Having recovered from a bout of tennis elbow (are you sure you should be listening to me?) that curtailed my season last year, I am playing one set of singles and one set of doubles once a week in the Los Angeles Tennis Association. To increase my chance of actually improving my game, I occupy my mind with positive, constructive thoughts. It helps to break competition down into the following parts:
- practice: I rent a court for an hour before competition and practice just as I would on practice days
- point: before each point I run through a mental program
- I free my neck (this is that Alexander Technique stuff)
- smile at the thought of winning the next point and think about where I want the ball to go.
- mentally rehearse my next stroke – usually a serve or return of serve.
- say the score.
after each point: I congratulate myself if I win. If I don’t win, I forget about the last point and start the process above all over again.
- slice backhand and two-handed backhand
- high bouncing shot
- backhand and forehand overhead
- drop shot
- footwork for baseline shots
- footwork for approach shot
- footwork for overhead
- serve motion without the ball
it’s even worse. Whenever I think about the competition, I mentally rehearse
the steps above – practice, point, game and set.