Quick Mental Toughness Tip
Dec 05, 2023
I’m a 17-year-old tournament player who’s been told that I have good strokes, but I don’t feel as though I am getting the results that I should in matches. But Doc, can you please help me focus better? I’m thinking about other things such as school, tests, friends, girls, weekends. Please help me find a solution.
First, it’s very important to remind yourself before you play a match, recite this mantra to yourself: “This is the most important thing you’ll be doing for the next hour and a half or so. And I’m going to give it my best effort to be laser focused in this match.”
It’s very important to understand that concentration is a skill that can be practiced and developed. You can practice techniques to develop exceptional concentration and become a horse with blinders and laser focus. An excellent technique is staying within “THE HERE” and “THE NOW.”
“THE HERE” means to just stay focused on what is happening on your own court. Don’t pay attention to the noise, crowd, or the match on the court next to you. Focus only on what is going on, on your court.
“THE NOW” means to stay in the present and the cur- rent point. Do not think about the past such as an overhit you blew 2 points ago or how in the future you’re going to celebrate this win. I’ve seen players up 6-2, 5-2 and they start to think about how they will celebrate, instead of staying in “THE NOW” and then lose.
The more you practice these techniques, staying in “THE HERE” and “THE NOW”, the better your concentration skills will become.
As your skills develop (just like muscles develop) your concentration skills will become more automatic, and it will be easier for you when the time comes to stay in “THE HERE” and “THE NOW”. And you will become the horse with blinders. Furthermore, concentration skills are multifactorial and can be transferred to other areas in your life, such as school and later on your career.
So it is important to utilize these techniques I’ve shown you, and work on your concentration. And in doing so, I’m sure you will do better in the matches to come. Good luck to you.
Dr. Richard W. Cohen is a board certified psychiatrist who has won 16 USTA National Championships Gold Balls. If you have any questions or comments you would like addressed, please contact Dr. Richard Cohen at: Richardwcohenmd@gmail.com. This article also appears in the November/December 2023 issue of Florida Tennis Magazine. Be sure to subscribe for expanded coverage, exclusive interviews, and in-depth tennis news. Photos: Lucas Bower / Pexels.