How to Bounce Back in Tennis Matches?

How to Focus in Tennis

Do you have Difficulty Switching the Momentum?

After you lose a few consecutive games or drop your serve, regaining your composure and focus can be challenging.

A player from our Mental Game of Tennis Survey asked the following question about refocusing:

“I seem to lose my focus after I lose consecutive games in the first set. It’s in my head that I can’t come back. I become frustrated quickly and seem to always lose in straight sets. Is there anything I can do?”

When you lose early in the first set, you want to stay patient and refocus. If not, you get caught up in thinking about lost points or games and begin to unravel.

You will think you cannot bounce back, miss easy shots, and make uncharacteristic mistakes. Instead of reacting quickly to the ball, you will feel sluggish on the court.

Rather than focusing on executing a solid shot, you will fear hitting the ball long and losing the point.

Regaining your form is a matter of resetting. Resetting is a mental strategy where you stop, relax, and refocus. You can consider resetting as wiping the slate clean.

How to Reset

The first step is to take a brief mental break. Walk to the back of the court to hit the pause button on your negative thinking and clear your mind.

During your brief mental break, calming down and manage negative emotions is essential. Taking several deep breaths will slow down the stress response.

Lastly, reframe your situation and refocus on the current point. You can reinterpret the circumstances by telling yourself, “I can’t change what has happened. I’m down but not out. I can get back into this match.”

Then, refocus on your plan for the next point. For example, “I will swing out on my backhand aggressively.”

You Are Not Alone

Even professional tennis players need to master the mental skill of resetting.

For example, World No. 1 Iga Swiatek had a rocky start in her match against Victoria Azarenka at the 2022 Italian Open but hit the reset button for a 6-4 6-1 victory.

Swiatek twice lost her service and found herself down 0-3 in the first set. Swiatek responded by resetting and winning three consecutive breaks to win the first set, 6-4.

In the second set, Swiatek lost two service games in the opening game, then won six straight games to win the match.

SWIATEK: “Happy I reset and started to play much better. I didn’t start well, and everybody could see that. I’m really happy with the way I reacted and how I improved in the first set. Also, how different the second set looked to the first one because I could really reset and really change the way I played. That’s the most positive thing for me.”

Resetting is an essential mental strategy for all athletes. When you prioritize your mental game, you will develop a strong belief in your ability to bounce back in pressure situations.

Bounce Back in Matches

Remember that being down in the match does not mean you have lost the match. Start small and build momentum – Focus on the next point, not the scoreline.

Know that anything can happen across the net. Your opponent can get tired or start to protect the lead, for example.

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