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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,414 Ratings  ·  106 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 shares his ti
ebook, 224 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by Touchstone (first published 1993)
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Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an avid tennis player, Brad Gilbert's book has many helpful pointers. His ideas of preparation, focus, execution and adaptation can help a player of any level. I thoroughly enjoyed Brad's own personal accounts of battles with some of the game's greatest players of the time. It was remarkable to see how Brad's powers of observation helped coach Agassi and turnaround his career that was stuck in a rut, to helping him climb back to greatness! I'm happy to recommend this book to anyone for it's i ...more
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I remember the furore when this review came out and thought I'd turn to it having taken up tennis again recently and steadily gotten involved in more and more competitive matches. It's a bit like a training course in that one or two pearls of wisdom are to be derived but overall, it's a little disappointing and tame, even if the central tenet, that mental toughness can overcome a multitude of technical drawbacks is only too true.

Gilbert loves winding up the likes of John McEnroe and is a real c
Apr 24, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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).
Sean Peters
Feb 22, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike Harmon
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even beyond the tennis tips, I really enjoyed reading about how Gilbert approached players I grew up watching. It's fun to have a better understanding of what they were doing on the court. If Gilbert could Win Ugly on the Tour...maybe I can win a public courts match some day.
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It helped my game by a long shot
Jan Lapp
Brad Gilbert's book contains simple but excellent advice for club players and tips from the pros that can make a difference in tournament matches. I found useful reminders of basic equipment, warm-ups, strategies like never serving first, play at 65% but consistently at first, the importance of the first two games, what to do when you're behind and in front, how to use psychological strategies and guard against those used by the opponent. I was distracted by, and skimmed through, his frequent re ...more
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the book, it was a fun, easy and at time even informative read. Gave me a lot to think about and validated some of my own thoughts and experiences about this sport. The frustration is however is every time I am on the court now I keep telling myself - I have READ about this but what DID it say I need to do in this situation? haha great in theory - hard to use in practice. Also loved following up as a read with the YouTube videos of events mentioned in this book - great fun for those who ...more
Sally Sims
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quarter century later, Brad's concise advice is still relevant despite advances in rackets, shoes, and balls. Most of tennis is in the head, and this book helps sort out how to use the most of what you have, physically and mentally, to win. -Sally Ann Sims, Author of Halt at X: A North of Boston Novel
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good instructional book, and a great introduction to competitive tennis at the club level. It concentrates on the analytical side of the game. It's also a solid review for experienced players. Author Brad Gilbert looks beyond stroke technique, and concentrates on how to dissect match play. Audio version did the book justice.
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the last two months, I've read this book three times. There are so many good tips. The tools are immediately applicable, and it's changed my tennis game. I was always focused, but now I'm THINKING on the courts. Predicting.
This one has earned a permanent place in my tennis bag.
Edwin Van Leeuwen
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nuttig en handig!
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most practical book on tennis.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great advice

I’m not sure why I waited so long to read this book. It’s great read with solid advice that is easy to put in action.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brettlikesbooks
in honor of my singles match last night--it wasn't pretty, but it was a win!
fully fleshed out game plan for better, smarter tennis + mental preparation + the weapon of your mind + i underlined fully half of this book!

"Tennis begins off the court, continues through your pre-match regimen and into the match, and goes on after you've won (or lost) the final point."

"...if anyone ever accuses you of 'winning ugly' just say, 'Thank you. I've been working on it.'"

instagram book reviews @brettlikes
Arjun Sharma
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Left my kindle at work and I have been carrying this book around in my car for months. 2 hours of "watching" soccer practice, 2 hours of "watching" basketball tryouts and Winning Ugly was started and finished.

A how to win tennis book that has virtually no cross over appeal to anyone except tennis players. For that niche however it is a must and very quick read. Gilbert is funny and deprecating of his own talents and gives very real pointers on how to just win. Many great real world examples, p
Adrian Meleg
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Winning ugly is a playbook of how to succeed playing tennis through different methods. The book is all about mental toughness and how your mind is your most powerful asset. The author gives you multiply tips and scenarios of how to use the techniques. This book improves your tennis skill and your mental capabilities.

I did not like that the book was more of a facts and how to book opposed to a life story of one person. This book also didn't elaborate as in depth as I had hoped on the more import
Craig Wright
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-25
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
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stefy Demeter
This book was an interesting read, mainly because I knew about Brad from Andre Agassi's book.

I will give it 3.5 actually, because there were few things that I found quite hard to read and chapters where I got bored, even if I am very familiarized with the tennis area. This book is a good read for those that actually play tennis, of course that things changed since he wrote the book and tennis evolved, but it's awesome to see his perspective regarding some of the players, including Andre and Pete
Brad is a personality, and you can hear it in the pages. The book as a whole was entertaining, and there are enough tips in there that made me evaluate my own game. As a player who doesn't have any weapons myself, it was nice to hear that there is something I can work on - namely my mental game.

It's definitely a different take than Gallwey's Inner Game of Tennis, but the practical advice are already becoming things I'm implementing and will continue to work on. If it took Andre Agassi 5 months
May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the perfect mix between an informational book and a humorous book. It offered hundreds of tips and tricks if only the reader looked carefully enough, and while I cannot yet attest to their use, I can say that I cannot wait to try them out. Along the way, this book demonstrates many other aspects of tennis, including but not limited to: what equipment to carry, what strokes to use against what types of players, and how the different professional tennis players of today compare to each ot ...more
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a person tennis is my passion and I love the joys of getting better at the sport, so I wanted to get better and Winning Ugly was the perfect book, originally I found it on good reads searching for books and then my tennis coach deemed this book very good and very helpful for improving your game of tennis. This was a great book for learning how to use mentality in tennis to your advantage. I also think that this book really helped me learn about breaking down your matches and opponents mentall ...more
Andrw Yang
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.)
Jerry Smith
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports-and-cards
Whether you are an avid tennis pro or a person who must just be at the top of your mental game, this book is pretty amazing. Some of my take aways:

1) The start of a game happens before the game. Know what you're getting yourself into.
2) Warm-up shouldn't be lighter than actual play
3) Mental is everything.
4) Make your opponent play your game, not the other way around.
5) Identify weak spots
6) Lean into your weakness and overcome it.
7) A good opponent is doing this. they will play to your weakness
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Winning Ugly was a superb books about the little tips and strategies pro players use to play and win tennis matches. Brad Gilbert did a great job integrating facts while adding humor and sarcasm to make the book a real joy to read. The book analyzes many tennis legends and brings their winning strategies to paper. The one issue small issue that I had with the book was that the game has somewhat changed ever since Brad Gilbert played, so some of the advice he gave did not apply to tennis today. O ...more
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent hand book for winning at tennis. Brad Gilbert looks at the mental aspects of tennis and how to win at the mental game. This book has excellent techniques to help a player understand his/her own game, and his/her opponents game and to help the player make good choices before and during the match. What makes this book special though is Gilbert's examples of how he has used these strategies and techniques - with great success - on the pro tour. A must read for tennis players who are serio ...more
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