Letting Go of Mistakes

Tennis Psychology

Playing In The Moment In Matches

Playing in the “now” requires a tennis player to commit to “letting go.”

“Letting go” of mistakes is a strategy where a player releases (flushes) the last point in order to re-gain his focus for the current point.

When you can’t release the last point and focus in the present moment, you can spiral out of control and not play to your potential in matches.

Unforced errors, miss-hits, double faults and bad line calls can affect your mindset for the rest of a set if you not have the tools to re-gain focus and play the current point.

Recently, Andy Murray was adversely affected by a bad call at the 2014 Sony Open in his quarterfinal match against Novak Djokovic.

The point in question occurred at the start of the 12th game where Djokovic reached his racket across the net then illegally hit the ball for a winner.

Murray argued with chair umpire Damian Steiner to change his call.  Not only did he lose the dispute, a flustered Murray committed unforced backhand errors on the next three points to lose the game, set and eventually the match 5-7, 3-6.

Djokovic believed Murray’s inability to “let go” of the bad call negatively affected Murray’s play:

“Obviously, that distracted him mentally, and after that he gave the set away.”

By learning how to bounce back from bad calls and mistakes, you will be able to increase your mental toughness for future matches.

The following tips will help you get your game back on track during a match after a bad call:

  1. Recognize – you need to let go of the previous point and focus on what you need to do for this point.  By focusing on what to do in the present, you will no longer be focused on the past point.
  2. Relax – You want to learn to manage your emotions in order to be in the optimal state for the upcoming point. Take a deep breath, shrug your shoulders, or adjust your strings to cue you to adjust your mindset for the current point.
  3. Re-focus – You should have a pre-serve routine that helps you get ready for the upcoming point. An effective routine prepares you mentally and physically and focuses your attention on “this point.”

How you react to mistakes and how quickly you can refocus determines how you bounce back from mistakes and increase your chances for success in tennis.

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