The Secret To Mental Strength In Matches
The mental strength you display when you are trailing your opponent, or even when you are in a winning position, will determine your final result almost every time.
Being mentally strong is an almost mystical ability, where a player is able to successfully pull through all the pressures of a match to come out on top, virtually every time.
The opposite of mental strength is fear. For instance, some players immediately hit the 'panic button' as soon as they get into the slightest bit of trouble early in a match (such as being down a break of serve in the first set) and competely change their tactics altogether, instead of continuing to play their own natural game, before maybe incorporating a few tactical changes later to see how they work. This happens because of fear.
Other players find that when they are leading a match, they suddenly begin to freeze up right at the crucial moment, when they are serving for the match. They begin trying to "protect their lead" instead of playing the aggressive tennis that got them into the winning position. (As they say, "never change a winning game").
In both cases, the secret is to remain mentally strong and not allow fear to dictate your thinking - but this is easier said than done. So what is the real secret to mental strength?
The answer is easy. To become mentally strong, simply keep your mind in the present moment, 100% of the time - and never focus on the past, or on the future.
Fear usually comes from allowing our minds to develop a "fear of what might happen" outlook - instead of focusing on playing one point at a time, and keeping our thoughts 100% in the now.
Former world no.1 tennis player in the 1970's Arthur Ashe, who was one of the mentally-strongest tennis players of all time, once said that tennis is a sport where "we do not have the luxury of thinking cumulatively" - or in other words, if we think about more than one point at a time during a match, we are going to lose.
So the secret to keeping your mind strong and preventing mental lapses is to practice this mental skill relentlessly in all your matches and practice, until you finally master it.
But know this - it is NOT easy. If it was, everyone could do it. It is actually a very powerful mental discipline, which takes quite some time to master - because the very last thing your conscious mind wants to do is focus upon the present moment.
Your conscious mind loves nothing more than to focus upon all the negatives - such as the points that we have lost, and also fearing whatever might happen in the future.
So you must relentlessly bring your focus back onto the present point - again, and again, and again - until it finally becomes disciplined enough to do this automatically.
It sounds easy, but it will be one of the toughest things you have ever tried to master. You will need to practice this as much as your have practicing your groundstrokes, before the results will begin to come through. But once you do, you will never have any major mental lapses during your matches ever again - and you will become very, very hard to beat.
So go to it - and let me know how you go!
"The Mind controls the body, and the Mind is Unlimited"
The best of success, Craig Townsend
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