I was heading to the gym with trepidation one day, convinced that I would be unable to do half a lap in the pool. I was also equally convinced that if I was able to swim a half a lap, I was not going to be able to do my usual thirty-five laps. Somehow the message never got to my body and I swam more than my usual thirty-five laps. Thankfully my negative mindset did not hinder my performance.
I imagine doubts crop up in everyone’s mind at some point. If a tennis player stepped on court thinking that they were not even going to win a game, then that is probably what will happen in most cases. Yet, despite trying to be optimistic, there is no doubt in my mind that some players struggle with thinking positively when they step on court, especially against much higher ranked players.
Whether they admit that doubt consciously or it’s hidden subconsciously, it is still present and will negatively impact their performance. Yet, how do you push those doubts aside? It does not matter what anyone tells you, because the only voice you hear when you must decide what shot to employ is your own voice.
You push those doubts aside with conviction if you have done the work to get yourself physically and mentally in shape. Then you can trust your body to stay in the rallies and your mind to stay positive when things are not going the way you planned. While it sounds straight-forward, it is not always that easy to implement, especially when you have lost many times to the same player or have never won a match against that player. Nevertheless, you can implement positivity if you learn from the mistakes you made in your previous losses and come with a well-rehearsed new strategy.
If you continue to employ the same plan of attack that resulted in your previous losses, you will continue to get the same result, losing. The problem for many tennis players is that they are stubborn and refuse to change their strategy despite the abundance of evidence that is does not work.
For years Roger Federer could not handle the spin generated by Rafael Nadal to his backhand. Guess what? After years of doing the same thing and getting the same result, Federer finally used the 2016 off-season to practice a new strategy to counter Nadal’s spin. In 2017, Federer won all four encounters and now it is Nadal’s turn to find a new game plan to prevent Federer’s dominance over him from expanding.
There is no doubt that our mind can hold us back; however, if we can learn to tap into its power, our mind can be our greatest weapon.