Mental Skills and Momentum of a Match
How quickly, if at all, can you rebound after losing several points or games in a row?
After making several mistakes early in a match, do you feel the match slipping away? Are you able to hit the reset button, swing the momentum in your favor, and get back on track?
Recently, we received a question from our Mental Game of Tennis Needs Survey about this topic:
“When I start losing serve, my entire game is thrown off for the rest of the match. How do I let go so that the only thing left is to just play?”
When you lose your serve, you start expecting to lose more points. You remember times when your game fell apart in past matches, concluding that it would happen again. You feel helpless to change what you believe to be inevitable. Since you expect the worst, you get the worse, and your play spirals downward quickly.
To stop the downward spiral, you need to shift focus. Reversing the course requires that you pause, reset and refocus:
- Pause – Take 1-2 deep breaths to clear your mind and relax your body.
- Resetting – Use a verbal cue such as saying the word “stop” or “reset.” You can also utilize a physical cue, like pressing your fist to your thigh as if hitting a reset button.
- Refocus – Refocus by asking yourself the simple question, “What should I do now to turn the tide?”
Resetting is a mental skill utilized by many professional tennis players to regain their composure in the middle of matches.
World No. 1 Iga Swiatek used the resetting strategy to beat Victoria Azarenka, 6-4, 6-1, in the round of 16 at the 2022 Italian Open. Swiatek was down 0-3 in the first set. After Swiatek hit the reset button, she won three consecutive breaks, took a 5-3 lead, and eventually won the first set. Swiatek lost the first game in the second set, then won six games in a row to capture the victory.
The key to Swiatek’s victory was her ability to reset, refocus and play one point at a time.
SWIATEK: “I didn’t start well, and everybody could see that. I’m really happy with the way I reacted and how I improved in the first set. Also, how different the second set looked to the first one because I could really reset and really change the way I played. That’s the most positive thing for me.”
Resilient tennis players often utilize this reset strategy, and it can work for you, too.
Tip for Resetting during a Match:
You can reset at any moment during a match, such as between points, switching ends, or between sets. Remember the process: pause, reset and refocus.
Make sure to work on this strategy in practice first. If you haven’t practiced this strategy, you will have difficulty resetting under the stress and intensity of competition.
Remember, you may not be able to control your circumstances, but you always have control of your reactions.
Related Tennis Psychology Articles
My program is ideal for athletes who want great composure or any coach or parent who wants to teach athletes to harness the power of maximum composure.
Here’s a peek at some of what you’ll learn in The Composed Athlete:
- How to model your ideal composed athlete
- How to identify the specific mental breakdowns that impede your composure
- How to create powerful feelings of composure in just 15 minutes a day
- Break through fears and ineffective beliefs that keep you stuck in a comfort zone
- How to become a success-driven instead of fear-driven athlete
- How to get beyond self-intimidate and awaken the champion within
- Specific mental strategies for letting go of errors and frustration about mistakes
- A pregame routine to get yourself into a composed mindset from the get go.