Mental Game Secrets Of Winners
Don't Beat Yourself, Play Within Yourself,
and Play The Percentages
Bill Cole, MS, MA
A previous article provided an overview of the 7 Strategic
and Tactical Tools of Winning. Here is a wrap-up of the #1
tool, Don't Beat Yourself, and two more tools, Play
Within Yourself and Play The Percentages.
Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2000-2010
All rights reserved.
#1: Don't Beat Yourself
Winners talk to themselves differently than do losers. During
breaks in the action, winners intentionally use self-talk
to positively and successfully program themselves and to pump
themselves up mentally. Memorize a few of these and apply
them in your next contest.
1. "I'm not going to give any free points to the opponent."
2. "I will make the opponent hit the ball."
3. "I will make the opponent work for their points."
4. "don't give the contest away."
5. "don't give the opponent the win on a silver platter."
6. "I will give the opponent a chance to lose, make mistakes,
or get nervous."
7. "I going to make the opponent play well to beat me."
8. "I'm going to keep the ball in play."
9. "I'm going to reduce unforced errors."
10. "I'm going to work the point."
It is vital that you be scrappy and dig to get all balls back
in play. Remember: the worst-hit ball that lands IN is far
better than the best-hit ball that lands OUT. You DON'T even
have a chance to win if you try for perfect shots, and they
go out. AT LEAST you have a hope of winning the point if you
get the ball in the court. The question is "How many shots
are you willing to miss before you decide to just get the
ball in the court, no matter how you do it? If your threshold
for errors is high, you will continue to bang away and lose
point after point. Only when you decide that you are sick
of being so erratic will you begin to maintain overall steadiness.
Remember, don't beat yourself-your opponent is already working
#2: Play Within Yourself
Select the strokes, shots and tactics you KNOW you can execute
that you have a reasonably high percentage chance of making
and avoid those that you have a low percentage chance of making.
By definition, you can't play your very best all the time.
You can often only play slightly better than your normal ability,
so don't try to play over your head. If you can win by playing
average, do so. If a basic, average shot or tactic will win,
use that. Don't use a $2.00 shot in a 2-cent situation. Know
yourself and play your game, not someone else's. Know your
limitations and stay within them. Play the game you KNOW you
can play, not the game you HOPE you can play. Play the same
way you play in practice and don't add extras in a contest
because you don't think your usual game is "enough" against
a tough opponent. Don't allow fear and doubt to make you play
out of your groove and normal ability zone. Maintain an awareness
of your shot choices as you play, and make sure they are shots
you own. Avoid those shots you make rarely or once in a while.
Go with the tried and true. This gives you your best chance
of winning. You will also enjoy yourself more and be less
#3: Play The Percentages
Playing percentage tennis means knowing when to play safe
and when to take risks. It means already having the game's
high and low percentage plays identified, ahead of time, so
when you are playing you can select various intelligent shots
quickly. Better still, practice the high percentage plays
so they are automatic and so you can call upon them at any
time, even under pressure. For example, down the line shots
in tennis are low percentage for three reasons. First, the
net is 2 inches higher than in the center on crosscourt shots.
Second, the court is shorter, only 78 feet long down the line,
but over 82 feet long crosscourt. Third, the court area to
make the shot is narrower down the line. So by definition,
crosscourt is always safer and therefore higher percentage
than down the line. It is also important to know the major
strategic and tactical levels of competing: defense, neutral,
offense, attack and emergency. This helps you select intelligent,
high-percentage shots that will probably work most of the
time. Percentage shots, not tricks, or desperation shots,
are what win. It is better to play a series of average shots,
instead of a few exciting shots, hoping to win quickly. Be
methodical, not flashy. Percentage play is smart, thoughtful,
savvy, seasoned play. Percentage players use their heads to
win, not just their emotions. Be known as a person who makes
wise choices and who avoids the low percentage options which
only work on occasion. Be a percentage player.
In our next article we look at the next two mental game secrets,
How To Adjust
and Know Why You're Winning.
This article covers only one small part of the mental game.
A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting,
pre-event mental preparation, post-event review and analysis,
mental strengthening, self-regulation training, breath control
training, motor skill training, mental rehearsal, concentration
training, pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building,
breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness
training, flow training, relaxation training, momentum training,
psych-out proofing and media training.
For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need
an assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental
strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport
psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot,
This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths
and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide
in creating your own mental training program, or as the basis
for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve
your mental game. This assessment would be an excellent first
step to help you get the big picture about your mental game.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness
and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching
Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports.
He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published
book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive
article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
Article Source: https://www.MentalGameCoaching.com
Return to The Mental Game
of Tennis Articles directory.