Last updated on 25-Oct-2011 05:52:09 PM
Please help me. I follow all your advices and I have noticed a great improvement in my results. This season I am playing in our local top division and I have started with a near 70% success rate. I should be satisfied but if I think of the matches I have lost I can see that I am still having the usual problem. I am not able to play as well as when I practice. When I practice I play so much better and I also enjoy it so much. I can serve well, I can even defend when required. When I play instead I am tense, mentally negative and my performance is probably 40% less than when I practice. I make so many unforced errors as I am anxious to finish the point quickly. I have tried everything but when the day comes I start tensing and when I actually play I do not feel relaxed (almost as if another person had taken my place). They say that the adrenalin flows and makes you play better but for me it is the opposite.
Please help me. I would be for ever obliged if you gave me a tip that allowed me to simply be myself.
Thanks to you and Jeff for your sterling work. You are such nice people and so dedicated and passionate about what you do. It is refreshing to follow what you do and what a pity that I do not live in Australia. I would so much like to personally meet you.
This is a problem that most players face all to varying degrees.
Firstly it is about recognising the problem, which you have done. Then key is to have a simple routine that you can rely on between points to calm yourself or keep yourself at the right arousal level. It can be as simple as walking around the court and bouncing the ball, perhaps taking a breath and then focusing on the tactic for the next point.
It is also changing the importance of the game to you. Understanding that it is not a life and death situation but a challenge to yourself physically.
There are other relaxation techniques that you can use as well. Try the deep breath in between points when you feel yourself starting to tense up. Straight after the breath focus on what serve you are going to do next, including what type of spin and where you want to place it. If you are receiving think about the tactic you want to employ for the point such as where you want to play the ball in the rally or what type of return you want to make. If you start to focus on the processes you won't have time to worry so much about the result.
Also take a look at other Ask the Coach questions in the Mental Preparation topic. These may also help.