Tennis matches are the ultimate test of your skills as a tennis player.
Not only do you have to pull out all of the shots (serves, forehands, backhands, volleys) you have been honing over the last few weeks, months, years………decades, but you also have to deal with what your opponent brings to the table…..the tennis court.
This is exactly the same connundrum that plays out on every tennis court (Wimbledon, Roland Garros, US Open, Melbourne Park, local club, park court) and between all players (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, you & me).
Almost all tennis matches are won and lost as a direct result of other factors other than your shots……sorry you lot who think technique is everything :-)
Yes shots are in the mix but all the other factors surrounding your game determine whether or not you get to play your shots well enough or not and this is where In Game Flexibility comes into play.
Your ability to move with the flow of the game, to get ahead of the wave, to roll with the punches determines how successful you are in the match.
Think about a skateboarder, they have to move with the flow of the terrain otherwise they are off the board.
If you surf you had better be ahead of the wave if you want the longest ride all the way to the beach and the boxer can’t stand still while their opponent throws punches especially when the opponent has the upper hand…….rolling in & out of the punches helps you to ride out the storm until you can get on top.
This leads me onto a really popular question that gets sent in (don’t forget you can send questions in whenever you want to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q. What do I do when my opponent tries to disrupt the game by throwing tantrums, taking too long etc?
I have a couple of people in particular who seem to do this whenever I get ahead in the match. I can’t prove it but it does seem that whenever I am doing well in the game they react in a negative way which I feel is as much about putting me off as it is about being angry with themselves.
What can I do to stop myself being affected?
A. Great question.
This is all about In Game Flexibility!!
Your ability to ride the wave when playing well, yet not get derailed when all this other stuff is happening is key.
I can give you my take on it…….I used to play a guy regularly in tournaments…..we almost always got drawn to play each other or we’d be in the same side of the draw and would meet after a round or two.
He was a terrible loser (I hate losing but he took it to another level) and would always make bad calls, take ages between points or scream at himself about how he couldn’t believe he was losing to me etc. It was a nightmare & it took me a while to get my head around everything so that it didn’t affect me too much.
My main adaptations were the following
1. I reframed the situation so that I could channel the frustration that used to make me lose control & the match.
I worked on focusing on the upcoming point and what I wanted to do rather than dealing with what was not under my control (him & his behaviour).
2. I told myself that his behaviour was only as a direct result of my good play and because I had the control in the match.
It was his negativity at play here and he should be left to deal with it.
I kind of played it out in my head that if I got involved then the negativity could flow from him to me, whereas if I stayed away the negative emotions would have nowhere to escape to so it would be left to burn & destroy him (sounds a bit like a superhero movie but it worked for me).
I also think he hated seeing me not react….it kind of made him even more angry.
Hopefully you can use my experiences to help you in similar situations or to think about your own individual coping strategies when similar situations occur.
This is exactly why the Black Book strategy I use as part of Beat All The Tennis Players You Want works so well….it helps you track and build up your experiences as you go so you grow as a player and hence your In Game Flexibility improves.
Let me know below in the comments about your similar experiences & how you coped with it (or didn’t)…also let me know if this (mental matchplay strategies etc) is an area you would like me to go into more regularly.