Playing and winning are different things. Learning how to win isn’t easy. To put away an opponent and win a match takes a plan, confidence, and execution. There is a big difference between winning your final match and loosing your final match. Finding the mental and physical energy to win requires thought and practice. Below we will look at some of the things which can help lead to winning.
Tips for success in the moment:
- Stay Relaxed; know your goals and your strategy for the match.
- Remember what is working and continue that pattern.
- Get the first ball in the court & work the point with confidence.
- Know how many points you need and win one of those at a time.
In this article winning will be discussed in the context of attacking and earning the win. It is an active & not passive effort. We will not be referencing an opponents giving away a match or free points that are unforced. These situations are different and will distract from this discussion. This topic of winning discusses how a player actively takes the match. A player who has a winning mindset focuses on what is in their control and on their execution. A winners mind set is placed on what is happening on their side of the net. Being confident and consistent in ones game will put pressure on the opponent. A player who wants to win will look to create situations where pressure is put on an opponent to the point where forced errors occur. Winning a match isn’t just about hitting winners, its about playing the game with consistent pressure and purpose.
The above bullet points are listed to help develop patterns of play, ways of thinking, and behaviors that lead to winning a match. A brief explanation below will be given for each topic.
Stay Relaxed & know your goals and your strategy for the match: Plans, goals, and strategy can ground a player in their performance. A players ability to stay in the moment and not be distracted by the external factors going on around them will lead to winning. Staying relaxed mentally, physically, and emotionally are what is in a players control.
Remember what is working and continue that pattern: Tennis is all about patterns of play and the execution. Being mindful of what has worked in the match and what is working can lead to winning decisions. Trying to add in new shots, strategy, and focus will only distract the player and decrease percentage of execution. Winning is typically about a consistent strategy and execution.
Get the first ball in the court & work the point with confidence. The first shot of every rally is the most important shot a player will hit. If the first ball doesn’t go in, there is not change of actively winning a match. Winning is about stringing shots together into a pattern and being consistent with that pattern. Winners don’t get caught up in the moment but know what the next step is. Getting the first ball into the court to start your plan is where winning begins.
Know the number of points you need and win one of those at a time: Winning is a present focused activity. Focusing on the future will only inhibit a players chances of winning. Winning one point at a time gives the correct level of importance to the situation. You can’t play multiple points at one time so it is only appropriate to think about the point you are playing. Focusing on the points a player needs to win also helps them to forget about points lost. Points lost are in the past and doesn’t help a winner succeed.
There is a big difference between competing and winning. Anyone can compete as an athlete. Winning is a skill that has to be learned and mastered. Winning isn’t easy, it requires a competitor to be different than their opponent. Learning how to win takes time. An athletes self-worth should not be effected by winning or losing. Winning requires a short term memory, one which doesn’t focus on the past or the future. Winning requires focusing on the present and what is in one control. (The bullet points above have this in mind.) Below is a great quote to help players win.
Don’t let your fears get in the way of your dreams. Don’t’ let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can. The greatest victory is the victory over ourselves (Mack 2001)
Mack, G. (2001) Mind Gym: An Athletes Guide to Inner Excellence. New York, Ny: McGraw-Hill