Just think about the next point! But how?
I remember when I was competing in juniors and I still hear it very often on tournaments from coaches, parents after their player loses a point: ”Don’t worry, just think about the next point.”
When I look back, consciously or unconsciously I had no idea how to do it. I knew what that supposed to mean, probably something like, just calm down, nothing bad happened, you can still win the next point. It’s super easy to say it yes, control your emotions, especially if you lose previous five points in a row, it doesn’t matter, just play the sixt one as nothing happened before that, right? But how in the world you do that?
Every player is different and has his own techniques to ”think about the next point” or stay focused during the match but what if we concretize it and break it down into:
- Stick to the gameplan
- Fight for every point
- Think about the next shot
Stick to the gameplan is, of course, follow the tactics you entered the match, although you change it sometimes during the match. Fight for every point – watch Rafa. Yes, again, easier said than done. I will pay more attention to the third one.
Thinking about the next shot is how you can break down a point into smaller, more specific parts.What I mean with the next shot is ”simply” knowing where you want to position your ball after your opponent hits it, depending on where he stands, what kind of ball you are getting etc. – Peripheral vision.
One way on how to compare it is by juggling 3 balls. You have to look at all 3 balls at once, yet no ball at all as you pay attention to the two in the air and the one that hasn’t been thrown yet.This way mind is too busy by focusing on the next shot than to think about anything else that can redirect your focus.
Thinking about the next shot might calm you down and it might leave you ”in the moment” and therefore you will only think about the next shot and furthermore the next point. Doing that consciously might help.
Still, every player is different and uses his own techniques to ”Just play the next point” or stay focused and calm.
You win when the outcome of the match isn’t really the most important thing. But it’s things you do during the match that can lead to that outcome.