(10 customer reviews)

Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis

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Winning Ugly

Winning Ugly explains Brad’s formula for a winning tennis game. He understands the mental part of tennis better than anyone I have ever met. Brad helped me improve my game and I believe he can improve yours.” — Andre Agassi

Olympic Gold Medalist and ESPN Analyst Brad Gilbert share his tactics for success in this Tennis Classic. When faced with tough competitors, he recommends using strategies from other top players including Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Andy Murray – even yourself!

Former Olympic gold medalist and now one of ESPN’s most respected tennis commentators, Brad Gilbert offers his timeless tricks and tips to help both recreational and pro tennis players improve their game.

In the revised introduction of this third edition, Gilbert analyses current stars such as Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal. He illustrates to readers how to beat better players without playing better tennis.

Written with wit and clarity, this well-known combat manual for the tennis court has become the bible of tennis instruction books for many players worldwide.

“Priceless for tennis players of all levels.” — Chris Fowler, ESPN

Winning Ugly is great. These are pro tactics that will improve a recreational player’s game fast. Winning Ugly teaches how to play better tennis and is very entertaining.” — Pete Sampras

Winning Ugly is a totally new approach to getting more out of your tennis game. I wish it had been around when I was learning how to play.” — Jim Courier


About the Author

Brad Gilbert is one of the most well-known and qualified analysts in the tennis industry today. A former ‘Giant Killer’ on the ATP Tour, he communicates his unique insights from both personal experiences as well as from broadcasting for ESPN. He has coached many players including Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, and Andy Murray. In addition to broadcasting for ESPN, he also coaches privately; it was through coaching that he met his wife Kim with whom he has three children – Zachary, Julian, and Zoey – who live in Marin County along with him.

Steve Jamison has collaborated with many different world-class coaches throughout his journey such as John Wooden. As a result, he was able to produce an insightful book about leadership called Wooden on Leadership. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he continues to grow and learn from all of these amazing experiences that have shaped him.


Specifications of Winning Ugly

  • Number of Pages: 208 Pages
  • Date of Publication: February 17, 1993
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • Idiom: English

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10 reviews for Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis

  1. Dmesra

    I originally bought this books a few years back. I had mentioned it to my friend at time who said it was a waste of time to read it and I should just play my own game. Mind you this is the same guy that beats me evertime we play. Well I decided to purchase the kindle and audio version a few weeks back. I must say, I should have read this book years ago. I never really took into account the mental part of the game. I was a grinder and just pounded away on the courts and hope I would win. I now look at my opponents in a whole different light now. I play the mental game more than the physical. I now keep a notebook and make notes on my opponants. This book is must read. The irony of all this is that opponent that told me not to read the book was playing the mental game. Turns out he had read it and did not want me to get any advantage from reading the book. Let’s just say after reading the book I have beat him on a number of occasions now.

  2. TG

    It is so rare to find this kind of clear analysis; I have read this book many times over. I compete in a different sport, but everything in here is fantastic and immediately useful for pre-tournament prep and strategy during matches. The mental game is so important in any sport; this gives really specific and solid tips, so much that now I take my copy to every tournament and read it again the night before. I had the original book and sadly, loaned it to someone who never returned it; never mind, it gave me an excuse to get the new edition. It has given me, a lifelong tournament competitor, a completely different approach to my practice and tournaments. It’s not another book full of useless generalizations on positive thinking; it has specific strategies for specific situations, and how to analyze yourself as much as your opponent. I think competitors in any sport would benefit from the advice in this book. THANK YOU!

