Advice for keeping the intensity level up.

davced1

Professional
We have all been there. You are up 5-0 in the 1st set. You play with good intensity cruising away and you can't miss. Then a piece of you says I've got this and suddenly you drop your intensity and become lazy. Maybe play a lose service game because there are so many chances anyway right? Eventually you do close out the set only to find yourself down maybe 2-0 in the 2nd set. That intensity that gave you the lead is gone and it's hard to get it back again. We had a saying when I played football (soccer), if we had the lead we said "think 0-0 now". I am not sure if it made any difference as the mind is not that easy to fool.

Are there any good mental approaches to this all to familiar scenario?
 
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TagUrIt

Professional
I sincerely believe it's about mental focus. There is no such thing as in the bag match. I've learned from the various sports I play NEVER underestimate anyone. Never assume you've won until you've actually won. I self coach myself through my matches and I may seem crazy talking to myself, I find it necessary. I've even gone so far as to write on my left forearm with a sharpie the words: focus, split step and follow through, just as literal reminders of what to do in the match. You have to find what keeps you focused whatever that may be . If you're beating an opponent, than BEAT them, don't let up because they aren't playing well or you're dominating the match. I also say to myself "There is no mercy in this dojo" :D
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
We have all been there. You are up 5-0 in the 1st set. You play with good intensity cruising away and you can't miss. Then a piece of you says I've got this and suddenly you drop your intensity and become lazy. Maybe play a lose service game because there are so many chances anyway right? Eventually you do close out the set only to find yourself down maybe 2-0 in the 2nd set. That intensity that gave you the lead is gone and it's hard to get it back again. We had a saying when I played football (soccer), if we had the lead we said "think 0-0 now". I am not sure if it made any difference as the mind is not that easy to fool.

Are there any good mental approaches to this all to familiar scenario?
Think "OK, now I'm to add another bagle set win to my achievements, cmon!"
 

Stretchy Man

Professional
A couple of seasons ago a had a lot of close losses where I would start pushing near the end. Now at the end of a set or the match, I remind myself how those losses felt, and to not play like a wuss again! Even 5-0 up, I tell myself I could still lose this but make sure I go down fighting. Seems to work.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
In the old days there was a player named Hackett. When he was losing, he'd drop his game. As if he's tanking. The opponent would follow suit. Then Hackett would raise his game, and sometimes the opponent wouldn't be able to get his back! Cool tactic.

Once I entered a tournament that I must have been too good for, (don't look amazed). I won each match 0 and 0. Why so lopsided? Because I never felt it was a sure thing. At 5-0 if I drop a game, I'm afraid my opponent will get new life, and make a come back. You can't run out the clock in tennis. There's no clock!
 

Searah

Rookie
not over until it's over.
if my body is infact dropping a level then i just gotta put trust back in my strokes and not hesitate!
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
We have all been there. You are up 5-0 in the 1st set. You play with good intensity cruising away and you can't miss. Then a piece of you says I've got this and suddenly you drop your intensity and become lazy. Maybe play a lose service game because there are so many chances anyway right? Eventually you do close out the set only to find yourself down maybe 2-0 in the 2nd set. That intensity that gave you the lead is gone and it's hard to get it back again. We had a saying when I played football (soccer), if we had the lead we said "think 0-0 now". I am not sure if it made any difference as the mind is not that easy to fool.

Are there any good mental approaches to this all to familiar scenario?
This is one of the most important mental disciplines that any tennis player can learn. I like to refer to it as "learning to count to one". I think I picked this up from some Vic Braden material I read a while ago, but I've heard other coaches hint at it, too.

Focus on this point and nothing else. Review a simple plan for how to go about winning this point - it's all you can do in any given moment of a match - play the point, and then reset and do it again.

This is easy to say and it may sound like and oversimplification, but it's tough and it demands some deliberate practice to get used to it in the middle of competition. You may use the exact same plan for many consecutive points - perhaps hit every ball deep to the backhand, hit every ball cross-court, hit deep shots until a short ball can be attacked, etc. Even when returning serve, we can plan what we're going to do with our returns and then go from there.

Regardless of whether we're up a set and a break, down a set, or neck and neck at 3-all in a third set, the idea here is that all we can do is approach the next point with our best effort and best plan of attack. Using this mode of thinking can make it much easier to stay sharp in any situation regardless of the score.

Learning to count to one during point play can easily be practiced with a hitting pal if you just play an occasional tiebreak during a practice hit. If you get used to this technique, you'll probably find that you're giving yourself more chances to control the action during many points compared with simply reacting to every ball that comes from the other end of the court. That can be a recipe for lots of scrambling.
 
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