Thank you for all the questions that you asked me last few weeks. I got over 1,500 questions to look at.
Two genre or questions stood out.
The good news is that I am in the final stages of releasing a Free Mental Toughness Workshop that will help answer a lot of the questions related to playing better under pressure.
The other category that had the most questions was related to what to do with your partner. That is not surprising given that we are a community of doubles players and our partners are critical to our success. Whether they are having a bad day, saying rude comments or not helpful things or just flat out not willing to communicate with you, having a partner that is not "on board" is probably one of the hardest situations to deal with. So what can you do?
The first thing is to realize that there is nothing you can do to make your partner play better, but there is a lot you can do to make them play worse. When my partner was having a bad day, the best thing I could do for her was encourage her with positive words, but then let her be.
Some of the things I would say would include these phrases:
"it's ok, don't worry about it"
"stick with it"
"try moving your feet"
"keep battling, it will come" (or it will get better)
In the end, they have to figure it out on their own, and sometimes giving them a little extra space when they are not playing well is exactly what they need.
So while your partner is having a "bad day" and "blowing it for you" your job is to stay positive and keep doing everything you can to keep up your end of the stick. If they continue to battle, their level of play should come around. The last thing you need is for them to "come out of their funk" only after you have completely given up.
I want to share with you a section a the Complete Partnership Guide, which is a bonus with the mental product I am releasing in January. Here is the section about what DOES NOT work in partnerships. Next month, I will talk about what works.
What doesn’t work
A good way to determine what works about good partnerships is to discuss what doesn’t work. Here’s a look at a few concepts:
There is no “I” in Team
Doubles is a team sport - very different from singles. If you are only thinking about yourself and how to win points in doubles, then you are missing the point - both figuratively and literally. Good doubles players are constantly thinking about how to set up their partners to finish points for them and to make them look good. They don’t hit shots that expose their partners to getting burned by the opponent and they aren’t constantly trying to hit winners on their own. Most certain, they don’t take credit for the team’s wins. A team wins together and losses together.
Playing the Blame Game
I am sure we have all been there at one point or another. We come off a match and tell anyone who will listen (even a supermarket clerk) about how our partner blew the match - how she missed the easiest sitter on top of the net at 4-5, 30-40. But what about the shots you missed and the other opportunities your team had? If you are thinking of blaming your partner, I promise that you will never become a very good doubles player. You can never, ever blame your partner for bad play or a loss. It’s always a team thing. If you lose, it’s not because your partner played bad, it’s because the team played bad. The same applies to a win. The team wins and loses...not the individual.
Bossing your Partner
Few things are worse in life than being told what to do. This probably starts back in childhood, when we rebel against our parents telling us what to do. Even as children, we seek independence. Most adults don’t want anyone bossing them around. Unless your partner has specifically said, “Tell me what to do and I will try to do it”, then you should err on the side of not constantly telling your partner what to do or bossing them around the court. Instead, use plural pronouns such as “we”, “us”, “both” or “neither”. Examples include:
Next month, I will share the section of the Partnership document that talks about how to be a good partner.
In the meantime, stay positive and encourage your partners.
Remember, there are 2 ways to get up a hill, pulling up or pushing down.
Which do you do?
I bet most of you don't know that I almost quit my career just four years into it! I was ready to put my racquet down and walk away ... FOR REAL! I was struggling with constantly losing and feeling like a failure.
The 1988 US Open was the turning point of my career. It was the turning point, not because I won my first Grand Slam, but because it was during that US Open that I came to the realization that tennis is much more of a mental game than it is a game of skill.
As most of you know, I have been teaching recreational players for the past 8 years. I have met some amazing people and some fans have become friends. During this time, I have been listening to what you have to say. I have listened to your match analysis, your moods, your tones, your feelings and comments on and off the court. If you have listened to me talk about the Mental Game in the lectures that I give when I conduct The Gigi Method clinics at a clubs, or ever had a conversation with me about the mental game, you might have noticed that I was probably smiling when you were talking to me. I was not laughing at you... I smile because when I hear my students narrate their explanations of why they lost a match, or how they won but they did it in 3 sets when it should have been in 2 sets, it brings me back to when I almost quit my career. If I had not learned the lesson that Dr. Jim Loehr taught me at that 1988 US Open, my career would have probably been over at the end of that year.
