Raise Your Level of Game When it Matters Most
Do you play your best in tough matches or do you tend to fall apart in critical moments?
All tennis players wish they had the ability to improve their game when it matters most. That extra something or secret sauce of playing well in tough matches is focus.
You need a laser-focus that fully immerses you into the match.
Laser-focus is when you are focused solely on you, the ball, the court, and your opponent. Nothing else exists and you are playing fully on autopilot.
Many players have difficulty achieving this level of focus.
A tennis player reached out to us via our Mental Game of Tennis Needs Survey asking a question about focusing during tennis matches:
“I tend to try too hard in matches. It causes me to tighten up and make mistakes as a result. How do you get lost in a match and enjoy it without thinking of consequences?”
This situation is a common one. You train hard to win matches and in practices you dominate. You know you are talented and have racked up a number of wins against top opponents, but during important matches, you have worries that fill your head.
So many people are watching my match today. What if I lose? Can I really pull off this match? Will I choke when the pressure is on and my opponent is easily returning my serves? Multiple doubts come to mind. It seems difficult to stop the onslaught of negative thoughts.
Those thoughts become your biggest distraction and you become tense, nervous and miss even the easy shots.
Amateurs and professionals experience the same challenges.
For example, at the 2021 Australian Open, Jennifer Brady won her semi-final match against Karolina Muchova 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. The victory put Brady in her first Grand Slam finals match of her professional career.
Brady recognizes the challenges of focusing and immersing yourself in the moment.
BRADY: “I can enjoy the moment and just try to play tennis and not really think too much, but there’s always going to be moments where I’m going to be thinking, ‘Wow, this could be my first grand slam title.'”
Focusing can be challenging, but the skill of focusing can be learned and applied to improve performance.
4 Strategies to Improve your Ability to Focus
1. Doubts will still creep into your mind as they do for all tennis players, even top-ranked professional players. Don’t punish yourself when negative thoughts pop up.
2. Stay grounded in the moment. When your mind leaps ahead and thinks about potential outcomes, gently remind yourself to focus on the current point.
3. Put the match in perspective. Tennis isn’t life, nor will one match define you. Looking at the larger picture takes a great deal of pressure off your shoulders.
4. Occupy your mind between points. Distract yourself by focusing on physical objects such as your tennis racquet or the feel of the ball. By focusing on an external object, you won’t be focusing on distracting thoughts.
Imagine how much more you can achieve by learning to have a laser focus in matches.
How to Sharpen Focus During Tennis Matches:
We find that less thinking always trumps excessive thinking when playing a match…
During a match you want to use a simple prepoint routine to help you focus on what important and let go of distractions.
You can’t focus on your performance cues and a distraction at the same time. When you have negative or irrelevant thoughts, get back to focusing on your prepoint routine.
Try to keep your thinking simple… Tactics and targets is a good plan for most players.
Related Articles for Tennis Focus:
- How to Use Visualization in Tennis
- How to Get the Mental Edge in Tennis
- Vasilis Mazarakis on Mental Toughness in Tennis
“Tennis Confidence: Mental Game Strategies for Tournament Players” is Dr. Cohn’s program to help tennis players, coaches, and instructors improve the mental game of tennis is just 8 easy to learn sessions. Tennis Confidence: Mental Game Strategies for Tournament Players Audio and Workbook program is ideal for any junior, collegiate, and tour professional player. Tennis coaches and instructors would also be wise to teach the strategies in “Tennis Confidence 2.0.”
Tennis Confidence is a complete mental training program developed Dr. Cohn. You learn the same strategies Dr. Cohn teaches his personal students to help them improve mental toughness and consistency – from managing unrealistic expectations to coping with perfectionism. Read more about Tennis Confidence Program>>