Christine from “The Tennis Mind” is back for “The Tennis Mind – Part Three” to talk about several issues that are common with adult recreational tennis players.

Christine is a local league coordinator, a 4.0 rated player, and coaches players on the mental game of tennis.

In part three, we talk about doubles strategy and how to work with your partner to play better as a team. Some of Christine’s advice is:

  • Asking your partner what they need. While some partners like to be encouraged, others like silence. Some may ask for advice while others would be irritated if their partner tried to “coach” them.
  • Understanding what your partner’s personality is.
  • Figuring out what your partner responds to

It’s not necessary to ask them directly “what do you need?”. Often times people aren’t sure what makes them play better, but as doubles partners, try to work on figuring out how to work best with each other’s personalities. Ultimately, that’s what makes a successful partnership.

Make sure you listen to the first two episodes found here:

Below is a Transcript of Our Conversation

Speaker 1: 0:05

Hi, this is Carolyn and I’m here with Erin, and this is part three of our episode with Christine from the Tennis Mind about the mental game. If you haven’t listened to part one or part two, we hope you go back and listen. But here is part three.

Speaker 2: 0:19

The other thing that Christine said when we were talking about doubles and doubles partners that I thought was just so beneficial because I do play with a lot of different partners is that you should ask your partner what they need, Like when they’re doing bad. Do they want encouragement? Do they want you to be quiet? Do they want coaching? I’m not very sure. Very many people want coaching, but what do they need? And I had never really thought about that before.

Speaker 3: 0:45

Yeah, we all tend to do what we think, we what we like, and so I’ll have partners who you know. If I miss one ball, they’re like oh, that’s okay, you got it. You got it, and I’m like I know, I’m fine, I know, that sounds really air-kidding.Speaker 4: 1:01

I mean I’m a mental coach, I’m good and I don’t go out and say that so people a lot of people don’t know that. I’m kidding.

Speaker 3: 1:09

Yeah, I think, yeah, I’m fine, you know, and I appreciate their concern. But then I can tell that sometimes I feel like they’re getting in a panic if I miss several shots and it’s like, hey, I’m going to be okay. You know, I appreciate it, but stop. And then there’s other times when you know like a lot of people like to apologize oh, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I’m like you don’t need to apologize, you’re going to make mistakes, I’m going to make mistakes, bummer, it’s over. You know. So, understanding what people like. Like I have partners who are just like hey, get your act together, what’s the matter with you? I can say that to them and we’ll have a good laugh. If I say that to another partner, they’re going to cry, you know. So, just understanding. You don’t necessarily need to say well, what do you like, because sometimes people don’t know what they like, but just feeling, you know, as you get to know them, what are they responding to, what do they appreciate in a doubles team and what do they need when they’re on the court. So, yeah, I think that’s helpful to understand each other.

Speaker 4: 2:12

Sometimes it makes me nervous to make a plan with my partner, though, because, like I’ve heard from people, there’s this woman that we’ve had on before. She’s hilarious. I remember she had a partner that said, hey, that lady doesn’t like a slice, you know, over the net or whatever. And she was literally like I don’t think you understand, I can’t slice, you know. Like whatever it was. It was like her partner was giving advice in a very nice way, but her thought was like I don’t have that skill and so I worry about because she said that to me one time. I’m like, yeah, I worry about talking. You know, telling my partner, you know, try, hit to the backhand Probably what I do, and, carolyn, you’ve played with me enough to know this I’ll usually say like we’ll try a strategy, like let’s you know you’re gonna poach or I’m gonna serve here or whatever. And literally I always say, because we know our skill set, we’re not pros we always say the keyword is try. We’re gonna try to do this If it doesn’t work out. You know it’s not like I’m saying you have to make this move in order for us to win this point. It’s like let’s make a plan and see if it works out or not, if it does great, you know.

Speaker 3: 3:15

Well, and part of that that’s, and that’s great. I think that’s awesome because you never know, and a strategy could work for the first part of a match and then they adjust and now all of a sudden you need to find something else. So it’s about being flexible. But part of the fun of tennis is the challenge of the mental game of figuring out what works. And, you know, the matches that we feel most fulfilled with are the ones that we, we really fight for. You know, the ones that you win easily are fun, but they’re not very memorable. I had that experience earlier this spring. You know, since I’m new here, I was playing with someone new every single match and I didn’t know my opponent, so I really didn’t know much of anything about the, the community. And she, she said, hey, you know, a slice might be good here, and I’m like, oh, I don’t slice. And so I just told her that and I said, you know it’s, my slices are more accidental than not and I can slice, but it’s not my go to. And I wasn’t comfortable in that moment and so I just said, you know, and it was fine, it was. I didn’t take anything to mean like, oh no, I don’t have a slice on terrible. I can’t do it. It was like, oh no, we’re going to have to do something else because that’s not. That’s not. We’re comfortable right now in this match and it was totally fine. We, you know, I don’t remember what we did, but we ended up winning.

Speaker 4: 4:30

She beat me. That’s what she did. It was our match and she didn’t have a slice and she didn’t need it. No, but that was such a fun match. I did love that match.

Speaker 3: 4:40

It’s always fun to play.

