The Mindset That Lead Shelby Rogers to Victory
Playing the top ranked players in tennis can be intimidating. When the odds are stacked against you, defeat may seem imminent.
Look at your career in tennis… How have you performed against players with a much higher rank? Were you in awe of their talent or their powerful strokes?
Where you afraid you were just going to be embarrassed on the court and just wanted to get the match over with?
Many tennis players play the “rank game” in their mind prior to playing a match.
As the difference in rankings becomes greater, so do the odds of losing for these players.
If this sounds familiar, you are probably highly anxious and your mindset is probably one where you hope to not lose too badly so you can preserve some degree of dignity.
There are countless underdog stories of athletes who have beaten the odds.
How do these athletes rise up to beat high-ranked opponents?
One way is to not care or know your opponent’s ranking… Quick story:
I recall a USTA junior tournament when my daughter played in a state event in South Florida G16s. Her second round match was against a top 10 player in the state…
However, she didn’t even know the ranking of her opponent going into the match. She won the match that day–but had she know her opponent’s ranking, it might have been a different story.
She was surprised when I told her she beat a top 10 ranked player in the state!
What is the mindset of athletes who become the Cinderella story that inspires other athletes?
Tennis players who become Cinderella stories have the mindset that keeps their head in the game.
That is, these tennis players are not focused on their opponent or their opponent’s ranking or even the skill set of their opponent.
Tennis players who beat the odds have the “why-not-me” mindset…
These Cinderella stories know that countless lower rank opponents have beaten top ranked players…
These players think:
“If it has happened before, it can happen now” and this mindset keeps them in the game with a fighting chance to pull out the victory.
For example, 23 year-old American Shelby Rogers entered the 2016 French Open being ranked 108th.
Prior to the French Open, Rogers had a 6-5 record in Tour events this year and had only won four matches at Major events in her career.
But Rogers is writing a new Cinderella story at this year’s French open.
Rogers has advanced to the quarter finals tying her career Major victory total (4) including victories over higher ranked opponents No. 17 Karolina Pliskova in the first round, No. 10 Petra Kvitova in the third round and No. 25 Irina-Camelia Begu.
ROGERS: “I keep reminding myself to play one point at a time and that this is just another tennis match.”
Rogers’ mindset of focusing on her game and tactics has produced positive on-court results. If you adopt the same approach to facing higher ranked opponents, you too can join the Cinderella story ranks.
Try this strategy to write your own Cinderella story:
Instead of talking yourself out of winning, have that internal talk about why it is possible to win.
“The player who wins is not always the best player but the one who makes shots.”
“Upsets happen all the time in every tournament.”
“There are advantages to being an underdog because top opponents may overlook you.”
“My opponent is human and can have an off day.”
“There is more pressure on my opponent because they are expected to win. So I really have nothing to lose.”
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