Consistent performance is a hallmark of top players. They consistently play near their full potential while others experience significant fluctuations in their performance. What causes these fluctuations? If you can achieve it once, why can’t you replicate the same success next time? The crucial factors are awareness and control.
Consistent performers are just better at monitoring and adjusting their thoughts and emotions.
When facing challenges, it is important to assess your thoughts and emotions. Any negativity can hinder your performance, even the slightest hint of anxiety, fear, anger, or other destructive feelings. Therefore, identify and release these emotions and thoughts.
Maintain a positive body language
Body language impacts emotions the same way that emotions impact body language. So if you want to create a positive state of mind, attacking through both flanks: your thoughts and your body language.
Constantly monitor and fine-tune their physical tension level
Being too tense or too relaxed hinders optimal performance. You are looking for relaxed intensity. Intense in your focus and energy but smooth and relaxed in your execution. Work hard to find that line.
Be ready every point
When playing badly, it is very easy to let your past mistakes negatively influence the future. Therefore, it is imperative that you play “one point at a time.” Make sure you start each point ready: forget the last point, have a plan, and start positive and focused on the moment.
Give yourself clear directions
Only by pursuing clear and practical objectives will you be able to perform at your best. “Get the ball in,” “Do not double fault,” or “You are the biggest loser on the planet,” do not quite cut it. Replace those thoughts with ideas like: “Keep your head still,” “Watch the ball after the bounce,” or “Loosen up your grip” – ideas that are clear and under your control.
Watch the ball better
Unforced errors create anxiety, and anxiety has a negative effect on our ability to track the ball to contact. When we feel unsure, we tend to look up as we swing, worrying about our ability to hit our targets. Trying to find fine details on the ball such as the seams, the brand, or the spin will help you get your focus back on track.
Use your strengths
When parts of your game are not working, find alternatives. Run around your weaknesses and use your strengths as much as possible. Some days the job calls for trying to win with your “B” game, maybe even your “C” game.
Trying to reach every ball and get it in play is always important, but it becomes essential when you are not playing your best. Matches tend to turn on a dime. Winning one point that you should have lost may be all it takes to plant a seed of doubt in the opponent’s head or give you the confidence you lacked. Fight for every shot!
Fake it til you make it!
I left this one to the end because it is probably the most powerful strategy. Acting as if you are playing your best game is probably the most effective way to turn your game around. The secret is to act as convincingly as possible. You have to become one of your idols. How do Serena or Roger feel when they play? How do they carry themselves on the court? You have to evoke their confidence, focus, and poise. If you do it well enough, you will slowly start to flow into your ideal mental state, and things will start to turn around.
Take control of your game! Playing consistently up to your potential is mostly in your hands. Do not let the Tennis Gods decide your fate!