Staying Mentally Strong
Everybody chokes say the professionals. But not everyone gets into a state where they cannot hit the ball in the court at all. Let’s break it down into a few common situations and see it we can learn something from it. If you start out playing great and you think “This can’t last”, it won’t. Next time keep telling yourself this is your day and don’t look back. But on those days when you crash, lower your expectations and try to play your normal game. If you can and you still lose, it is likely that your opponent is better than you. The positive lesson here is that you are capable of playing great. So keep practicing until you can play great for 3 sets.
If you play better when you are behind, don’t be surprised. Most players focus betterwhen they fall behind. Many players start playing “not to lose” when they are nearing the end of a set or a match. If you got ahead by playing aggressively and you start hitting the ball slower and shorter, don’t be surprised when your opponent starts playing better. You have taken the pressure off him and given him or her the opportunity to hit deeper and put the pressure on you. Stick with what got you there and don’t take your foot off the pedal.
Finally, if you are in the third set and both you and your opponent are “babying” the ball, try this. Tell yourself to “pause, then hit”. That is, delay your swing so that you have to accelerate to hit the ball. This should force you to accelerate through the ball as you hit it and give you more pace, depth and control. Decelerating causes your shot to slow down and fall short.