Instead, I won the 1988 US Open and went on a 10 year journey of discovery where I learned to master my mind and had complete mental dominance over it. I controlled my mind and thoughts, IT didn't control me and I can assure you that YOU can too.
In the video below, I referenced The Road Map to Mental Dominance. I am excited to share with you that for the past six months, I have been working on this new project because SO MANY of you struggle with this aspect of the game. It is great to learn positioning, court coverage, shot selection and all the things I cover in The Gigi Method Doubles instructional program, but what good is that if when you step on the court your mind sabotages you and you can't play to your ability? In The Road Map to Mental Dominance, I cover the 7 Pillars to Mental Dominance and in the video below I am talking about one of the ten elements in the mental tool kit that comprises the 7th Pillar of Mental Dominance.
I am in the middle of producing this program (which is why this Tip didn't arrive at 8am like it usually does) BUT before I complete it, I want to hear from you. Click on the video and listen to me talk about how Learning to Act helped me with the 1988 US Open and how it can help you. Leave me a comment and let me know what you struggle with the most when it comes to the mental game. I bet many of you have very similar mental challenges. My opponents are annoying, my partner talks to much, they gave us a bad call, I get tight and can't play, I stress on break point, and I double fault... the list is endless and I want to hear it all. Please comment and share with me so I can make sure to answer as many of your questions as possible.
I look forward to reading your comments.
How to be an Effective Poacher
For more video like this, (or to learn Gigi's 2 rules for coming in to the net which she references in the video) consider buying The Gigi Method doubles instructional program.
I have received a lot of emails, chats on my website and texts from people asking me what I thought about the debacle at the US Open Women's Final, so here are my thoughts and opinions.
1. Every coach coaches! It is common knowledge that it happens ALL THE TIME. Why pick on Serena when her coach was coaching during a Grand Slam final? She was not even looking at her coach when he gave her a meaningless signal. Perhaps coaching should be allowed at the Grand Slams. It already is at regular WTA tour events.
2. A coaching violation should not be part of the Code of Conduct. A Player has no control over their coach and should not be penalized within the Code of Conduct for that infraction. If we want to stop coaching, fine the coach instead. I promise you that will make it stop.
3. The racket abuse penalty was merited, but should have been the first infraction. Serena would not have come unglued because no points would have been taking off. I have had points taken away during my career so I know what that emotion feels like. Hard to explain what it's like to feel like you are being penalized when you feel like you did nothing wrong. The heat of the moment creates very intense emotional reactions. I am with Serena on this one. I am not condoning bad behavior, but losing a game in this case was a bit extreme.
4. Male players constantly speak profanities to umpires and abuse them WAY more than Serena was without getting points taken away. Winning tennis matches is hard enough. We don't need to make it harder by taking points and games away from players. Can you imagine a football team having a touchdown taken back because a player showed too much emotion on the field?
5. In the same tournament, a Male referee got off his chair to help a male player who had come unglued (Kyrgios) helping him overcome his emotion to win a match AND a male referee takes a game away from a female player in a Grand Slam final, inserting himself in the result and perhaps questionalble, affecting the outcome of the match. It’s time to look at the system and start to consider replacing officials with the Hawkeye Line Calling System (already tested during the World Team Tennis season with no lines people and just the chair umpire). Could tennis be played without ANY officials in the future?
6. Receiving a game violation is a HUGE penalty! I would like to know how many times it has happened at the Grand Slams or Master Series events in both tours the past year. My guess would be NONE. Why Serena and why during a Grand Slam Final.
Serena is right... this would have never happened to a male player. For all we have done to “Come a long way, baby”, we still have a long way to go.