  3. Amazon Customer

    I play tennis for more than 20 years now, (I am 38 years old now) and always push myself in playing with nice and clean shots, very physically involved, trying to get to every ball and hit big. The result of that match did not matter too much as developing my game was the first priority. It is an approach which I carried with me until today, however ignoring the FACTS that in the last 10 years I gained over 15 kg (30 pounds) of fat, lost my conditioning, played very few times/season (here the season to play on clay lasts about 6-7 months), so my desire to play like in the old times did not help me too much anymore. More than this, I could not accept so easy to lose to my usual partner and my lousy game made it even worse to accept to lose.Brad’s books helped me a lot by calibrating my mind so it could manage the actual conditions of my body and my abilities, and not playing with the mind hooked on my past.I was also very frustrated not being able to hit big like in the past, not reaching the Zone so often (or not reaching it at all) and after reading the book I reset my expectations and adjust them to my actual conditions, e.g. not trying to serve big in the first 2 games when I serve, trying to hit long shots during the warm up and taking my hits in the pit stop during the game. This book will teach you in a funny way how to play smart with what you have.Above all, this book and the other Brad’s book (I have got your back) gave a boost to my motivation to lose weight and be in better shape to start playing smarter tennis, and yes winning matters.

  4. H. Ruiz

    I’m a 6.0 player and here’s my story with winning ugly.For some time I used to have very good strokes and a very solid constructed game that would normally destroy anyone in my league or even higher, yet it didn’t. Instead, I kept struggling with my matches, especially against players ranked lower than me. Sometimes I’d barely win and sometimes I’d lose like an idiot. Regardless of the result, most of the time I would: first blame my strokes, then blame my lack in physical preparation and lastly I would blame my point preparation. Bottom line was, my mind and mental preparation weren’t considered or blamed for my results. Then one day I watched this Chris Evert interview on the tube and she was saying how grateful she would have been if “Winning Ugly” had been available for her when she was a student learning. This puzzled me, as Chris Evert eventually had over 90% of winning percentage through her career. Then Mary Carillo -the interviewer- agreed and said something about the book helping players who struggled with results. I felt related to what I had just heard and decided to buy the book.So what happened next was a dramatic change in my game over the next months.The first thing Brad made me realize was that I had been struggling because of my mental preparation and approach to the game, not because of my beautiful shots. Then I realized an epitome that has been sealed in my brain: in order to win matches, I had to use my mind first, then my strokes.To be fair and honest, the initial results were mixed. It was hard to stop playing “hitting big” tennis and start playing “percentage” tennis -or as Brad calls it, “winning ugly”. It was hard to play a 30-15 differently than a 40-0; I was used to normally play both points the same. Now, I do play a 30-15 way different than a 40-0. After about two, three months I started seeing results. This guy I used to play against, who was actually quite even with me… all of a sudden I started to beat him. Badly and soundly. I kept using my strokes, only this time I was doing it smarter.That’s the result Brad’s book can do for you.The book is about strategy and mental approach to a tennis match. It states several key moments during a match and how to prepare for them, so that you are ready when they come -because yes, they will come-. I personally like this down to Earth phrase from the book: “there are people who play just for fun and don’t care of winning or losing, but isn’t it more fun winning?”As other reviewers have stated, Gilbert uses examples from his career to prove his points and the majority of the time he does it pretty well. However sometimes the stories go a bit over abroad and sound more like “the Gilbert miracle” rather than a chapter of Winning Ugly… but it’s only by a bit -it may bother some people though-. I think it would have been interesting if Brad would have included at least a couple of examples from players not being him or his pupil Agassi.There is also a hidden lesson not from Gilbert and it’s Ivan Lendl’s. I gained much more admiration for Ivan knowing his methods and how and why he employed them. I actually adopted some of his strategies, because they prove incredibly useful against most opponents. I even used the “hey Mr referee, can you please tell my opponent to not take much time during serves” gag.Summarizing, Winning Ugly is a valuable -perhaps the most valuable- mental asset a tennis player can have. I recommend it to every player who is into tennis and has a true competitive nature.

