Change the mindset during the tennis patch

Our daily lives are full of episodes in which our performances are affected by the moods and emotions we feel at those moments. Sometimes we may feel too angry to listen to someone whose ideas might be useful to us, or we may be pessimistic about the possibility of being able to do well, or we may feel that we are not capable, so we tackle a task with little conviction. How often do you think, “If I hadn’t felt that way, I would have definitely done better.” These are common thoughts that highlight the central role of emotions.

The same happens on the court and … rackets slammed on the floor, getting on each other’s nerves, thinking that we will never play a game again, getting angry at the opponent who wastes time or at fate that only makes our responses go out are ways of reacting that we have all stumbled into.

A useful way to improve one’s awareness in relation to the influence of emotions in the game of tennis is to think back:

To the best matches one has played, focusing on the actions taken to make them possible and the emotions felt. In this way you become more aware of the way you think and feel and how this influences the way you play.
at the first few games of the games, identifying what the prevailing moods and thoughts were. Am I happy or do I wish I were different? What are the emotions and thoughts that might improve the effectiveness of my game at the beginning of the game?
Avoid pessimistic explanations that lead you to not change and to accept your game in a fatalistic way, taking for granted a thought like: “I’ve always made these mistakes and I’ve never been able to change” or “I’ve always been a nervous guy, who gets angry easily when he starts to make mistakes and I can’t change now after a lifetime of playing like this.

It may also be true that you have tried to change without having achieved a satisfactory result, consequently convincing yourself that you cannot improve. In almost all cases, however, these tests of change have been done incorrectly, without following a system of improvement. Often people try to change a behavior (for example: getting angry after a mistake) by telling themselves not to do it (“You mustn’t get angry”). Usually the effect of this action is to continue to feel angry. Everyone has heard from the tennis teacher that to calm down and recover you have to take a deep breath; you follow this advice but often it doesn’t work and, therefore, you convince yourself that breathing deeply is useless.

Where did these tennis players, who also tried to react to difficulties, go wrong?

The first case shows that we don’t change by simply telling ourselves “not to do something”, otherwise our changes would be implemented with phrases: you’re angry, just say “don’t be angry”, you’re agitated say you don’t want to be agitated, you’re distracted say you don’t want to be, and so on. Saying phrases to each other is useless if you do not affect your emotions at the same time.

The second case is very typical in sports, because even many athletes do not know how to perform correctly a deep breath, and when they try to do it they inhale little air, maybe they take it in jerks and send it out too fast, in this way their breath looks more like a sigh or a puff. For this reason, it is not effective. On the contrary, everyone can learn to take a deep breath, but first you have to practice doing it correctly, its effectiveness must be tested in training and only then it will be performed in the game; at that point there is no doubt that it will be useful to reduce emotional stress.

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