Here are some ideas for staying in the moment during pressure situations and for keeping your concentration during the entire duration of the match.
Be PERFORMANCE DRIVEN rather than result driven. Avoid focusing only on winning as this puts you under too much pressure!
SET appropriate and achievable GOALS and ensure that your level of expectation is not too high
Avoid adopting a perfectionist mentality and allow yourself a reasonable margin for error – play the percentage game! Strive for excellence (not perfection!) and be patient – give yourself a chance to win!
To be mentally tough and stay in the moment in pressure situations during the game, you need confidence in your ability to win the match – accompanied by strong self belief when it comes down to the wire – knowing that you can beat your opponent in the “big” points of the match!
Stay calm and do not panic when your opponent is pressurising you and you are down in the match. Control your frustration and do not pout! You must believe that you can recover and fight back to win the match.
Focus on one point at a time – do not get ahead of yourself in your thoughts and visualisation and stay in the present moment! VISUALISE SUCCESS! Cast out negative thoughts of failure.
MENTAL TOUGHNESS is a player’s ability to stay calm and focused and to stick to his or her game plan when experiencing pressure. If you panic you will lose the “thread” of your game plan. It goes without saying that you must have a flexible (adaptable) game plan – which is usually based on utilising your weapons and strengths and on exploiting your opponent’s weaknesses.
MATCH TOUGHNESS comes from playing tournament matches regularly and learning to be comfortable with the pressure of competitive matches and situations. Don’t fear failure and do not forget the challenge of the sport. You have got to be in it to win it!
LEARN from your losses and always practise as though you are playing in a match – with high intensity and commitment.
All CHAMPIONS love to compete. They relish the challenge of beating their opponent and accept that losses are part of the game that they love to play. Losing a match unexpectedly is not the end of the world. You have to “pick up the pieces” quickly, recover mentally and move on to the next match or challenge.
Have FUN by giving it your best shot – and being the best that you can possibly be relative to your potential. Good luck!