I continue to post psychological secrets of the tennis champions from the book Maximum Tennis by Nick Saviano.
Stay in Present, When You Are Playing Tennis Match
This is one of the keys to concentration. Learn from the past and plan for the future, but in the heart of the battle, if you are psychologically anywhere but in the present, you are in trouble. In tennis terms, this equates to playing one point at a time. Andre Agassi summed it up succinctly when he said: “I have learned the hard way that to lose the focus on one point interferes with your job. If you let up for one point, what’s going to stop you from doing it on two? You can’t run out the clock. You have to finish.” If you catch yourself dwelling on the shot you just blew, the set you just lost, or a bad call or if you start thinking about the trophy you are about to win, you are not giving yourself the best chance to win the point you are about to play. Remember, when the point is finished, it is history. It’s over, gone, and there is nothing you can do about it except move on to the next point. Is that easy to do? No. I never said it would be easy, but if you want to play your best tennis, it is a must.
It was 1977, and I was playing in my first Wimbledon championships against a player named Freddy McNair. It had been a long, tough first-round battle. I had been down double match point in the fourth set, and now I was serving the match 5-4 in the fifth. I hit an overhead away for a winner to make the score 40-0, triple match point. I turned to my friend and quietly said, “I can’t believe I am going to win this match”. Guess what? Freddy hit a few winners; I made a few mistakes, and the next thing I know I had lost serve and then the match, 16-14, in the fifth set. Tough lesson. Stay in present, and don’t focus on winning or losing while you are competing.