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Mindset

Shift Your Focus

Pick one: The easy overhead. The sitting volley. The forehand into the empty court. You missed one of them at some point, and with that went the game. Rather than erasing it from your memory, you’re endlessly replaying the shanks in your head. Before the match gets totally out of reach, try the following steps to not only reverse, but also regain your momentum.

1. Tie Your Shoes

It’s an action that needs immediate attention, and it’ll pull you back into the present and shift your mind off of what you can’t change. “It puts blinders on you. It gets you back into the now,” says John Whitlinger, Stanford University men’s head tennis coach.

2. Move Your Feet

Focus on pushing off harder, making your cuts a little sharper, and getting to the ball a little quicker. When you’re frustrated, the first thing that stops is your feet. When your body is engaged, your mind will follow. “You’ll stay in the game,” says David da Silva, mental conditioning director at Evert Tennis Academy.

3. Key on the First Point

If you win that, his momentum is erased and you’re back into the match. Stay with strong, high-percentage shots to tell your opponent that you’re not shaken, and avoid hitting drop shots. Unless it’s for an obvious winner, they change your entire hitting pace, making you less aggressive, and if they’re not struck well, they’re an easy putaway, da Silva says.

4. Know the Essential Moments

While you’d like to win every point, anytime that you have the chance to win the game or get to ad—40-love, 30-love, 30-all—you want to up your focus, staying controlled but aggressive, remaining patient, and setting up points to play to your strengths. “It’s not a throwaway point. You can take your opponent’s legs out from under him,” da Silva says.

Tags: Tennis, Pressure, Focus

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