After working with several junior tennis players on their mental game,
Ive noticed that players limit their success when they focus on opponent
rankings or tournament seeding. As you might already know, comparing your
tennis skills to an opponent is a mental game no-no in my book.
When you make comparisons to your opponents, you are essentially saying
to yourself that they are better than you! When you look at the draws to
find out who you are playing, do you focus on seeding or player ranking?
Whats the mental game of tennis danger in comparing your ranking to your
opponents ranking? You make too many assumptions (or generalizations)
about who should win and who should lose the match. It may seem logical
that the number one seed should beat the number two seed right? You know
this is not always the case and this type of thinking can cause a poor
mind game for tennis.
Why? If you are losing the match to a higher seeded player (that you
think should win the match), how will you react? Yes, youll confirm your
pre-determined expectations about who should win the match and then tank
it. You wont be willing to fight back after losing the first set. Youll
engage with the here I go again syndrome.
I know its hard to not pay attention to who you are playing and your
opponents ranking or number of wins. I also realize that you can prepare
your game depending on the style of your opponents game. So you could
argue that knowing who you are playing can be an advantage. However, in
most cases its not helpful to your mental game when you compare your
ranking to other players in the tournament.
Then to compound the matter, players feel expectations from others to
win if they are the better player or have a higher ranking. Your
expectations about winning can turn into added pressure to win and fear
of failure about losing.
Youre tennis psychology tip for today: Dont focus on your opponents
ranking or the tournament seeding. Focus on your strengths instead of
comparing yourself to other players. Think about how you can perform your
best no matter the level of the opposition.