Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis--Lessons from a Master
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Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis--Lessons from a Master

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  614 ratings  ·  57 reviews
The tennis classic from Olympic gold medalist and ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert, now featuring a new introduction with tips drawn from the strategies of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Andy Murray, and more, to help you outthink and outplay your toughest opponents

A former Olympic medalist and now one of ESPN’s most respected analysts, Brad Gilbert sha...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 31st 1994 by Touchstone (first published 1993)
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Open by Andre AgassiRafa by Rafael NadalA Champion's Mind by Pete SamprasYou Cannot Be Serious by John McEnroeThe Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
Books on Tennis
11th out of 139 books — 81 voters
Open by Andre AgassiThe Outsider by Jimmy ConnorsWinning Ugly by Brad Gilbert
3rd out of 3 books — 1 voter

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Community Reviews

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Sean Peters
As a tennis player you would I would recommend this book, many people do, but I don't.

Brad Gilbert has the opinion that you win however, a lot of his advice in the book as be prepared is so obvious to any serious player.

But his ideas behind the way to win are want most coaches have done all their lives, teach your pupils to play the best they can, it is always hard to loose, yes it is, but his treatment and ideas I do not agree with , near to cheating.

I do not recommend this book
Apr 24, 2007 Rebecca rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: tennis players/people who want to win competitions at all costs?!
Not exactly a typical read for me and the book cover's as ugly as the title. Brad Gilbert's shaded mug and the yellow type face can make you feel a bit queasy after lunch. But should you be a competitive type who'd like to do better at tennis (on an amateur level) this is the book for you. And I love the insights and gossip into how he beat some of the greats and got McEnroe into a rage (not difficult I guess).
It helped my game by a long shot
Arjun Sharma
It was the third set of a crucial, mid-season match with the league leading Boston Latin Academy tennis team. Every year, the home team always seemed to find itself on the short end of the stick; but this year was different. I found myself battling on the hard court surface, chasing every well-hit ally-ball to closing out over-the-net smashes. The match-up on the first doubles court was an intriguing one between specially recruited high school players, and everyday players like myself and my par...more
While I was raiding Borders this week I saw this sitting on the shelf and knew I had to pick it up. I read Andre Agassi's biography earlier this year and from that I knew how Gilbert's approach to tennis improved Agassi's career. As I'm playing tennis a lot these days I thought surely Gilbert could help me as well!

I have not played a match since I've finished the book but I did play one while halfway through and I believe it helped. I had a plan going in to the match (hold my serve by getting my...more
Craig Wright
Winning Ugly is a book for tennis players by one of the great tennis players, except it is not stories about Brad Gilbert's greatest matches of favorite moments on tour. It is a book written to improve the mental component of any tennis players game. Gilbert is famous for not having very good strokes, but he was always able to find a way to win. This book has helped me think my way through many of my toughest and closest matches. The solutions are all simplistic, with multiple ways to help yours...more
Andrw Yang
Actually a pretty good book. He's certainly not a writer - but his style is conversational - as if he is coaching you directly. It was a pretty quick, fun read.

The tips are useful and intentionally not focused on stroke mechanics, the book is about the aspects of being competitive and winning games.

What was the most interesting part of the book for me though was his thought processes during specific matches he had with specific players (like Lendl, McEnroe, Connors, Agassi, Chang, Courier, etc.)...more
If you like tennis then this book is for you. Brad Gilbert is an expert when it comes to the mental side of tennis. In this book he gives many tips that can help your game. Plus, he shares a few stories of his own from back when he was playing on tour. At the end of the book there is an extra chapter written by Andre Agassi. Of course as a grand slam champion he has a few tips that can excel your game as well. I really enjoyed reading "Winning Ugly." Once I picked it up I just couldn't stop flip...more
Jerry Smith
Jul 17, 2008 Jerry Smith rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jerry by:
Shelves: sport
Something of a classic and specifically aimed at tennis - the lessons are great for me as a tennos player and it is full of useful insights, tips and stories of the tour. Since it came out in the early 90s the tour stories are a little old, talking as they do about Becker, McEnroe etc. The lessons are still very applicable and it is fascinating to read how Gilbert makes the most of his abilities, something we could all do.

