Mindset under stress

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by fuzzfactory, Apr 6, 2014.

  1. fuzzfactory

    fuzzfactory Rookie

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    How do you guys keep your cool in intense match situations? I've tried a few things.. including focusing on the ball (i.e. eye contact), my stroke mechanics, and pretending I'm just in a rally with the opponent. Most of these work for me, just wondering what you guys do?
     
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  2. merlebo02

    merlebo02 Rookie

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    I also do the eye contact thing.. I try and see the fuzz on the ball. I have also heard and read not to put any focus on technique when playing a match, that strokes should be natural and not mechanical. I also do the rally thing but instead of thinking about someone on the other side of the net, I pretend I am in a game with myself and my goal is to hit 10-15 balls back with never mind to my oppenent or what he is doing.. My focus is on hitting balls and not strategy at this point and use this sometimes to get myself out of slump.. I also try and focus on getting my feet moving as the first thing to go when tight/nervous is footwork… Another thing I do it try and control my heart rate and breathing, slow things down.. If I get nervous or anxious I start to rush things and a rushed shot is not a good one!!!
     
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  3. darthpanda

    darthpanda New User

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    try to have a blank mind. get the inner game of tennis. it is a great book about this type of situation in tennis
     
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  4. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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  5. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    The interesting thing is to understand why we make bad decisions when under stress. We can assume that when in situations of stress (read danger), the primitive part of the brain (the amygdala) reads the signal and essentially creates a fight, flight or freeze response to the danger. The problem is that the amygdala cannot determine levels of danger, only that danger is present and therefore something bad will definitely happen, which was fine for chimps, for example, as they either fought, froze until the danger went away or ran away themselves.

    However, this is where the problem for humans occurs - we are very bad fighters in many situations, so we freeze (choke) or want to run away (panic) In order to facilitate this fight, flight, freeze response a signal is sent to release a boat load of adrenaline into the system. This adrenaline rush allows muscle tissue to perform way above its normal capacity, but has a very unfortunate impact on cognition.

    When the heart rate is raised by adrenaline to around 130bpm, we have an impaired cognitive function to the tune of 70% (we have only 30% of our usual cognitive processing to work with).
    When the heart rate is adrenalised to around 170bpm, our cognition is impaired down to only 3% capacity - known as mind blindness!

    This is why human beings often make terrible decisions when under stress.

    We can overcome this by programming the brain with information which helps us rationalise the danger, developing understanding and coping mechanisms - which is where you basically sports psychologists helping athletes perform under pressure. This is best done through experiential learning (that is, being in the situation, but in a "safe" environment) and through learning the aforementioned coping strategies, which may include things like breathing techniques, "stop thinking", reframing and routines and rituals.
     
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