Guest Author - Sandra Eggers
Tennis looks to be a game where players hit a ball over a net, generally away from each other, with hopes of making the other player miss in order to win the point. If only it were that easy.
Playing tennis is about fitness and strategy, but the difference between otherwise equal opponents, might be the health of your mental game. When doubt creeps in, or inexperience causes you to lose confidence, that's when tennis turns into a whole other game.
It's not uncommon for tennis players at all levels to be nervous before, during and even after a match. What sets the winners apart from the losers is how you manage those nerves. If you don't get things under control, you'll have a hard time playing your game, and will surely be disappointed at the outcome.
First things first. It's only tennis. It's a game. The sun will still come up tomorrow whether you win or lose. Of course we all like to win, but half of us will lose. You might even be at an equal playing level as your opponent, but someone will lose. Accept it.
Most important if youíre feeling nervous is DONíT PANIC. If you lose a point, thereís going to be another. If you lose a game, thereís going to be another. If you lose a match, thereís going to be another. You get the picture. If you panic, you wonít be able to trust your game, and it will lead to defeat faster than anything.
Always remember that you can do everything right in tennis and lose a point because your opponent gets lucky. It happens. The Tennis Gods can sometimes be finicky. Those net cords donít always fall your way. And when it doesnít fall your way, take a moment, forget about it, refocus, move on, and play that next point with a constant level of intensity.
Itís hard to accept, but some opponents you encounter are going to be better than you on any given day. It will happen that they just plain outplay you. They might do it for a game, or a set, or for the entire match. If you are getting outplayed (i.e. youíre losing, getting beat, etc) be sure to stay in the moment. Never give up because you donít know what will happen in the next game. Itís difficult for any player to sustain a very high level of play throughout an entire match. Maybe theyíll get injured (we donít really wish this on anyone), or more often than not, they could lose focus and give you an opening. You need to be aware when that happens and be ready to make your move. Always keep the pressure on.
Donít let your fears, insecurity, lack of experience, and nerves get the best of you on the tennis court. Itís hard enough playing your opponent across the net, donít make it harder by having to battle your nerves at the same time.