  5. Lubos Pochman

    Incredibly insightful from one of the best tennis mind. It changed my way of watching and playing tennis, thanks Beej

  6. P. S. Sinicrope

    I just finished reading the books and have already started applying the lessons to my play…and it is working. Gilbert covers multiple aspects of the game from how to prepare for competition before you’re even near a court to how to pack your bag to how to handle multiple situations while playing and maximize your strengths and capitalize on their weaknesses. I especially enjoyed the tips on how to change up the game when you are behind, keep focused under distraction, and deal with hookers, turtles, and pushers. I am currently a 3.0 tennis player so have allot learn from a club pro, but even so, his advice has already improved my play. In particular, I am better now at return of serve, lobs, and remembering to “get the ball earlier.”The book was generally fun to read, well-written, and worth the time if you’re looking to improve your game. I could see how his advice could be extremely valuable for a high level player or young person with allot of talent but not allot of strategy. I played racquetball for many years and this advice could have helped out allot!!!!! Finally, I loved the advice for the over 35 player and am remembering profilactic ibuprofen and Tiger Balm.

  7. Sonny Laskin

    Awesome strategies for weekend recreational players like myself. Mandatory classic reading for all levels of tennis players to not only work on the physical aspects of your game but also the mental aspect to win your matches. I know I’ll never win Wimbledon but this book’s mental outlook, preparation and tactics helped me win my local tennis club’s 4.0 mens league. I have to thank a player like Brad who unfortunately didn’t have the talent to win grand slams and be a super star but had the mental toughness to outthink his opponents to the tune of 5 million some dollars won on the professional atp tour. Brad is a true master guru and coach. Let him coach you to improve your tactical game.

  8. RenoJupiter

    I’m a player 4.5 area but I tend to not think enough in a match. No plan, no analysis, just see what happens as long as my forehand doesn’t fail. There’s this guy many look up to and we play often. 8 out of 10 times he beats me but I did manage to win twice or at least grab a set or 2. I have the skill but not the thought process to win. Brad’s analytical approach is helping me figure out how I win when I do or why not. It’s fun to apply at club player level

  9. SF Designer

    [I’m an intermediate/avid tennis player.] This is a GREAT book. Gilbert is very matter-of-fact about how he was not a #1 player, but how by utilizing little tricks/techniques in both summing up his opponents and in being realistic about his own strengths/weaknesses — he was able to make his own mark on the world of professional tennis. He does have specific examples of his matches with some of the greats, which are interesting to read — but they’re not so much used as “the story of Gilbert” — but more as references for his suggestions on how to approach similar situations in the readers’ own personal matches. In this book, Gilbert talks about how one needs to take advantage of a myriad of smaller elements — which in sum, can actually give you the edge in the game. I read this book initially, but now will still pick it up regularly, just to read a chapter here and there, to remind myself of some of his strategies. I think about Gilbert’s advice regularly when I play — and I believe that it really can make a difference when utilized.

  10. J. C. S. I

    I started playing tennis at 33 years old. Get classes every week and really improved my technique and shots. I have played sports my whole live, so even though I started late in tennis, I manage to develop a descent style. However when it came to a match I always lose, sometimes with players I believe had worst technique than mine. I notice sometimes it took me up to a set (one I always lose) to get into the game, and then put some challenge in the second set.I started browsing the Internet for a book that could teach me strategy. I found “Winning Ugly”, read the reviews and bought it! Even tough I am only in the 3rd chapter I felt results already. Yesterday I played a neighbor I had played two times in the past and lost with scores of 0-6, 1-6 / 1-6, 3-6, as I learned from this book I started preparing for the game early in my way driving back home. I analyzed last two games and set an strategy. The result was me winning by score of 6-1, 7-6 (5). I felt like a million bucks after the game!!!The interesting part of it is that my game is exactly the same, so as my opponent’s game, but yesterday we played my way! I was able to impose my rhythm, my pace, and my shots… And it was all thanks to “Winning Ugly”. I totally recommend it to starters, or recreational players that do not see their game level reflected in the court when they have a match.It is an easy reading by the way.

5.00 average based on 10 reviews

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