This article appeared on the Zoo Tennis Blog - The blog is a great way to keep up with junior tennis at the national and international level. There is a lot of useful information there.
We are all faced with the demons that arise when closing m atches. It affects everyone at every level of the game. Choking happens when we lose perspective during a match and we focus on the wrong things. Instead of thinking of what we did to get to that point of leading the match, we turn our thoughts to what to do to not lose the match. Choking happens in all aspects of life and it is about how you confront fear!
Different things work for different players:
The great Harry Hopman use to tell his players to take two deep breaths and go for the lines.
My partner Harold Solomon used to tell himself to hit the ball.
Some people try to concentrate on their breathing to relax themselves.
Others try to smile and relax the facial muscles.
Because when we are choking we do not move our feet, thinking about using aggressive footwork might do the trick.
Be positive and reassuring!
The bottom line is to focus on playing one point at a time. Do not focus on the finish line, but what is in front of us.
Refuse to panic.
Don’t play to the score.
Don’t make a point larger than life. After all, every point counts the same.
Don’t think about the outcome.
It is all about conquering fear.
Try some of the suggestions above and see what works for you. Everyone is different and if I had the formula for conquering choking in a a competitive situation, I would be a billionaire! Best of luck!
Article by Andy Brandi of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute