Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pressure of being the best

Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Employee | Online Shop Manager 
Flickr: Christopher Levy

With the BNP ParibasOpen in Indian Wells, CA drawing to a close, we take a look back at the draw and wonder why so many of the tour's top seeds were dropping like flies. Players such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova & Li Na had unexpected losses where we can't help but question if the pressure of always winning is taking its toll. The more we win, the more stress we add to our game. We must win because we're the stronger player. We must win because we beat this opponent in the past. We must win because it's expected of us. The pressure alone can cause such mental anguish that the match is already lost. So what can you do to relieve yourself from that self-destructive path?

It's easy to be overwhelmed by negative thoughts when things aren't going your way. The best way to remedy this is to focus on your physical actions. Make a point to move your feet, watch the ball, and breath out as you swing. Turn you attention to the next point, not the final outcome.

Talk positively to yourself. Too many times we've seen players shout out in frustration, whack their foot with their racquet, or simply remain silent in defeat. Tell yourself 'good job' or 'come on' after winning a point. And for those points you don't win, give yourself a break--you'll get the next one.

Give yourself something to look forward to after the match. What gets you into your 'happy' zone? Seeing your kids? A new episode of your favorite TV show? A win or lose milkshake? However big or small, remind yourself of the things that will help make it OK at the end of the day.

Lastly, don't put all your eggs in one basket. In other words, find another hobby to invest your self-esteem in. Tennis is supposed to be fun!

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