What Should You Focus on in Tennis?
Prior to a tennis match, are you fearful of losing?
Do your emotions get out of control when you make an error on the court?
For example, when you walk out on the court for a match and you immediately start feel jittery… Your mind is cluttered with thoughts such as:
“If I lose, what will my coach think, what will my parents say.”
You place so much pressure on yourself to play the perfect match that when you make some mistakes, you beat yourself up mentally and can’t recover…
When you define yourself by win and loses, it becomes practically impossible to focus on the process of just playing–and have fun.
Your thoughts distract you from focusing on the present point.
Your fear of failing becomes overwhelming and mistakes become disastrous events.
You feel so anxious while playing that you can’t seem to play loose like you do in practice.
I interviewed tennis expert Jeff Greenwald in regards to focusing on the process in order to play tennis at your peak.
Greenwald is a peak performance consultant and licensed psychotherapist.
Greenwald was ranked #1 in the world by the ITF and #1 in the U.S in singles and doubles in the men’s 35-age division in 2002.
COHN: “How would you describe your philosophy of Sport Psychology?”
GREENWALD: “Over the years, I have become really passionate about how to balance the incredible outcome nature of sports towards winning, what we get out of winning without getting rid of it.
What I try to do is to [have athletes] balance the process with the outcome and the joy of winning…
To really get excited about practicing and setting goals that are realistic and holding themselves accountable week to week…
Training themselves to know what it’s like to get loose, using routines before they play and getting absorbed into the whole thing about competition not just ‘I got to win, if I beat this guy, I’m ranked here and my parents will be happy.’
In fact, when you get absorbed in the process, you’ll win more. So, it’s a total win-win scenario when they recognize they have control over certain things but not on the outcome.”
COHN: “What are the major challenges [for tennis players]?”
GREENWALD: “If I were to highlight the two symptoms that emerge, I would say performance anxiety (not playing as loosely in big matches to the extent they are in practice) and frustration management (being able to handle mistakes, winning and losing) are the main issues.
And the focusing stuff is often the cause of some of those issues where the mind is focused on irrelevant things while they’re playing.”
Try these tips to become process-oriented:
- Tip #1: Let your sport be your sport. Play for yourself. Rediscover why you like playing tennis in the first place.
- Tip #2: Take your practice game to matches. Examine the mindset that keeps you playing loose in practice and transfer that to match situations.
– For Peaksports Members: Listen to and download the full interview with Jeff Greenwald in the Peaksports Member Network: Peaksports Member Network
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