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Tennis is not just for pros.
Tennis is for everyone.


Pressure is not something that exists in itself. It only exists according to how an individual interprets on-court circumstances. It causes negative results in one player and not in another. One’s reaction to pressure situations falls into a continuum ranging from almost no uneasiness to excessive dread, depending on one’s life experience in pressure situations. No matter how you look at it, it’s a thing of emotional reactions developed in your past history. To contort a popular phrase, what happens in Vegas doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas. It may spill over into your tennis.

Here are a couple of tennis related examples:

Situation 1. When playing a tiebreaker for instance, one competitor may feel quite nervous, tighten up, and play worse; whereas another competitor may simply play as good as normal for that player, or even better because of increased focus.

Situation 2. Tension may exist within you due to your expectations. Expectations are experienced in one of two ways, either expectations of yourself relative to your performance, or expectations that you assume relative to other people, such as your partner or your team.

The most common phenomenon incurred in anxiety situations is fear of failure. Anxiety is a result of worry about future results – losing the point, losing the game, or losing the match. If you accept this as fact, then this is the first step towards playing better under pressure.

The best plan that I know of to reduce your anxiety is to “play within the point.” Try to forget what might happen and put all of your concentration on hitting the ball. You can think of it as getting tunnel vision. Nothing external to your shot is important at that moment – only how you hit the ball. If you miss a shot, hey, its history. You can’t change it and when playing you simply don’t have time to reconstruct the reason. The only exception to this is in the unlikely circumstance that a devastating, monster meteor hits the Earth, in which case it won’t make any difference anyway.

A plan for reducing your nervousness is to realign your internal expectations of yourself. If your self-expectation is to always win the match, then that’s a problem. If you can supplant that expectation with a more realistic goal, such as trying to hit your current shot into the court and away from the opponent, then you’re on your way to playing better tennis – one shot at a time. It’s matter of perspective. [See the instructional Mental Aspects of Competing in Tennis.]

Another plan for reducing your nervousness is to let go all thoughts of what you perceive others might think of your performance. No matter what their thoughts are, good, bad, or indifferent, their expectations are irrelevant to what you are doing.

If you win, great! If you don’t win, remember that PLAYING TENNIS IS A PRIVILEGE and that most of the world does not have the chance of experiencing it.

[22-PLAYING UNDER PRESSURE – The Ins and Outs by TennisTom] [Rev 2-12-11]


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