When I commit an error playing tennis it has been my experience that my mind will default to the negative. In the absence of something positive or neutral I will gravitate to what didn’t just happen.
Why didn’t I soften my hands on that volley?” “Why did I miss that easy groundstroke?” “What’s the matter with my serve?” Sometimes I even reply the error in my mind as I am trying to regroup.
Not helpful! To break this cycle, try this simple technique. It can “fill the band width” during those critical moments of play.
It’s easy. Just breathe in and out three times. Try it when you have committed an error, and then make a habit of it at the following times:
- The moment the ball goes out of play;
- Before serving;
- Before returning take.
By focusing on breathing I give my mind something neutral or positive to focus on. I sometimes add a very simple affirmation after the third breath, “stay loose”, “reach” or something else to help me concentrate on part of my game. I keep it simple, easy to remember and repetitive.
Teaching people the mechanics of hitting a tennis ball is an important part of learning to play tennis, but breathing and affirming are ancillary skills that are sometimes overlooked. When done right they can bring enormous benefits to all levels of play.