Mental Game Secrets Of Winners
How To Adjust and Know Why You're Winning
Bill Cole, MS, MA
This article continues a discussion of the seven major sports
winning strategies. The first three were discussed in the
Game Secrets Of Winners: Don't Beat Yourself, Play Within
Yourself and Play the Percentages. This article looks
at #4: Adjust To Conditions, The Opponent and Yourself
and #5: Know Why You're Winning.
Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2000-2010
All rights reserved.
#4: Adjust To Conditions, The Opponent and Yourself
A tennis match is not played in a vacuum. The opponent may
change tactics, the wind may begin to blow, the sun may come
out, you may become tired, one or more of your shots may stop
working and suddenly, how the match started is not what the
match has become. Notice what is happening around you and
within yourself. Take time to listen, notice, observe, sense
and learn what is different about the match. Do this between
points as a matter of habit. If you take your time, these
things will present themselves to you. Players who rush through
a match are oblivious to subtle changes and fail to adjust
to these new conditions. These conditions demand to be noticed.
Those who observe these changes and adjust to them will be
rewarded with victory.
Realize that your performance in all contests have peaks and
valleys. Nothing works all the time under all conditions.
That power serve that was working a few minutes ago now is
useless as it screams into the net. Give it up for a while
and just get your serve in to stay alive in the point. It
is rare that a tennis pro has every single stroke, shot and
tactic working at optimal levels through a match from start
to finish. Some days certain shots are not even working for
them at all. The pro adjusts or forgets those non-working
shots and finds another way to win. Under such difficult circumstances
this can make the win all the more satisfying. So, don't expect
to have all your tools working well at the same moment. This
is a rare event, for any competitor. Tennis is not a game
of perfect. It's a game of reality.
Learn how to win when you are NOT playing well and you will
become a very tough competitor. The person who continually
adjusts, wins. Go into every match looking for the variances
of performance and make allowances for them. This makes competing
more interesting and challenging. The matches you will remember
for years to come are the ones played under the most trying
circumstances, win, lose or draw. Adjust continually.
#5: Know Why You're Winning
A major strategic task in sport is to place your strengths
into the opponent's weaknesses. You have to know which is
which on a moment-to-moment basis, as they change. If you
have tunnel vision, and bury your head as you plow through
the match, these tactical opportunities will be lost. To honor
the long-standing winning truth "Rarely change a winning game,
but always change a losing game", you need to be aware of
the exact reasons you are winning. Just giving the reason
"I'm playing well, and that's why I'm winning." is not detailed
or helpful enough. You need to know why you are winning so
you don't accidentally change your course of action. How can
you purposely continue a winning tactic if you don't know
what it is?
Knowing why you are winning is one of the most difficult skills
to learn in sport. To become good at it, you have to think
like a detective. You have to observe cause and effect in
the game and determine why you are winning due to a specific
reason, not a general one- ("I'm winning because they are
playing bad" is a useless thought). Why is this important?
If you believe, for example, that you are currently winning
because you are being aggressive and rushing the net at every
opportunity, yet in reality are actually winning because you
are playing steadier than the opponent, you may make a fatal
mistake. You may decide to become even more aggressive. Or,
you may not maintain your actual steadiness. In either case,
since you are less steady, your "reason for winning" is now
gone. You were laboring under the illusion that aggression
was winning for you. It was not. Steadiness was doing the
trick. Now you have changed your winning game and violated
the cardinal rule of championship competition, Don't Change
A Winning Game.
To notice why you are winning, keep track of how you win individual
points. Are you hitting winners or unreturnable shots? Are
you just being steady and letting the opponent miss? Are you
running them around? Are you making them play shots they don't
like? Are you making them play pressure shots? Are you making
them play low percentage shots? Are you rushing them? Whatever
the reason, your task is to find the reason or reasons you
are winning and continue those tactics. Observe, notice, listen
to what the opponent is saying because they might inadvertently
tell you ("I hate those shots deep to my backhand!"), ask
your doubles partner, your coach or anyone who watches your
matches. It is extremely difficult to "watch yourself" play
during a match to determine why you are winning. Take your
time between points to replay the points mentally and use
the time after the match to reflect on how you "got" your
Be Observant And Wise
Continually observe conditions. Set realistic expectations.
Adjust. Be a detective. Always change a losing game. Rarely
change a winning game. 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
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