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

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  1,519 Ratings  ·  114 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 t
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 31st 1994 by Touchstone (first published 1993)
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Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
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
It helped my game by a long shot
Riccardo Duca
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
My four stars is an average between two main points I found in this book. First the positive one. I find the part of playing strategy very complete and exhaustive. Brad tries to give tips about how to play against several kinds of club players you might encounter (retrievers, pushers, weak service...). These tips are very concrete, really he guide you though the shoots you can produce to win the point.
I find beautiful the part of set up points, like 30-..., 4-... About this, you rarely are instr
Jan Lapp
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Winning Ugly is the best tennis book out there. It taught great strategies before, during, and after matches. The book taught me lots of great things which actually improved my game. It taught me the accurate stretches before a match. This book was an informational genre book. Usually, books from this genre are boring and I never read them. This one was the best one so far it taught me in-game strategies that I used to improve my game and won more matches. If you want to improve your tennis game ...more
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Shelves: audio-book
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
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.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
A good book. Maybe even better if you play tennis. I do not.
What Brad writes about though is true for investing, all sports, and much of life. Don't shoot yourself in the foot. Know your strengths and weaknesses and when to use one or avoid the other. Pay attention and write things down.
Edwin Van Leeuwen
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nuttig en handig!
Max Rose
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A masterclass in the mental game from one of tennis' great coaches
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Most practical book on tennis.
Fausto Filipponi
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
wounderful book, because it's focus in everything is important for a tennis player
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.
Rob Bell
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Top mental game book...
Nathan Leslie
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Best how-to book ever about how to play smart, winning tennis. Works for beginners and even advanced players. Gilbert is the man!
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
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
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
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
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
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
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
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
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