Staying Relaxed In a Match
Competition can be intense. Waves of emotions can come and go with varying levels of intensity and impact to your game. We will outline here some ways to stay calm and relaxed on the court during a match.
After all the on court training sessions and off court hours of preparation the time has come for competition. Skills, strategy, and mindsets are put to the test. Staying relaxed and focused is key to allowing all the time and preparation to lead to success. Below are some skills to use to stay relaxed and focused during a tennis match.
Breathing has more impact on a persons body and mind that one may think. The use of proper breathing techinques can aid in physical recover, calming of the mind, and creates space for planning a next move. A players focused breathing should happen intentially in 3 different times of competition.
- During a Point
- Between Points
- On change overs
- Connects the mind and the body.
- Allows the body to relax and recover.
- Keeps the mind focused on something specific rather than all the distractions happen.
Ritual between points:
when watching athletes play a match it becomes very evident that they have certain patterns of behavior that they engage in before and after each point or game that is played. (Many even have a pattern of how they act on change overs as well.) These behaviors are called rituals. Professionals have selected actions they intentionally choose to do which helps them focus or move on to the next point. Some examples of rituals are listed below. A scenario is also listed in order to help give more light to this picture of how a ritual is implemented.
After the point is over for the first 5 seconds feel the emotions from the last point; good or bad. Allow these emotions to flow through the body and then exit. For the next 5 seconds focus on a goal (look back upon the goals that were created before the match and remember what you had planned to do.). During the next 5 seconds create a plan to achieve that goal. Simplistic activities such as walking to the fence turning around and walking to the baseline, going to a towel, fixing your hat or hair braid are all rituals. No matter what it is, make sure that you develop a ritual between points to turn to.
Here is a direct example of what a ritual may look like:
After you lose a point:
- Go back to the fence, breath and relax your mind, put the last point behind you, grab your towel, focus on the next strategy for the following point, keep breathing, shake out your arm, Turn around and approach the baseline, focus on a target and a plan, relax your shoulders, inhale and exhale a long breath. Start the point.
After a point you win:
- Go back to the fence, grab your towel, remember what worked, relax your mind and body while holding onto the positive strategy that worked. Keep a good energy level. Turn around, go to the baseline, focus on a target and strategy, and be ready to play the point.
Staying focused requires an athlete to find space within a competition to relax the mind and the body. The use of intentional breathing and implementation of a ritual are skills that will impact success on a consistent basis.