Games are Won Before Playing
Yeah, because I think the real psychology is useful to a tennis player, but has the disadvantage of being sometimes distant from the events in court. Psychology that is useful to a tennis player is rooted in their real life experience: it is in real life where the solutions and methods to approach the problem can be found.
Below you will find a question and my answer to this issue:
”Hello Max I was winning 5-0 with a weaker player than me. At some point my opponent started playing slightly more aggressively, and then a negative thought went through my head, that is that I had to work a little more. I won the first set 6-3, but I lost my confidence and my strokes were less precise. I lost the third set. Could you please tell me what I should have done?
Thank you in advance.
As I recently told one of my students (who luckily won the third set) the first thing you always need to have is clear mind, It is because in tennis you play 3 sets and you always have to be mentally ready to work hard and play three sets from the beginning.
What I wrote in response to the comment of the reader is one of “the empowering thoughts” which basically convey the message that each of us may have to do their best when playing a tennis match.
What is a potentiating thought?
In my opinion, management of our thoughts before a tennis match is the basic activity to influence our performance.
Just before entering the field, everyone will definitely feel a bit of “stage fright”, it is natural (even Federer and Nadal experience it) and it would be highly counter-productive not to feel any type of tension before a challenge. This would make us start the match already relaxed.
In such moments many thoughts can go through your head…
Be careful not to allow your thoughts to “stroll around” your heads!
In fact, the thoughts that go through your head in these delicate moments can have immense power, which can be positive (then they will be empowering for your future performance), or they can create you a lot of problems during the match (then they will be disempowering).
One potentiating thought is a concept that helps us to improve the game of tennis we play!
Therefore recognizing and addressing the thoughts that are most useful for our performance is fundamental, if you want to have do your best so that our mind plays FOR us, not AGAINST us.
Leveraging the strength of empowering thoughts
Once you understand the most useful attitudes for the purposes of our performance, we must go on to “train” our mind to think in a certain way rather than another.
The process is almost identical to the one we use to learn a stroke: in the beginning we must try and repeat, repeat, and repeat ….finally, at some point the force decreases to be replaced by learned, precise movements.
The same thing happens with the thoughts, because we have to create the habit of thinking that “brings us closer to victory” rather than other ones that keep us away from our goal. We have to create this habit on our own, there is no guru or gurus who can help us.
Identify empowering thoughts that you might find helpful, especially during the difficult phases of the match.
Let me give you some examples: – The game lasts 3 sets and I am ready to play it as long as necessary – I missed this point (game or set), but the game is still long and I’m willing to play it to the end – The game becomes difficult: I accept the challenge and see who is tougher … In general, I can say that, based on my experience, regardless of technique and tactics:
Being mentally prepared to fatigue, concentration and sacrifice all the time that is needed to win a match is the real meaning of empowering.
(Nadal should teach something .. .)
This habit of being “positively charged” should start already in a phase preceding a game that activates your mind, because the warm-up before a game should not only be physical and technically, but also mental.
An optimum mental warm-up must evoke positive and motivating emotions to make you ready for a battle.
Always take example from combat sports (boxing, karate etc..): but do not go there if you are mentally unprepared …. the pain is real. Tennis is a kind of sport of indirect combat, if you are not ready you will metaphorically get hit, but in the end … losing really hurts!