I'm a 14 year old intermediate-advanced player who plays mostly singles. I know all the shots and I am pretty consistent but one thing i have problems with is focusing. I've had many people in tournaments tell me that i could have won many games if i had just focused. Are there any tips that would help me focus on the game? When i don't focus, i make a lot of unforced errors which causes me to lose. Any tips or advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
How do other people (and yourself) know that "focus" is the cause of your unforced errors? Patience could also be a cause. Being impatient could push one to play shots that don't belong to them (too long, too tight, too wide, too low etc).
If you make a bad miss, does it play on your mind, causing you to make more errors? I've known juniors to throw 10 points in a row that way. If I've made some errors, I accept that I'm not perfect & that the next rally is a 'new' rally.
You also say that you're missing 'easy' shots. It could be that you're not respecting the shot enough, therefore not taking enough care. I know net shots are boring and most people would rather be smashing. However, realize what a good net shot does for you & that it'll enable you to do the fun shots.
It could also be that you're putting too much pressure on yourself. Things like "this is a half-court smash, I should hit a winner here". Trying too hard on any shot ruins consistency. Think of your opposition's loose shots as opportunities, rather than imperatives.
Its just because they are really easy shots i have no trouble doing in practice, but when i play a game everything goes out the window.
playing a game is totally different than hitting drills. your mentality is totally different with different expectations. as long as you think you've tried your best to focus, it is fine. i believe you just need more experience playing in tournaments and if you remind yourself to focus, that's pretty much all you can do. mental toughness comes from playing more tournaments and gaining more experience. why? because only a tournament will be able to provide you with the stress and pressure, and not some hitting drill. keep working hard, and you will get better!!!
Many drills are unrealistic, in the sense that they don't replicate the situations encountered during a game. This could be because the drill is too predictable (so footwork goes out the window); because the drill is too easy (playing shots under ideal conditions only); or even because the shots are played to look "pretty" rather than to be effective.
For example, drop shots look pretty when they are played extremely tight to front. In a drop shot drill this looks great. But in a game, these very slow drop shots typically give your opponent too much time.
Designing good drills is a skill. Good drills are tailored to the current needs of the player.
This sounds quite similar to myself as a junior, people I could easily beat in practice matches would take me right to line or even beat me in tournaments because mistakes i would never make in a practice match would all of a sudden creep into my game. This would demoralise me further making it worse. I don't know if it was nerves or putting myself under too much pressure or what but the situation wasn't really improving.
What worked for me was, in game, focussing purely on seeing the shot with minds eye as i was preparing for, and hitting the shot.
Line & Length is absolutely right, your thought shouldn't be, 'this easy smash down the line should win me the point' or 'this backhand i am having to play from behind me will give my opponent an opportunity to win the rally' because these include factors that are out with your control. All you can think is 'this smash will land 2 inches inside the side line' or this 'backhand drop will land 5 inches in front of the service line'. Try to actually see the shuttle landing in that spot in your head. It will help you stay in the moment and most importantly should stop any negative thoughts creeping in.
I'm not saying this will work for you but it helped me turn a corner, good luck, i empathise with your postion!