The difference between smart players and the rest is that every smart player does the following things every time they compete:

Warm up correctly

Smart players are ready mentally and physically for peak performance from the first point on. For them the match started with a well-planned physical and mental routine way before they stepped on the court. 

Do not beat themselves

The most important question throughout the match is: Am I losing or is the opponent beating me?  If you are making things easy for your opponent through unforced errors, address the problem quickly by playing safer, choosing bigger targets and hitting higher over the net.  Never become the most valuable player for the other team! 

Adjust to the elements 

Smart players do not complain about the court, the sun, the wind or any other element they cannot control.  They simply view them as part of the game that day and adjust their games accordingly.  Complaining about the wind is as useless as complaining about the “net.”  

Cover tendencies

You are allowed to be surprised by an opponent’s shot once or twice, after that it is not a “surprise” but a total lack of focus and awareness.  This skill becomes even more important on key points when players tend to default to their favorite shots. Don’t be the player that comes off the court claiming the opponent kept surprising him/her with a wide serve the whole match!

Adjust to mistakes

Statements such as: “I hit all my serves into the net,”  “I missed every backhand wide” or “All my forehands were flying long” demonstrate serious inflexibility, stubbornness or the total inability to adapt.  In either case there is work to do in this area.

Change a losing strategy

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing but expecting different result, so if you are playing well but find yourself on the losing end, it is time to try something different.  Be more aggressive, hit the ball higher, come to the net, or anything else you think may work.  Anything, except continuing with the same game!

Focus on winning the battle against themselves

If during a match you are missing shots that you do not normally miss, the problem is seldom technical.  Trying to fix your technique will usually make things worse.  When things are not going well, the problem usually lies in your focus, emotional control and intensity. That is you battleground. The match is nothing else than a battle against yourself to achieve and maintain your optimal performance state.

So, I ask again:  Are you a smart player?  

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