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:

  1. practice: I rent a court for an hour before competition and practice just as I would on practice days
  2. 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.

  3. game – on the break during crossover I mentally rehearse shots other than serve and return of serve
  4. set: sometimes I have to wait up to an hour to play the second set. During this time I practice footwork
  5. day: I can be nervous on days of competition. If the wind is blowing,
    it’s even worse. Whenever I think about the competition, I mentally rehearse
    the steps above – practice, point, game and set.

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