Developing the ability to focus, to center or concentrate, can be difficult because you must filter out your normal awareness of the surrounding environment. In this regard I have had experiences with several top players.
Maria Sharapova—Her focus is all tennis.
Whether it’s her between-point routine where she’s looking at her strings or she has her eyes glued to the ball during play, she’s on a mission. Novak Djokovic—Sometimes called “the joker,” he’s not afraid in a critical moment to turn to the fans and put on a show or look for support.
John McEnroe—He argued consistently throughout his matches.
Statistics showed he was able to focus on the ball right after these outbursts and win 80 percent of the points. Many opponents thought he did this to break their concentration.
Boris Becker—To stay focused, Boris relieved frustration with controlled gestures of anger.
For example, if he missed a shot, he slapped his leg and yelled some German phrase. Or he glared at the umpire, walked up to him, and let everyone in the stadium know that he was putting him on notice.
Jimmy Connors—He put on a complete television show with every point, every set, every match.
Billie Jean King—She frequently mentions that during a match she was so focused and so into the next point that she would forget whom she was playing.
Her attention centered on the ball and the point she was currently playing.
I could go on forever, but it all boils down to one factor: being ready. Are you ready for the next ball, the next stroke, the next point, or whatever you are doing?
Are your mind and body focused on being ready to get into gear without losing the edge?
I have learned many things from my students: - What’s happened is history.
You have no control over the past.
- We are all human and subject to breakdowns.
- The most drastic penalty you can get is one point against you.
- There are many ups and downs in tennis matches. The players who can keep positive and compete through the downs without giving up mentally have a great advantage.
- Remember, it isn’t over until it’s over.
A cliché applies here: “Never change a winning game, except perhaps to intensify it”. Don’t change from a baseline style to serving and volleying. Stay with the game that enabled you to succeed. Obviously, winning one point at a time and not thinking about the score are the habits of winners.
Choking, or giving away a match or game, is something every athlete must cope with. No one is immune. Some mask the feeling better than others do. Losing when victory seems imminent occurs in all sports. There isn’t a formula, but there is one thing you can do to avoid giving away a match.
Train yourself through quality practice sessions, and learn to put a match away when ahead. Remember, quality practices generate quality matches. by Bollettieri