HOW TO PERFORM BETTER UNDER PRESSURE
1. Your first goal in every tennis match is to try to play point by point and never dwell on the outcome. The outcome is out of your control, and if you do focus on it, you’ll experience anxiety and feel the pressure. Your main goal is to avoid getting into this state in the first place.
Here are a couple examples of how to focus your mind to stay present:
Example A: When serving or returning serve focus on trying to hit a specific target to put your mind in the present moment and not on the stress of winning or losing.
Example B: Pick a number of times you would like to hit the ball and count it down in your head – again with the intent of giving your mind something to focus on other than winning or losing.
2. To reduce the feeling of pressure focus on each point, taking extra time to breathe, and perform a ritual before you serve and return. When you get rid of the tension in your body and clear your mind, you’ll be able to play at your best again.
3. If you’re doing the exercises mentioned above and the pressure persists, you need to accept it and ADAPT your game.
Realize that the extra tension you feel in your body will affect the coordination of your muscles, and your brain will feel like it is experiencing some extra noise which will cause you to be unable to play your best tennis. But, that doesn’t mean that you will lose! Your opponent is most likely feeling the pressure too, so it’s now a matter of who can handle the pressure best!
Start playing high percentage tennis by keeping the same rhythm of shots (do not slow down your arm!) but aim further away from the lines and add more height to the ball above the net.
Win the match by hard work and not by flashy winners. Don’t panic if you feel the pressure, just accept it, find a way to play solid tennis without making many mistakes, and see how that affects your opponent’s game. You’ll see that in most cases you’ll edge ahead. If not, you’ll have to start going for your shots despite feeling the pressure.