Osaka’s Inner Peace Helps Her Win Australian Open
Do your emotions rage out of control during tennis matches?
Do you find it difficult to play well when you’re upset or frustrated?
Frustration, anger, resignation, sadness and anxiety are normal emotions. People experience these emotions in everyday life.
For example, being stuck in traffic and knowing you are going to be late for an appointment is frustrating and can boil over into anger and anxiety.
In tennis, there are times when these emotions will pop up and an emotional response is normal, within certain limits…
A string of double faults can be frustrating especially when your serve is the strength of your game…
A few bad line calls from an opponent can generate anger particularly when you see a set slipping away…
Being dominated by a lower ranked opponent in the biggest tournament of the year can create feelings of sadness even before the match has finished.
You are not alone in experiencing these emotions. If you polled the Top 100 tennis players in the world, all would admit to experiencing these emotions at various times in their careers.
Emotions are normal.
So when do these emotions become problematic for tennis players?
First, players think they should be able to control their emotions or stop emotions from happening.
Since emotions are normal, when an athlete experiences a bit of frustration or anger, they believe they failed in their attempt to “control” their emotions or see themselves as mentally weak.
Secondly, some players have not learned to manage their emotions during matches. Without strong mental skills, a little frustration can escalate into a raging storm of negative emotions.
These strong negative emotions become a major distraction and cut off a player’s focus from what they need to do during a match to win points.
The key to dealing with emotions is not to try to control those emotions but to manage those emotions during matches.
Managing emotions requires that you learn how to be the director of your emotions. Certain emotions help your play while other emotions detract from your performance.
Twenty-one year-old Naomi Osaka has set out to work on her ability to manage her emotions during matches.
After winning the 2018 US Open, Osaka played in several tournaments where she displayed visible signs of intense irritation, frustration and anger which hurt her performance.
After the 2019 Brisbane International, Osaka admitted that she has difficulty managing emotions at times.
OSAKA: “I feel like I didn’t really know how to cope with not playing well.”
So, Osaka worked on managing her emotions so she could be better equipped to focus on her game. And the result… winning the 2019 Australian Open.
OSAKA: “During US Open, I didn’t show any emotions most of the time. But then after that, I did show — well, in my opinion, it was a lot of emotions. I got upset, and then I threw my racket or stuff like that. And, for me, I don’t really want to do that. I feel like I play better when I’m calm. There is an inner peace I can tap into sometimes during my matches. So that’s just something that I’m trying to learn how to do consistently.”
You cannot eliminate emotions during a tennis match but you can learn to manage those emotions better and play more consistency.
…But, first, you must be all in on developing a strong mental game.
How to Cope With Emotions During a Match:
1. Be aware of your hot buttons (triggers) or what gets you upset during a match, such as a bad line call or missing a routine short ball into the net.
2. Have a prepared strategy to help you cope for each trigger, such as deep breathing, relaxation cues, refocusing strategies, mental time-outs, etc.
3. Practice your prepared strategy for letting go of mistakes or mishaps in your regular training. Visualize yourself getting upset and finding your inner peace as you refocus on the next point or game.
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Are you (or your players) performing up to your ability in competition?
Do you bring your best and most confident game to matches?
I often hear players complain about the following problems when they play in matches…
“I get so tight or tense before matches that I can’t think straight or have any rhythm in my game.”
“I get so frustrated with hitting bad shots or with errors and it snowballs.”
“I expect so much when I play that I unravel and lose confidence when the match does not go as planned.”
“My confidence seems to disappear when I go from practice to matches and I don’t know why.”
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Discover if you are making one or more of these “costly” unforced mental game errors during matches!
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- How your mind can be your best or worst asset on the court.
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Click here to download your FREE report today: Six Unforced ‘Mental Game’ Errors Tennis Players Make Between Points