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Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis--Lessons from a Master Paperback – May 31, 1994

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Frequently Bought Together

Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis--Lessons from a Master + The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance + The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance
Price for all three: $29.77

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (May 31, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067188400X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671884000
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"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)

"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 considered by experts to be among the world’s foremost tennis analysts. A former “Giant Killer” on the ATP Tour, his acute observations are now heard worldwide on ESPN.  Gilbert has coached Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, and Andy Murray among others. He lives in San Rafael, California, with his wife, Kim, and three children, Zach, Julian, and Zoe. Visit his website at

Steve Jamison collaborated with legendary UCLA coach John Wooden on the national bestseller Wooden on Leadership. He lives in San Francisco, California. Visit his website at

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Customer Reviews

The book is very easy to read.
In "Winning Ugly" you will learn how to analyze your opponent's game and develop a strategy for playing matches.
K J Foehr
Great book and helped me enormously with my tennis game!!!!!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 69 people found the following review helpful By G. R. Parker on November 9, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Winning at a tournament and league level is dictated by mental and physical conditioning, not shotmaking. This book tackles the mental aspect, giving tips on how to think about each point with winning (not shotmaking) in mind. It helps you deconstruct your opponents' game, as well as your own, so that you just plain win. Plus, having read this book and using it will give you a mental confidence.
I keep it in my tennis bag, not to read during changeovers, but to remind me that I'm there to win. It's that simple. Another reviewer noted that INNER TENNIS is the theoretic, while WINNING UGLY is the downright practical.
Or instead you can just go buy yet another book that shows you a different way to hit your forehand volley. It's your pick. Gilbert's a winner, and the book is engaging reading as well.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By John on September 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Winning Ugly is a great book on how to gain the advantage in a tennis match in ways other than perfecting your strokes or training into world-class shape. The book is divided into three sections. The first is on preparing for a match and gaining an edge before the match even begins. Gilbert goes through planning, equipment preparation, stretching, overcoming nervousness, and how to mentally prepare to win the first few games. Some things in the chapters on equipment and stretching may be a little elementary but are nonetheless good tennis knowledge. The next section is on strategizing during your match and recognizing critical points. The last section is on developing a good mental game. Throughout the book, Gilbert uses examples from his own career and analyzes other players. These illustrations are perhaps the most valuable aspects of the book. Written in the early nineties, Winning Ugly talks about the top level pros of its time. The concepts, however, will never become outdated. The book is very easy to read. The reader gets a feel for Gilbert's analytical approach to playing tennis and can use it as an example for his own game. In one chapter, Gilbert goes into how to deal with certain types of players. It would have been nice if there was more of this, but overall, Winning Ugly is a great book and will help improve anyone's game.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By S. Johnson on March 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
I could never break past the round of 16's or quarters at any big tournament. I'll summarize how to win those matches now: get in great physical shape, apply the principles of Winning Ugly, visualization, and embracing/enjoying close matches with your best effort rather than choking.

Another title of this book might be "Helping your opponent make mistakes and lose". For the majority of us, especially at the club level, we dont have the skillset to win by hitting winners. We just need to play percentage tennis, and help our opponents lose. Its only at the very highest levels of the game that winners are sometimes greater than unforced errors. Only at the top fo the game where two guys can trade winner after winner, hit stuff around the net and between their legs. Unless one is a naturally gifted tennis player (Federer) Winning Ugly is for the rest of us. And its a lot more than just hitting to a guys bad backhand.

To Champions, a lot of this comes naturally. But it CAN be learned. Once in my life, I got in the zone. I could not miss. My dad still talks about that set! I'm so happy he was there to see it. I took a set off a guy who was ranked #3 in the US, and as I was marvelling at the crowd forming to watch me, and calculating the rise in my ranking, he mopped the floor with me 0 and 1. If I'd had Winning Ugly, I might have kept my head in the game and won that match.

I remember this guy in my Sectionals, who was the dorkiest guy on the junior tour, but always in the top 5 seeds. He wasnt in great shape. He actually had a tether! built into his grip for his unorthodox two handed forehand, and thick coke bottle glasses.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Future Tennis Star on September 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
While I have enjoyed reading many books in the past, the book I am currently reading, Winning Ugly, has been especially enjoyable for me. It has been good not only because of the fact that it is on the subject of improvement on my favorite sport, tennis, but also because it has many lessons that apply to life off the court. It is very amusing because of the examples he uses, that often have John McEnroe at the butt of a joke.

The author of Winning Ugly, Brad Gilbert, has a great writing style. I think part of the reason that I enjoy this book so much is because of how he makes points by explaining how he has actually used what he talks about against players like Jimmy Conners, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, and Andre Agassi. It's not a book about the basics of tennis, or how to hit the ball and such, it's a book about the mental aspect of the game, or as he describes it, playing smart. One of the first points he makes is how important it is to stay focused. He talks about how throughout his whole professional career he was playing and beating many players, who, on paper, should have won. The main reason he was able to beat so many players who had a "better game" (i.e. more powerful, cleaner shots) was because of simply making observations, and changing his plans accordingly. A great example of this would be many of his matches against Becker. He realized that in a contest of who could hit the ball harder Becker would win, hands down. So he changed his strategy, instead of hitting the ball as hard as he could, like most players would, he went for shots that didn't generate much power, making Becker hit a shot he isn't comfortable with, and giving him an edge.
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