After his win at Wimbledon over Mark Philippoussis, Roger
Federer stated that it was not until he learned to relax
in his matches that he began playing well and winning
more. The pros are confronted with the same problems you
are when they play. They also must learn to stay relaxed,
fight self-doubt, forget their mistakes, believe in
themselves, not over think, and so on. Whether you are a
1.0 player or a 7.0 player, if you're human you will have
to deal with many mental battles. You may be thinking,
"But the pros should know better." Yes, you're right,
they should, but they are human pros!
Here is how it works for all levels. When you are a 2.0
player you look over and see the 3.0 players and think,
"wow, they are good; I'm not sure I can play with them."
Then when you become a 3.0 player you can play the 3.0's
confidently, but you think those 4.0's and the 5.0
players are really tough and too much for you. If you
become a 5.0 player you are a confident player, but you
may not believe you can play the 5.5 and 6.0 players. If
you became a 7.0 player (world class player), ranked
number twenty in the world, you would be an extremely
tough, confident and relaxed player. Right? Nope! The
same problems exist. The number twenty guy thinks, "I'm
only number twenty, I can't play with the top five guys."
And I suppose the number one ranked guy has to come to
terms with himself on whether he is worthy of this spot
or not or if he can even keep it!
The point is, EVERYONE constantly has to work on the mental
game. Do not think that because a person is better than you
that he or she has mastered the mental game. They have NOT!
Roger Federer is a world class player, yet he has only just
learned to relax properly when playing higher level players.
Your opponent, who may be a notch above you in skill, may be
a notch below you in mental toughness. Do not think that
because your opponent is a better player he or she is also
mentally tougher. Have fun, relax, believe in yourself, and
let your opponent worry about YOU!