how to psyche yourself out

I lost the second tiebreaker 7-0. Ouch. I kept telling myself that I was not going to lose this tiebreaker at love, there was no way, it’s not gonna to happen. But whenever I try to psyche myself up I play even worse. It takes me out of the task at hand which is, of course, to hit the ball over the net and into my opponent’s court. It also puts greater pressure on me which interferes with my flow. Lanny Bassham puts it this way: trying too hard is the biggest factor in poor performance.

Trying too hard – what does that mean? Flow – what is that?

Here’s an example. Your opponent has just hit a short ball and your eyes get really big. You know you want to come into the net and hit the ball deep into the corner and force them to pass you. But by the time you’ve gone through all of these thoughts, you’ve completely run past the ball and have to turn back and take a weak swing to get it over the net where it lands short and puts your opponent in the same position you were just in. What happened? Once the point starts it’s too late to think. Timothy Gallwey’s book, The Inner Game of Tennis, explains it like this: in order to get to the ball, get into position to hit it and send it into the corner on the other side of the net, well, let’s just say that it would take a fast supercomputer a long time to calculate all of the angles and arcs and coefficients of friction necessary to pull that off. The conscious mind, the one that’s thinking, “I’m gonna get to the ball, turn to hit it, send it deep into the corner….”, it’s hopelessly outmatched. My tennis instructor, Sean Brawley, certified by Gallwey, explains that a one inch change in the angle of your racket can send the ball seven feet beyond the baseline.

The point is that the brain is a supercomputer beyond all supercomputers and the instructions are carried out because you’ve practiced the approach shot to the point where you don’t have to think about it. If you decide you need to raise your game and put pressure on yourself to do better, it just interferes. What calculation is involved in doing better? If you mentally rehearse your next shot and remain calm, your little supercomputer can carry out its instructions

There are some players who seem to do better when they have a fit. John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors are two that I know about. Most of the time, though, they pulled a tantrum when the momentum was going against them and the goal was to unnerve their opponent, not themselves.

Practice and Competition Report: hit with someone for an hour and a half and played three sets with T, 4-6, 6-7(7-5), 6-7(7-0)
Solutions Analysis:
1. Looking for a solution to the problem of running backwards for a lob instead of turning to my side and sidestepping so that my racket is in position to hit the overhead.
2. I am learning to place the ball safely. Before my current emphasis on getting the ball into my opponent’s court, I would try to hit a deep shot in the corner and often it would go out. Now I try to hit the ball into the court near the corner.
Success Analysis:
1. I returned serve very well.
2. I hit a lot of first serves in. I lost rhythm on my serve at one point but I was able to regain it.