Unlike the Inner Game of Tennis that has lessons that can be used in a wid...more
Good Book. Brad often caused opponents to self destruct. Brad Gilbert was one of the most strategic players during his time on the tour. Brad’s book emphasis’ the necessity of analyzing your opponent and exploiting their weakness. Getting inside you opponents head can definitely contribute to winning. He clearly explains in his book how he defeated opponents that were expected to easily beat him. Great book for tennis players and non tennis players may even take a helpful idea from the book in g...more
Alyson Hagy
I'm at a stage in my competitive tennis life where I can really use a book like WINNING UGLY. Much of Gilbert's advice is simple. But he is absolutely correct when he says (again and again) that good recreational players don't *think* enough when we play. I hope to spend the winter crafting a few "ugly" wins on the court--fewer unforced errors, more attention to simple tactics, and choosing to "receive" when I win the toss rather than to "serve." This book is a classic whose advice never gets ol...more
Brad Gilbert wasn't thought of as much of a tennis player, but he broke into the top ten. He beat McEnroe, Becker, Chang, Conners, and others. He didn't do this because he was the most talented, but he was mentally tough. He picked on his opponents weaknesses and made them play his game. I thought that this was a definite read for anyone wanting to take their tennis game to the next level. Agassi is a prime example of taking Gilbert's coaching to heart and jumping to number 1 in the world.
Brad Gilbert knows how to entertain so this is a fun read as far as tennis instruction books go. He is very opinionated, and that annoys me at times, but he offers a lot of good advice on how to improve your mental toughness during a match. If you are ultra-competitive and want to win matches above all else, then this would be an excellent read for you. If you are more of a "play just for the fun of it" type of player like me, then you could probably skip it.
Jonathan Edgington
Anyone who plays tennis (I do) and who wants to toughen up the mental side of their game (I did) should read this book. OBSERVER SPORTS MONTHLY called it "one of the best sports books ever" and I agree with them! Not only did it improve my game but it thoroughly entertained me. Brad Gilbert was a top player himself and subsequently coached a number of tennis stars including Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray. Read the book and start winning more matches!
Cyndee Hansen
I bought this book after a tough loss and feeling the need to strengthen my mental game. I couldn't put this book down. The names have changed (he discussed matches against Agassi, Connors, McEnroe, Sampras, etc.) but the importance of being tough mentally on the court never changes. Great insight and tips on playing against all types of players and styles. Self-serving at times, but still an excellent read.
I was frustrated with my tennis game and bought this and three other tennis books. Within a week, I won my first USTA match, so I consider it money well spent. Whether you want to play ugly or be able to identify mental tactics and steel yourself against them, this book is very helpful.
John Boettcher
Although he is pretty egotistical and self-promoting. This could be one of the most helpful books that has ever been written on the sport of tennis. This book has helped me win more matches than any coaching has ever done. It is worth the price of admission and more.
Paul Smith
Ok, I am not a great tennis player, but this is a great insight into sports psychology, and while it hasn't turned me into a world beater, it has made me think more about sport I play especially asking myself "what is my opponent doing to me, and what can I do about it?"
I was happy to find out that Brad was Andre's coach when I read "Open" recently. I would not get this book because of the writing, but I found Brad's take-no-prisoners approach refreshing. He had a lot of great pointers, and I will definitely read this again!
Lynette Hague
Found most of the information to be very helpful. I keep rereading this book about once a tennis season, and pick up some pointers that can I can apply to my game. I have found the section on "hidden ad points" to be too much for me to think about at this time.
Kate R.
Summer reading for my college tennis team... Overall an interesting read. It helped me understand the mental game of tennis, something I have struggled with in the past. I will definitely try to implement some of Brad Gilbert's tips and strategies this season.
I really enjoyed it. It was short and to the point, talking about how if you understand the mental aspect of tennis you can improve your game. After reading it I feel my game has gotten better and I would recommend it for all tennis players and athletes.
Jan 16, 2012 Joel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: tennis
did not know that much about Gilbert. I watched him play here in Lexington the year he had a great run at the US Open. I can see why he was one of the best coaches we have going in the US. Learned alot from this book. Got a new respect for his coaching.
Tim Pham
Nice book to read. However the title sent out a negative message as if a player can win by using street- smart tricks to win. The tennis game is not a game that you can win by using tricks. I like all the tips Gilbert has mentioned in his book.
I wouldn't read this book unless you want to get better at tennis, but if you do read it, you'll quickly see how to apply Gilbert's instruction to both your game and your life. It's not perfect, but best in class.
This book does a really good job of covering the mental aspect of playing tennis. I found a lot of good incite into some of the errors in my game and ways I can improve. I would recommend to any tennis player.
Smart book. Thoroughly enjoyed the lessons. Number 1: club players go for the winner when they're in trouble, and play it safe when they should go for winners.
Finally finished it. He has loads of great advice for tennis players and I read it over time so I could take it all in and try to apply some of it. Now I have the "ugly cry" when I lose!
This book has given me a few new things to try out on the tennis court.

Will rate in future based on whether I see any improvement in my game.

UPDATE: Didn't help at all. Oh well.
The title of the book sends out a negative vibe, however the inside is packed with all kinds of useful ways to take your tennis game to the next level. A really good read!! :)
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