Maintaining Concentration During Tennis Matches
What throws you off your game during a match? Do you lose your cool after a bad line call, spectator noise, grunting from your opponent, or your opponent taking too much time between points?
In these four previous scenarios, there is nothing you can do to prevent them or change them.
A missed line call may be upsetting; however, you cannot control the line judge. Spectator noise is annoying, but you are limited in preventing noise.
Even when your opponent is disruptive, you have zero control over their behavior.
When you try to exert control over something you cannot control, you will feel helpless, angry, frustrated, or anxious.
The more importance you place on something you cannot control, the bigger the distraction and the more it interferes with your game.
For example, a player from our Mental Game of Tennis Needs Survey asked this:
“How can I maintain my focus and play my game when my opponent debates every call and has emotional outbursts?”
When you focus on these distractions, the distractions take over your focus. You become more and more annoyed.
You feel negative emotions rise to the surface and have trouble calming down. You want to yell, “Stop complaining and just play.” However, your lack of control over the situation creates more anxiety.
Most distractions are, in a sense, insignificant.
For example, in the scheme of things, a bad line call is insignificant in that you cannot change what has already happened. You might think, “What if the bad call leads to me dropping a set?”
While the result stinks, you cannot control calls by the line judge or umpire. Anything that you cannot control should be seen as insignificant. You can regain your focus more quickly when you let go of annoying or frustrating circumstances.
At the 2022 French Open, Stan Wawrinka became highly agitated over the temperature of his drinking water.
Three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka lost in the first round to Corentin Moutet 6-2, 3-6, 6-7(2-7), 3-6
Wawrinka lost his cool and focus over his water temperature while down 5-2 in the third set. Wawrinka erupted over the incident and yelled at the umpire.
WAWRINKA: “It is not normal at a grand slam. Is that normal? Do you think it is normal? So you call someone. It has been three changeovers; I asked you for some water that is not freaking freezing. Because it is not good. You are at the French Open, and you cannot get normal water. You think it is normal?”
Tennis author Mark “Scoop” Malinowski commented on the incident, “Whining about water temperature is absurd, especially by a great champion like Wawrinka. He’s gotta be tougher or just bring his own drink.”
The lesson is if you cannot control something, don’t give it mind space. Focus on what you can control at that moment. That is the key to playing your best tennis.
How to Overcome Distractions During a Tennis Match:
The first step in dealing with distractions is understanding what you can and cannot control…
If a distraction is outside your control, you should not concern yourself with it. When you make a big deal out of something you cannot control, you allow intense negative emotions to boil over and affect your game.
Instead ask yourself, “what should I focus on right now to help me get ready for the next point?”
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