Do you let thoughts of winning or losing come into your mind when you are playing a tiebreaker, you are ahead or if the match is tight? Do you do anything about these thoughts? Is it too late to recover from such thoughts? Do you suffer from thinking too much…..especially about the outcome of the game?
The first step to defusing these unproductive or destructive thoughts is to be aware of them at the time they come into your mind. Only when you are aware of them can you begin to deal with them and as long as you deal with them immediately, they will not or should not affect your play.
The moment you are aware that you had an unproductive thought you say to yourself “Cancel Cancel”, take a sighing exhale and make a statement that is productive. The kinds of statements that I am talking about are as follows: “OK, body, I can’t win this. You will have to do it and I will stay out of your way and I will just focus on the ball and breathe.” Or, “I am going to just let my body play and let the outcome be what it will.”
Please don’t use a negative like “I am not going to try to hit the ball into the court” or “I am not going to miss” because,, as they say in NLP circles your subconscious mind does not hear the “not.” It just hears “I am going to try …” Or “I am going to miss” and hopefully you know trying doesn’t work very well.
Here is the bad news. These ideas don’t always work. You will still choke. But the good news is you now have some very specific tools to use. You will find that the times you do choke will be kept at a minimum and who knows, maybe you will eliminate choking altogether.
The other thing you can do if you find yourself “thinking too much”, is to occupy your mind by watching a ball (any ball) and listen to your breathing in between points. That will keep you in the “here and now” and it will harder for “other thoughts” to intrude.
For more specific tools to help you deal with playing your very best during matches, tiebreakers, when you are ahead, or when you are losing, please go to Tennis and check out my book Playing Zen-Sational Tennis.