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Tennis Warrior
December 2004 Article

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Focusing on the mental battle

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Tom Veneziano

When you "go for your shot" and then miss the shot, you have two possible reactions. The first reaction shows a positive mental attitude. You think, "I'll make it next time, I will continue going for my shots." The second reaction is more negative. You think, "I'm going for my shots, but I'm still missing. I should stop trying." Which one reaction is yours? Do you have a pessimistic view of your misses or an optimistic view of your misses? Are you mistake oriented or solution oriented? I hope you are optimistic and solution oriented. If not, there's still hope!

To improve your mental ability to go for your shots, you must change your mind focus from the physical battle to the mental battle. Playing a match is not a battle between you and your opponent, it's a battle between YOU and YOU! The YOU that concentrates solely on the physical battle and the YOU that concentrates on the mental battle. If you lose the match, but win the mental battle, you've won! If you say, "that's fine but I still lost the match," you are once again focusing on the wrong thing. When are you going to wake up and get with the program?? Forgive my scolding, but YOU are the only one who can change yourself.

The physical part of winning is the easy part. It's the mental battle that's tough. Would you like proof? Have you won any matches lately? I'm sure all of you have. Whether you won or lost the match, how many of you consistently won the mental battle? I'm afraid, not too many. The mental battle is where the real war is taking place. You must CONSISTENTLY concentrate on winning the mental battle. Give yourself the freedom to go for your shots and if you miss, ACCEPT IT... AND THEN MOVE ON. Going for your shots does not mean to pulverize the ball every time. It is not being too careful and not being afraid of failing.

Stop confusing yourself by playing in too many different gears of thought. You are switching from the "go for your shots" gear to the "kind of go for it" gear, to the "I'm being careful" gear, then to the most disastrous "I'm a basket case" gear. Keep it simple. Think in one gear only: the "go for your shots" gear, whether you win, lose or draw.

Now, get out there, go for your shots and lose. You say, "that's not very positive." And I say, "you're still not getting it!" Going for your shots IS positive. YOU are the one making an issue out of losing. Your mind is still focused exclusively on the physical battle. You need to think positively; don't sweat the small stuff. Tennis is first about winning the mental battles. All great competitors LOVE THE BATTLE. Whether you win the match or not, the mental victory means big time trouble for your future competitors!

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This column is copyrighted by Tom Veneziano, all rights reserved.

Tom is a tennis pro teaching at the Piney Point Racquet Club in Houston, Texas. Tom has taught thousands of players to think like a pro with his Tennis Warrior System.


In Tom Veneziano's book "The Truth about Winning!", tennis players learn in a step-by-step fashion the thinking the pros have mastered to win! Tom takes you Step-by-step from basic mental toughness to advanced mental toughness. All skill levels can learn from this unique book from beginner to professional. No need to change your strokes just your thinking.

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