Allen Fox, author of “Tennis: Winning The Mental Match”, has written a really good article that you can find on page 66 in the July / August 2013 issue of Tennis magazine that has a pic of Andy Murray on the cover.
Dr. Fox discusses a few different issues in this article, but the one I want to address in this post is this notion that you have to believe you’re going to win the match prior to and during the match to give yourself the best chance to win.
Quoting Dr. Fox, “While it is an advantage to think that you are going to win, not much can be done about it. You either feel this way or you don’t, so it is best to put the issue aside entirely and focus your self-belief on your strokes and tactical responses”.
And I agree. When I’m playing a tournament or league match, I know that just about anything is possible in terms of winning or losing a match.
None of us will ever win every match against a lesser rated player, and none of us will ever lose every match against a higher rated player.
Unless you’re playing way way out of your skill level range, either above it or below it, I’ve found that it’s best to simply assume you’re going to be competitive enough and play well enough to put yourself into a position to win this match.
I might be playing against someone who is clearly a better player most of the time, but I also have to believe that today just might be the day when I play well enough to win.
And believe me, I’ve tried to force myself to play at a higher level against top players only to make more unforced errors than I normally might against someone who I’m even with.
According to Dr. Fox, and contrary to those folks who spout off how you’ve got to get in the zone and not think about anything, “Compared to match outcome, belief in the competence of your shot execution is more achievable and productive“.
And again, I totally agree …
We’re not talking about mentally processing through every stroke with 3-4 shot mechanic cues, but instead, trusting that the shot you’re about to play is going to work out just fine.
I was playing in the quarterfinals of the 2009 World Cup 60s doubles tournament with partner Hugh Thomson, and after missing a couple of transitional volleys behind my serve, Hugh simply told me to take my time with the shot and “trust” that it’s going to do exactly what you want it to do.
You know in your tennis lifetime that you’ve hit a gazillion crosscourt forehand groundstrokes, or slice backhand returns of serve, or 2nd serves when you’re down break point, whatever, you’ve had enough success with every shot in your arsenal that it’s OK to trust that the next one will be just fine.
And right, we’re all going to “trust” and miss a few now and then, that’s just plain old reality, BUT, you give yourself the best chance to win matches by trusting and believing that your normal strokes are good enough.
Look, unless you’re making huge sums of money on the pro tour, an enormous percentage of our matches are won or lost simply on who makes or doesn’t make the most the unforced errors.
And unforced errors in my experience comes from a lack of self belief, trust, rather than pure stroke mechanic proficiency.
So, blah, blah, blah … Stop worrying about match outcome. Put your mental energy into trusting that this next shot and the entire match is simply going to work out.
Find this article in Tennis magazine from Dr. Fox and give it a good read a few times. I trust that you will
Also, “Tennis: Winning The Mental Match” by Dr. Fox is outstanding. Pick up your copy here.
For Those Of You Who Want To Train Hard
On & Off The Tennis Court …
AND Then Physically Recover So That You Can Come Back The Next Day Ready To Roll Again …
Here’s What I’ve Been Taking For Over 2 Months,
And The Results For Me Have Been Exactly What I Was Hoping To Get …
I’ve initially dropped off 10 unneeded pounds so I feel quicker
and lighter on my feet, and best of all,
I’m now able to play and train hard and not need a day off the next day.
Or shoot me an email to email@example.com