Growing up I often heard my coach yelling from the side-lines: “Focus” “Concentrate,” and although I was not quite sure what he wanted me to do, I sort of interpreted it as: “Do not get distracted.” Later as a coach, I yelled the same words at my players: “Focus,” “Concentrate.” But looking back, I never really explained to my players what I meant when I told them that. As a matter of fact, I am still not exactly sure what I wanted them to do, so I decide put down in words precisely what I am trying to tell my players when I tell them to “Focus.”

Be self-aware

Be aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical tension. Work hard to make sure you remain positive and relaxed. Eliminate any thoughts that are not helping or guiding you.

Know exactly what is happening in the match

How are you winning points? How are you losing points? Are you losing or is the opponent beating you?

Understand your opponent

Understand what your opponent likes and dislikes, does well and not so well. Pay special attention to his/her favorite patterns and make sure you are ready for them.

Have a clear strategy

Based on your analysis have a strategy and stick with it for a while. Use your strengths against the opponent’s weaknesses. Change your strategy if it is not working. Keep changing until you find a one that works

Be ready

Do not start the point if you are not mentally and physically ready. Perform a little check-up before you start the point and make sure that you are relaxed, confident and have a clear idea of what type of point you would like to pay. Will you be aggressive? Will you come to the net? Will you change your rhythm? Etc.

Watch the ball

During the point, the ball is your world. Watch the ball especially after it bounces. Keep your head still until the ball has left your racquet.

“Focus” and “Concentrate”- quite useless when yelled randomly, but extremely powerful when previously defined. 

Are you focused when you play?