Brad Gilbert - Winning Ugly

brad-gilbert-winning-uglyBrad Gilbert is one of the top tennis coaches in the world, having helped players such as Andre Aggasi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray make it to the top of the professional game (d'you think if I change my name to Andrew he'll help me out too?). Actually he was a pretty good player in his day too; he was consistently in the top 10 and peaked at number 4 in the world at the beginning of 1990, which most people attribute more to his mental game rather than his ability to outplay his opponents with big shots! One way or another he managed to beat most of the big names of his era - John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras - so he must know a thing or two about how to play the game.

Play smart

In case you don't know, he wrote a book a few years back - Winning Ugly - filled with advice for recreational players like me on how to maximise your game and gain a winning advantage over your opponent by playing smarter. Sounds like just what I need, so I picked up a copy a couple of weeks ago and haven't been disappointed!

Who's doing what to whom?

Brad talks a lot about understanding what is happening out on the tennis court ("who's doing what to whom?") and trying to control proceedings so that you match your strengths up against your opponent's weaknesses, while at the same time preventing him from doing the same to you. He also stresses the importance of preparing mentally and physically for a match - having a definite plan for how you want to approach things.

I guess many recreational players aren't really too bothered about this mental aspect of tennis - they just want to go out there, hit a few balls, and let the chips fall where they may. But Brad's approach actually strikes a chord with me - I already have a similar preparatory approach to other stuff I'm involved with, so I reckon it won't be too difficult to apply this to my tennis game too.

Practical tips

Winning Ugly is also full of practical tips you can apply to give yourself a better chance of winning. For example, if your opponent's killing you with his serve, change where you stand to force him to do something different and/or to give yourself more time on the ball. He also gives some specific advice on tactics to beat different kinds of opponent - the Serve-volleyer, the dreaded Retriever who gets everything back, etc. I play one of those quite regularly - he beats me regularly by pushing soft little "nothing" shots back at me all day long, and waits for me to self-destruct. I can't wait to try out some of Brad's advice on him!

Anyhow, I haven't finished reading it yet, but this book has just become my tennis bible. If you haven't read it, I definitely recommend you get hold of a copy. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

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