Speaker 2: 4:43

Yeah, I have one more thing that Christine said that I thought was really beneficial, and maybe beneficial to the audience too, is that I told you that I had played a match and I was really tired. So I walked on to the court thinking I’m really tired and I even got up in that match too, but the entire time I was thinking, please let this match be over. I’m really really tired because I hadn’t slept the night before, and I thought it was really good that you said to me, like go in, accept it, don’t try to fight it the entire match. That you’re tired? Yes, you are tired. What strategy am I going to use because I know that I’m tired. I thought that was really helpful and it happened again where I walked into a match with that kind of mentality because I hadn’t slept the night before, and it was very helpful.

Speaker 3: 5:31

That’s wonderful. I was curious to see what I’d said because I had no idea, I couldn’t remember. And yeah, it’s sometimes you’re going to show up and you know that you’re not your best. You know I’ve been sick recently and so I had to play a match and I knew I, you know I’ve been physically weak and fatigued and I knew I was going in and I was going to feel fatigue and I did, and I just tried to show up and play with him myself and wasn’t trying to do killer first serves or go for all these crazy shots. It was just play within yourself when you can, when you know that there’s some sort of struggle whether you know you maybe going through a hard time personally and that’s heavy on your mind, or you know you didn’t get a lot of sleep or you’re feeling fatigued or you’ve been ill or whatever Having grace and compassion for yourself. That goes a long way instead of beating yourself up for oh, I’m so tired and I should be playing better. It’s never helpful for you or your partner, you know, whether you’re yelling at them or yelling at yourself, no one ever likes that, so so I’m glad that was helpful for you, carolyn.

Speaker 4: 6:36

It was. It was. I’ve met so many players that I feel like, well, first of all, a lot of us are Type A, a lot of us are, we are in an adult competitive situation, right so but I also feel like so many people put their self worth in their game and I just, I just can’t even think that way because there’s so many other things to worry about. It really for me, I know I’m like sunshine and rainbows, but it really is my outlet and sometimes and you and I talked about this I feel like sometimes I am so happy to be out there and understand where I am in my life and I look up at the sky and there’s blue sky and I’m outside playing tennis and I feel so lucky and privileged to be doing that. But then sometimes I’m like I have to get a killer instinct Now. I have to, like, you know, enjoy all that but then still, like, win, you know, a match. But so many people, I think, quit tennis. You know, really do quit tennis because they aren’t finding joy in it anymore, because they’ve put so much of their own self worth in it, which I don’t want to say. That’s silly, because a lot of people do feel that way and that’s justified. But I think people would benefit from coaching from you to realize that it’s not like it does not make your life one way or the other. It is simply in that moment of playing a sport that hopefully you enjoy.

Speaker 3: 7:53

That was probably the biggest hurdle that I had to overcome is, growing up with a very, very athletic father, I always felt like, okay, I’ve got to be the best athlete and then I’ll be loved. And it was just the pressure I put on myself as a kid and so even though I excelled, even if I was the best, it was still never quite good enough. And so I and that carried into tennis and I didn’t even start tennis till my mid 30s and so I had already kind of done all my competitive sports and this was going to be the fun sport that I did and started off and was pretty successful early on because I started as a two five and grew to a four O pretty quickly. And then suddenly I wasn’t winning like I was used to and I put all this pressure on myself and it was like I’m not worthy. And you know, one big thing that I felt so much heaviness about in my tennis was if I don’t win, people aren’t going to like me, and and it’s I really had to battle that that was one of my biggest coaching hurdles that I had to get over of. Hey, you know what, if people don’t like me because I’m not winning, that first of all, they’re not worth it, don’t worry. But it’s hard to get out of that. You still want. You want people to like you. You wanna be invited to teams and enjoy the experience, and I think for me, overcoming that has been the number one thing of why I enjoy all my tennis matches now, even when I’m getting beaten up, you know, and I’m not saying they’re all super pleasant, but I can enjoy every experience, no matter what, because I know it doesn’t mean anything about me. I truly, absolutely know that now and I did have a little dip. When I first moved here and I started playing in January, february, a whole different group I’d been with my group of four ladies in Austin, texas, for you know, however long, 10, 15 years. I knew everybody and we all kind of, you know, knew where we fit. Well, here I am, coming to this new community. I have no idea where I fit in. I don’t know, you know how the experience is gonna go for me. And then I have new partners. Every single time I’m playing, new opponents. I don’t know anything about any of them and so I started to feel like, oh no, if I don’t win, are people gonna be interested in getting to know me. Are they gonna like me? Are the? And I started to fall into that trap again and I thought that’s silly. You know I can go out there and be a pleasant person and make friends, and I’ll tell you what. This has been the easiest transition moving here. I have made more friends so fast just because of tennis and it’s just because I have chosen to go out there. Not make it mean anything about me. Enjoy my experience, try and be a reasonably pleasant person on the court and laugh and have fun and wow, I mean I am just loving it. Now I’m almost playing too much because I am getting old and so I’ve gotta kind of temper it a little bit. So but not taking yourself so seriously and not depending on the win or the loss to determine your self-worth is huge, and that I know so well because I fought so many years and battling that in my brain.

Speaker 1: 11:02

We really appreciate Christine coming on the podcast and we’ve included her contact information and her show notes. Thanks so much for listening and hope to see you on the courts soon.