So what does getting Tight mean anyway?
I would think it safe to say most Sports Players have experienced getting tight at critical moments of competition but I have actually met many who have not.
During the beginning years of my playing experience, I had many moments where the muscles just didn't respond to what my mind was commanding. They felt like I had weights wrapped around my arms but later on as I began to understand this condition more, I found that feeling of getting tight less & less.
So you're serving from the Ad-Court 4-5 in the 3rd Set 30-40. Your opponent is standing inside of the baseline sending a clear signal that he is either going for an out right winner or chipping & charging. Now there is a receipt for getting tight if there ever was one.
Your arms feel like rubber and there seems to be a lack of communication between your arms & brain. You're nervous, scared, worried but most of all in most cases, you're committing the biggest violation of a winning strategy.
When you begin to worry about making errors and find yourself pulling up on your strokes and/or failing to go for the corners like you're so accustomed of do when you're feeling confident, that is a sign of begin tight.
When you begin to spin your serves in instead of going for them as normal, you've lost confidence on your serve as a weapon which is a sign of getting tight. And if you're still not certain whether you're tight or not, just think how often you've seen a player pull their opponent off court with a very nice corner shot leaving the opposite corner as the obvious goto shot but instead you see the aggressor it their far less than aggressive shot down the middle finding themselves now on defense instead. Yep, they got tight for sure and lost their confidence.
So what I'm saying is, being Tight is equal to losing one's confidence during a match and how in the World does that happen?
1. To many unforced errors
2. Having to hit too many shots that would have won the point long ago against other opponents that begins to force you to go for more than you're use too which begins to bring on the unforced errors.
3. Thinking that what you are doing is not working, forcing you to change up your game during play.
4. Seeming to lose your ability to get your 1st serve in.
5 Allowing your opponent to take control of the point from the first ball because instead of returning an aggressive return, you begin to return serves right back down the middle of the court.
Lack of Confidence is a condition of being Tight or is being Tight a condition of losing your confidence?
Regardless, either is avoidable and controllable.
* If you find that you're playing too fast, slow it down a bit. After a point is over if you're serving, don't just get the next ball and start all over again, walk up to the line, take a breath relax and think about what your game plan is. Then once you've decided, execute that plan.
* If you're known for delivering triple digit 1st serves, then continue to do that but mix it up, go out wide and always be ready for the return no matter how good your serve was. Always be ready to hit the next shot. If you're serving from the deuce court and slice your serve outwide, your objective should be to then go for the Ad-Court corner. Even if your opponent knows that's where it's going, do it anyway. So they return the ball but instead of standing there waiting for them to do their thing, come in for the put away.
The problem with Baseline Players is, quite often you get so comfortable standing on that line that you tend to forget that you do have the ability to follow a penetrating shot into the net for an easy put-away. The Net can be your friend if you let it. Don't just come in on a bluff, you need to work on knowing when is the right time to attack & when it's not.
This is something you & your Coach must work on very hard. When I say, "Work on" I am no talking about after successfully putting away a couple of net volleys, you're done. I mean given it so much commitment that coming in behind a good aggressive shot needs to become instinct.
I laugh when I hear people like Maria Sharapova claim, she's not good with sliding on Clay, Well there lays the work set before you. Maria, you have plenty of money, build a freakin Clay Court on your many acres of land and bring in a good Clay Court Coach. That person will work on nothing other than showing you how to slide into a shot from on angles. Well the same goes for those who are not comfortable with knowing when to attack the Net.
Obviously neither does the person who is Coaching you because if you're still looking like a Deer in the headlights when you come to the Net, your Coach doesn't have a clue either so bring in someone who can help you understand the concept(s) of commanding the Net.
Once you've begun to incorporate other elements of the game into your arsenal of Tennis weapons, you are no longer dependent on your One dimensional approach that was working for years but now, others know your game and it's no longer a threat to them.
But during a match if you find yourself getting your butt kicked and you're up against the wall on critical points, play through it. Win or Lose, you gotta do what got you to where you are. If blasting a Back hand down the line is your signature shot, then let's see it when it matters most. Even if you think you might miss it, then miss it. Because the beauty of being tight or losing confidence is, after a few winning shots, you become your old self again.
Maria Sharapova began to believe she had nothing to hurt this kid and therefore began to hurt herself. All Melanie had to do was hang around and allow Maria to win for her by just keeping to the ball in play.
As my kids would say, "Do you feel me?" ha ha sorry I guess it doesn't come out the same from someone my age huh?