How to Focus Well Under Match Pressure
Tennis players know that focus is important to playing the game. The one-point-at-a-time mantra is chanted by every coach and top-ranked player.
Focusing is the mental game skill that brings your talent to light and allows you to play to the best of your abilities.
Let’s examine focusing and, in particular, how it affects the pressure to perform…
Julie M. is a skilled 14 year-old player with hopes of hitting the pro circuit one day.
Julie has all the physical tools to achieve her dream… powerful and accurate serve, great footwork, strong strokes, quickness and agility on the court and a great work ethic.
According to her coaches, Julie has the physical abilities to make the jump to the next level.
Julie wins her fair share of matches but she tends to choke when she feels more pressure upon her shoulders.
When Julie focuses on the expectations placed upon her, the pressure gets to her.
All Julie can think about, when she feels pressure, is, “What if I lose?” or “What if I fail?”
This is the precise point, when Julie takes the focus off her game and focuses on a growing sense of pressure, that Julie falters during matches.
If you are to play well during tough matches, you must learn to deal with pressure or what to focus on to play a tougher brand of tennis.
French tennis player Caroline Garcia knows just how focus affects pressure and performance.
Garcia is playing on her home turf at the 2017 French Open. Expectations have been high for the French players to succeed, since the last Frenchwoman to win the French Open was Mary Pierce in 2000.
To add to the pressure was Garcia’s first experience at the French Open in 2011…
Garcia was leading Maria Sharapova 6-3 4-1 in their second-round match-up when her game fell apart and she lost the next 11 games in a row to lose the match.
At this year’s French Open, Garcia dealt effectively with pressure when she staved off Hsieh Su-Wei and prevailed in her third-round match 6-4 4-6 9-7.
Garcia credited her ability to stay focused as to why she managed the pressure of the big moment.
GARCIA: “I have experienced a lot of things at the French Open and this is helping me. At the beginning of the match today I was a bit stressed but then I just thought about my game. If we play on [center court] with [rival] Alize, I’m ready. If you want to win a grand slam, you have to be able to play on the big courts.”
In terms of pressure, there are a few factors at play that can help you perform at your peak in big matches:
- There is always a feeling of more pressure prior to or at the beginning of a match.
- If you want to play your best tennis during big matches, you must be able to manage pressure and expectations.
- Pressure is normal; every tennis player experiences some level of pressure. If you understand the source, it won’t freak you out so much.
- Focusing on your tactics and strokes–instead of outcome and reaching expectations–takes the focus off the importance of a match.
Top Strategy to Focus Under Pressure:
Whatever you feed grows. If you obsess about losing, pressure and anxiety will increase. Focus on a game strategy and performance will improve.
Define what you want to focus on for the match and write out your overall game plan for the match. Anticipate situations (for example, losing the first set) and your plan to cope with those situations.
By letting go of meeting expectations and worrying about outcomes, you will feel a greater sense of control and a decreased sense of pressure.
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.”
- “My confidence seems to disappear when I go from practice to matches and I don’t know why.”
- “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.”
Successful tennis players have learned how to perform with ultimate confidence in tournaments.
If you are ready to improve your mental toughness and perform with ultimate self-confidence in matches, Tennis Confidence: Mental Toughness For Tournament Players can help you do this!
- Players: Learn how to take control of your confidence, focus your best, and win more close matches.
- Instructors: Learn how to give your students the mental game advantage.
- Coaches: Boost your team’s confidence using simple, proven mental strategies.
- Parents: Help boost your junior tennis player’s confidence for tournaments. Just load the program on your player’s IPod!
Use Tennis Confidence to help boost your mental toughness in tennis and discover powerful and proven mental game strategies that have helped professional athletes win!
What are mental game customers saying?
“Thank you for all the knowledge, tools, material, and guidance you have given me throughout the MGCP course. It was truly a great experience. I am looking forward to integrating your mental training system to students at the club, as well as to athletes that truly are committed, and strive towards reaching their peak performance.”
~Tim Whitehead, Tennis Coach
“On behalf of all of our coaches who attended the 2004 ITA Coaches Convention, I would like to thank you for serving as a featured clinician. I know that the coaches felt it was both enjoyable and informative. We greatly appreciate your taking the time to prepare and present such an outstanding clinic for the benefit of our coaches.”
~Nancy Breo, ITA Convention
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Discover if you are making one or more of these “costly” unforced mental game errors during matches!
Download our free Tennis Psychology Report:
- How your mind can be your best or worst asset on the court.
- The top mental game skills you need to master to boost your confidence and performance between points.
- If you are using your mind effectively between points.
- One strategy that can help you let of go the last point.
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What are other mental game coaches and parents saying?
“I want to let you know that your “Tennis Confidence” CD program has been extremely helpful to me. I listen to the CDs in the car and the program is helping me overcome a lifetime of tournament performance Anxiety. Thank you!”
~Wing Yu, Tennis Player
“She did really well with controlling her emotions during the matches today. We were very proud of her for not showing her frustrations during the match; I think that was a big accomplishment. She really looked in control of her emotions even when she double faulted or made mistakes. The changes we saw in her behavior in less than 24 hours were AWESOME! Thank you for your guidance!”
~Jennifer, Tennis Parent
Boost Your Self-Confidence in Tennis With Expert Mental Game Coaching!
Master mental game coach, Dr. Patrick Cohn, can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal mental game coaching.
You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone.
Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 (local: 407-909-1700) or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!
What are our mental coaching students saying?
“Maggie had such a great weekend. As always, after she works with you she just seems more grounded and focused. She’s less likely to look around and get distracted during her match. She’s more focused on one point at a time. Also, as a parent, I’ve learned to encourage her process goals and not outcomes. Consequently, she played well and won her first doubles match, upsetting a seeded team in a really really close match!”*
~Katherine Johnson Cannata, Maggie’s mother
“Since you last worked with AJ in early September, his National ranking has improved from 349 to 148. His tournament record at one point, since talking with you was 17-4, with 3 of the 4 being in third sets or tiebreakers and 2 of those matches being the same player, whom he has since beaten (you may recall he was on an 0-9 losing streak when we contacted you). His tie-breaker record is at least 90% through last weekend when he won the 18s District tournament with a semi and final match tiebreak win. Your help has definitely improved AJ’s results and his on-court demeanor has substantially improved.”*
~Dawn Woodman, A.J.’s Mother