A player's struggle will always be between the emotions and the mind. The mind must maintain control of the emotions, or else the emotions will dictate to and control the mind. With emotion at the helm a player's perception becomes distorted. He (or she) overthinks, overanalyzes, becomes confused, confounded and discombobulated. He is an emotional wreck!
The concept of "mind over matter" is the foundation in every area of life. When your mind is in control, you will operate and function on thinking. When your emotions are in control, you will operate and function on reacting. If you miss a shot, you react; if you lose a match, you react; if you receive a bad line call, you react; if your partner misses a shot, you react; if everything does not go your way, you react. You are an emotional wreck!
Reacting does not mean you are throwing tantrums. Reaction can be ostentatious and overt, or simmering and seething inside. The reacting I am talking about is the inner frustration, silent and subtle. That feeling you experience inside is from the emotional sting of the negatives, mistakes and failures. That feeling is what causes you to begin to doubt yourself, overthink and inevitably overplay. What once were simple strokes, now become mind-boggling hazards. You are letting your emotions dictate to your mentality.
Now what? Your only hope is to choose a plan to recover and recapture your mental control. This is where 'The Refocus Technique,' gate one of the Mental Toughness Sphere, comes in handy. My audio CD, "The Refocus Technique: Controlling Your Emotions in Tennis" clearly delineates this entire mental process of "the next shot is more important than the last mistake." Forgetting your mistakes and moving out of the Emotional Sphere and back into the Mental Toughness Sphere is the pathway of victory in tennis as well as life.Ê
"The next shot is more important than the last mistake" is one phrase you can repeat to yourself between points to begin the stabilizing process. Once stabilized you can serve or return serve and begin the point. You are overriding your unreliable emotions with steadfast thoughts.
Marya Mannes, an American writer, once said, "The sign of an intelligent people is their ability to control their emotions by the application of reason."
Change a few words and you have, "The sign of intelligent tennis players is their ability to control their emotions by the application of thought."
You must constantly practice thinking your way out of negative situations on the tennis court, not emoting. The Refocus Technique is designed to snap you back to OBJECTIVE REALITY, stabilize your mentality and shut off those SUBJECTIVE EMOTIONS. "The next shot is more important than the last mistake."
If the negatives, mistakes or failures still continue to haunt you, here is a visualization technique from Matt Fury's book, "The Unbeatable Man." Although this book was about wrestling, the mental principle still applies. Matt mentioned a situation when he was young where he visualized a wall between himself and the negatives. No matter how many negatives were thrown at him, each negative would bounce off the wall and could not get to him.
You, too, can visualize a wall between you and that emotional inner voice that keeps whispering to you about the negatives, the mistakes and the failures. Once the wall is up, visualize those negative thoughts bouncing off and putting you back in control.
The battle for control of your mind is an ongoing struggle between your mind and your emotions. You must have a mental plan in place to keep your emotions in check. Do NOT allow your emotions to take control of your mind. Why? Because every sport is a mental game. If you lose control of your thinking, it will be a long day at the courts! Control your emotions and you will inevitably control your game, your opponent and the match.