When a player uses the visualization (imagination of events, situations, movements, emotions, etc.) at its highest potential, its learning process accelerates.
The visualization will also help the player before and during every match.
People use the visualization every day without realizing it, for example when they decide to go from one point to another in their city, unconsciously they visualize which way to go, the point of arrival and what to possibly avoid.
Also tennis players use the visualization during and before a match but they usually do it without realizing it and most of all in a negative way. For example when they think of the negative consequences of a defeat or even of a single wrong shot.
Take for example a professional player, who for the first time plays in an important tournament and starts thinking during and before the match.
“If I lose I waste my possibility to enter the part of tennis that counts.”
“If I lose I’ll go home and who knows when I’ll have such a chance again.”
“If I lose all those who support me will think I’m not good enough.” Etc… In this case the player is visualizing a failure and the future feeling if this will happen.
All this will divert the concentration and the player will waste precious energy because of the anxiety.
In order to solve this problem the player needs to visualize the success and the feeling after this becomes true.
This will not allow waste of positive energies which will help the player to find the way to victory.
WHERE AND HOW TO ADOPT THE VISUALIZATION IN TENNIS
VISUALIZE THE VICTORY AND NOT THE DEFEATI
The day and the last moments before the match it is important to imagine the victory, to visualize the joy of this moment in our mind, the happiness we will feel, the sense of satisfaction and the enthusiasm that will overwhelm us.
This will help us to think positive.
When the opposite happens, that is when we think negative, let’s suppress everything by imagining the victory and then concentrate to get it.
WHEN WE MAKE A MISTAKE
In this case, instead of cursing, beating the racquet on the ground and say a myriad of harmful phrases to ourselves (negative attitude that has consequences on the match) we have to physically distance ourselves from the point where the mistake was made and exactly visualize in our mind where the ball hit the ground, in which part of the court I was when I hit it, at which height from the net, how much rotation I impressed and how much power I used.
This kind of positive visualization has two good effects: it will distance you from negative thoughts and it will train your body to a similar situation when you will have to repeat the shot.
Another help will come from repeating the technical movement without the ball.
TACTIC AND STRATEGY
When the player is planning the tactic before the match, they should visualize (see in their mind) how to hit some shots’ combinations, how they will have to move in order to do it.
Players should visualize where to send their first serves and which ones to use (flat, kick or slice), they should visualize the correct movement and by hitting the desired shot they will visualize a perfect return and its direction, etc.
When then later they will play, reactions and decisions will be taken more quickly because decisions and directions have already been decided.
The same thing happens when we study and we simulate an oral test: in this case we will choose the words to use, the sentences, the subjects to which to connect, etc.
Planning things in our mind makes their execution easier.
TO ANTICIPATE THE BEHAVIORAL MISTAKES THAT ARE MADE
Another efficient use of the visualization’s technique is the anticipation of situations that could make the players lose their temper (a missed easy shot, a ball on the line called out, …) and the concentration or even drive them mad. Later these situations and the way to handle them will be visualized.
In this way players prepare for the moment when in real life these situations will happen and they will react right away and positively based on the previous plans.
Earlier I explained you how to react to errors and what to do and not to do: planning what to do and how to behave will help to have the learned positive attitude.
Tennis players often get nervous during and before an important match, maybe because they are not used to that type of pressure and public.
In order to improve this situation, before the match (or even one day before), the player should imagine the situation, maybe an important match, a final, with many spectators like never before in their life, with relatives and friends watching, right where the following day or just a few hours later they will really play the match.
When this will happen in reality, the player will be more prepared because the same emotions have already been experienced in their mind.
Have you ever watch the pole vaulting or the long jump?
In these sports the athlete, before performing, imagines how to jump the highest or the longest possible.
In the same way, the tennis player can imagine how they can handle the strain when they play harsh matches, they can imagine being flowing and quick, they can imagine being very strong in defense or in attack.
Mental images have a huge power!