We all know that, as much as it is a physical game, tennis is really a mental game. And if you are not in the best mental place possible during a match, most likely you are going down. So when everything's going wrong on the court, how go you get positive? Oh, and since it's the middle of a match, how go you get positive fast? Here are 3 easy steps to follow that will get your head back in the game:
1. Be aware. The biggest part of gaining a positive attitude on the court is recognizing when you have a negative attitude. You know that negativity is not going to win you any points. So you need to be aware of what's going on in your head and, if it sounds anything like this – “What is wrong with me?” “I'm terrible!” “My partner must hate me!” “Why did I ever think I could play tennis?” “We're so going to lose this match!” – you need to be aware you're having those thoughts and realize they're not only not helping. They're actually hurting.
2. Forget about winning and losing. Play one point at a time. We've all heard that and we may even say it a lot during a match (I certainly do). But, honestly, you need to forget about the outcome of the match and focus on what's happening on the court right now. Even if the whole team is watching from the sidelines. Even if winning this match makes you club champ. Even if you've been wanting to kick this girl's butt since high school. So get your emotions out of the match. Stop projecting out to some future event that isn't happening yet – like how great it would be to win this match or how awful it would be to lose. Forget about the outcome. Just think about how to play the ball that's right in front of you at this very moment.
3. Look good. That's right – take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and then . . . just look good. Put a smile on your face and look happy, energetic, alert, and confident. Just acting positive and upbeat will make you feel much better and will bring you back from the brink of a mental breakdown. And it will keep from giving any encouragement to your opponent. Acting as if you're playing a great match and have no intention of giving up can often deflate the opponent who thought she had already destroyed you. It may even put enough doubt in her mind as to what's going on to send her over the edge.
I'm throwing in a bonus Step 4 if you're playing doubles:
4. Talk to your partner. Let her know what's going on in your head. If you have even a half decent partner, she will let you know that its not the end of the world right now and she hasn't thrown in the towel yet either. Communicating with your partner may be all you need to get some positive vibes going on the court.
© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved