It is way better to prepare ahead mentally for adversity in a tennis match than hope it does not happen. If you accept the fact that every match you play will have a period, or periods of adversity then you will be better off in your mind to deal with it when it finally arrives.
You Don’t Know When
Tennis matches are all different. The adversity may come very early or it may come very late but you know at stage you are going to have to deal with it. Closing out a set can be a difficult period and the beginning of the second set is often a time in a match when the waters get choppy as the player who lost the first set makes a major push to get right back into the match.
Size Of The Cloud
This is mostly dependent on you. Are you going to make a mountain out of a mole hill? A lot of times we stress way too much over the smaller things and turn a small problem into a much bigger one all on our own. It’s in your best interests to try and make the storm cloud, and the problem, as small as you can. Much easier to deal with.
Minimize The Problem
Too often when adversity strikes it has a much longer effect than it really should. You may lose a point but are you going to lose the next one or a string of points because you just can’t get over the first one? Hanging onto the negativity is like a cancer that eats away at your future. Get over the problem quickly. It’s not worth dwelling on the problem when the next point is at hand and the chance to gain back the momentum presents itself.
Short Term Memory
When you lose a point you must quickly learn from it so that you can stop it happening again in the future and then completely get rid of it. You don’t need it anymore. It is way better to have short term memory loss with all the bad things that happen in a match and commit to your long term memory all the good things you are doing so you can keep repeating them as much as possible.
Rafael Nadal’s Book – RAFA
On the 2008 Wimbledon Final v Roger Federer.
When Federer has these patches of utter brilliance, the only thing you can do is try and stay calm, wait for the storm to pass.
You can’t let yourself be demoralized; you have to remember – or you have to convince yourself – that he cannot possibly sustain that level of play game after game,
that if you stay cool and stick to your game plan and keep trying to wear him down and make him uncomfortable,
he’ll leave the zone sooner or later. His mental intensity will slacken, and you’ll have your chance.
Say to yourself – “I know a tough time will come eventually. I am ready to battle it.”
Don’t run from adversity. It builds your character and makes you stronger. In a lot of ways welcome it.
The size of the storm cloud is up to how well you can stay positive under pressure.
The length of time the storm cloud stays is shortened when you stop beating yourself up.
So important to not hang on to errors and keep repeating them in your mind.
Let go of the bad stuff. Embrace the good stuff much more than you ever have.