Went into full "micro management mode" meltdown need some advice...

Legend of Borg

G.O.A.T.
so this is something that has been a recurring problem not just in tennis but in a lot of things

basically you know when you're free swinging, not really thinking about how you're doing it just going off of feel and instinct, and then you suddenly decide that the next game or point is REALLY important and suddenly you feel locked up and scared to even swing the racquet? suddenly you don't even know how you've played this well until now and have a sudden drop in confidence

i think the technical name for this is choking but i'm not sure

it's when things were working fine before you thought about them then you try to micro-manage every single detail and everything falls apart because you overthink every stroke and every movement you do

it feels terrible because i feel like i lost my touch or whatever you want to call it

since this seems purely a psychological problem, is there anything that can be done to prevent this over-analysis of strokes and freezing up and being afraid to go for your shots?
 

RetroSpin

Hall of Fame
There are two issues here. One is a breakdown in stroke production. The other is a breakdown in tactics.

To address the former, it's good to have some simple keys to fall back on. I like to concentrate on seeing the ball at impact and making sure I turn my shoulders.

For the latter, I think experience helps a lot. It's easy to fall back into "push" mode when you get nervous. You have to concentrate on properly executing your strokes and let the results take care of themselves.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
Yes... keep playing!

One of the benefits of solid practice is that it helps us to do more things automatically when playing a match. That means we have a better ability to hit shots without thinking about them. It's also important to gain match experience so that we're more familiar with that setting. "Match management" is something that usually needs to be learned.

You're right about the psychological issues going on through a match, especially compared with practice where we can focus more on ourselves instead of watching an opponent. One important issue to consider for your matches is the importance of every point - no point is a "big point" compared to the others, but none of them are meaningless either. Learn to treat each one with the same deliberate approach and you shouldn't be so susceptible to getting tight.

This is a mental ritual that takes some time to adopt, but you can practice it even when you're not playing a match. Try playing an occasional practice tie-break with a hitting pal and do nothing more than think about a plan for next point. Do that, then reset and plan the next point, even if you're returning serve. Always easier to operate with a simple plan.
 

shindemac

Hall of Fame
This question was just asked yesterday. Same answer. Yes, you can do things to get mentally tough. Best way is to stop over analizing. If you are prone to meltdowns, then you need to retrain your brain to stop doing that otherwise it will happen.
 

Legend of Borg

G.O.A.T.
also something I've noticed is that this tightening up happens a lot when there is someone that I perceive as "weaker" or someone I have to beat at all costs and that I can't lose to them

basically, ego
 

shindemac

Hall of Fame
also something I've noticed is that this tightening up happens a lot when there is someone that I perceive as "weaker" or someone I have to beat at all costs and that I can't lose to them

basically, ego
Yes, this happens. I need to win this point; I need to get my serve in; I need to beat him. You need to stop thinking these thoughts, then you can beat him.
 

Lance L

Semi-Pro
Yes, this happens. I need to win this point; I need to get my serve in; I need to beat him. You need to stop thinking these thoughts, then you can beat him.
You have this right in my experience. For me it is about changing what is important. Forget about winning or loosing, and put your energy into how you are playing and executing.

I try to think about
1. Footwork: My footwork is really not good, and I'm working on improving it. When I play I think about tactics, and how my stokes are working, and the score, but I really try to keep the attention on how my footwork is going, am I keeping my knees bent, staying solidly in the ground and moving well.
2. Am I having fun by playing how I like to play. I like to play aggressively, trying to win the point. I'm not reckless, but I hate to sit back and wait for my opponent to loose.

Notice neither of those are about winning or loosing? If I play well and on my own terms, that is the goal. Winning or loosing comes second.
 

Legend of Borg

G.O.A.T.
hm, when the inner game becomes a big problem, I like to turn to Tim Gallwey's two books on this subject

he describes the problem nicely and gives practical advice

I just remembered I have "Inner Tennis: Playing the Game" which is a gold mine
 
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