March 3, 2009

Improve Your Mood on the Court

Do you ever find yourself on the tennis court in a bad mood? Maybe you're losing. Maybe you're playing poorly and you're worried that your partner is mad at you. Maybe your kid just got detention at school (again!). Maybe you just have had a really crappy morning and there's no one reason you're in a bad mood, you just are.

Well, let me warn you. Based on my own experience, if you don't snap out of that bad mood, you're going to lose. I have a few tricks I use to coax myself into a good mood on the tennis court. Any one of these usually guarantees that I will snap out of my funk and end up having fun:

1. Calm down. When I am tense, the unforced errors just keep coming. This is when I have to remind myself to get a grip, calm down, breathe deeply and then just play ordinary tennis. Nothing fancy or cute. Just get the ball back, stop the errors and wait to get into some kind of groove.

2. Take a break. Sometimes I need more than a few seconds to calm down. I need a real mental break of at least a minute. This might mean a slow walk back to my position. It might be a short "strategy session" with my partner. It can be a tied shoe that suddenly needs re-tying. Again, I just try to find a minute to calm down and refocus on the match.

3. Lighten up. At times, I just go ahead and acknowledge that I'm having a bad day, to myself and to my partner. I'll then try to make a joke out of it. Instead of discussing any kind of strategy with my partner, I often talk trash about the other team (sorry). I just try to say something to diffuse the tension I'm feeling and get into a happier frame of mind. And if my partner joins in, all the better.

4. Eat something. I don't know if this is really valid for everyone but it certainly works for me.

5. Remind yourself - it's only tennis. I may have a bad day today, but I'm pretty sure I'll play again tomorrow and could very well have a great day! So I try to accept those bad days, move on and enjoy the rest of my matches as much as I can.

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

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