't want to list 13. Bottom line, whatever helps you get to the winner's circle, do it. As long as it's within USTA rules, do it. It may be crazy, but there are too many sane losers who could need the extra edge.
*Please note that any advice given out in this forum should in no way be confused with actual medical advice. Before starting any new exercise regimen or altering your existing one, we strongly urge you to consult with your regular physician.
Click here for USTA.com's Player to Player Archive.


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