How well do you focus when feeling under pressure from tennis tournaments or matches? Does your focus wander or do you worry about results of the match such as what if… “I choke the lead away and embarrass myself?”
In my work as a tennis psychology expert, many of my mental game students get caught in the trap of thinking too much about consequences of the outcome of a match or tournament and what parents might think if they lose.
You want to have high goals for your tennis and strive to accomplish your goals. But focusing too much about the end of the match or tournament can cause you to lose your focus on one point at a time (in-the-now).
When feeling the pressure during crunch-time, the top tennis players are able to focus even better in the present moment. I had a chance to talk to LPGA Star Helen Alfredsson about focus under pressure. She said the best athletes see and hear less than other athletes.
“One of the biggest differences between the top players and the good players is when they are under the gun, they see and hear less than anyone else.”
~Helen Alfredsson, LPGA Tour
What does Alfredsson mean when she says other athletes see and hear less? The top players in the world are less distracted when they *need to* hit a winner, serve an ace, or win a break point.
Great players such as Roger Federer, do not lose themselves in moment of intense tournament pressure. They are able to focus their best in crunch-time – and focus only on successful execution of shots.
The pressure or intensity of the moment narrows their focus in these situations.
Focusing on what you can control is part of coping with tournament pressure. On The Soul of the Champion series, NY Yankee’s Relief Pitcher said this about his ability to focus during a game and cope with potential distractions…
“I don’t worry about things I can’t control. Going into a game, I do not worry about 50,000 fans screaming or booing me. I focus on one thing only – get three guys out,” Mariano Rivera said.
In my new sports psychology CD program, “The Focused Athlete,” I teach you 14 days of focusing drills to hone your concentration under pressure:
Read how to improve your concentration under pressure!
For now, I want you to notice and be aware of what *you* see or hear during matches, especially when you are playing pressure points. This way you will be ready to handle future distractions and refocus your mind in crunch-time.