"Be positive", "try to relax", "stay in the moment”, "just do it”, "let it happen "
If only it were so simple but hearing Novak talk about his fears on court and enlisting the help of Boris to help deal with the big moments in the slams only go to show how difficult it can be to "relax" and "let it happen" on a tennis court.
So what can we do to help reduce our anxiety in the heat of the battle?
To keep this as simple as possible I I would ask you to remember my two favourite sayings:
1/ Control the controllables
2/ Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable
Control the controllables is my favourite saying from the sport psych geeks which means do everything you can to take care of the stuff you have control of
e.g. training/diet/100% effort always/racquets ready/warm up routines/ in between point routines/ cool down routines/ respect your opponent etc etc i.e. everything to do with what you have control over! You don't have control over the outcome unfortunately as your opponent has a large say in that one!
2/ Competing in tennis at any level isn't always a relaxing experience and it can make one feel uncomfortable to say the least! But how can you learn to be comfortable in these uncomfortable situations?
Answer - expose yourself to the competitive world in a gradual manner and at the appropriate level. Becoming familiar with competitive situations at the correct level is a very important starting point. This may be playing practice sets with a friend for the less experienced player or entering a relatively unimportant tournament (to you) for the person who has more experience.
You don't want to jump in at the wrong level of stress! Gaining familiarity and gradually increasing the stress levels re quality of opponent and/or the perceived importance of a match/event is a very important factor allowing you to progress.
Remember how long it took Andy Murray to win a Grand Slam final and he put down his Wimbledon win to the fact he had been there the year before. Familiarity is a huge thing and of course perseverance! There are no guarantees that you will win eventually but a certain degree of persistence will help!!
And finally, try to enjoy it ,especially the big moments. If you've controlled the controllables and learned to be comfortable (ish) being uncomfortable I reckon your performance might be a good one!