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Win More With The Right Mentality During Matches

July 27, 2017

Roger Federer’s dominance this year was quite a surprise for even the die-hard fans like myself. Being injury free doesn’t quite explain his resurgence. When you’re at such a high level like Roger, it’s mostly mental. He gives us a glimpse of what was the difference when asked in a recent interview. He answers the question of his recent dominance as mostly a mental thing. He explained that last year he was focusing more on himself and how he felt rather than what the patterns of the match. Instead of thinking of what he could do to this opponent, he was thinking about how his body was holding up during the match. This year he has total trust in his body and has focused solely on strategy and movement on the court.

So how can we learn from this as mere mortals of tennis players? Play chess while playing tennis. If you played chess before, you did not think about the physical part of picking up the pieces but rather what you could do to hurt your opponent by placing your pieces strategically on the board to give you the best chances of winning. This is the same concept that can be applied to your tennis game. Instead of thinking about how your backhand or forehand is going, focus on what shots you are able to hit that would be difficult for your opponent to hit. You should be automating your strokes so your energy and focus can be directed into “playing chess” against the person on the other side of the net. You would be surprised to how well this works. Brad Gilbert is a great example of someone who mastered this. A former #2 player in the world, his strokes were well below average on the tour but his strategy was the best. His book, “Winning Ugly” is a great read for more info on this way of playing.

I have a great example of NOT focusing on your opponent through my coaching experience. During a recent match, a player on my high school team came and talked to me and it was clear that after the first 3 games my player didn’t even realize that the player is left handed! They were so wrapped up in their own world of hitting the ball correctly that they didn’t even consider their opponent in their analysis of having the best game plan to win their match. Instead of looking in, look out!

You might find out that it’s actually more fun this way too :)

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