Here’s a simple trick to help you stay carefree when competing

So, you’ve entered a tournament that begins in 8 weeks. Training begins positively. You start eating well, your fitness programme has increased and you’re starting to hit the ball well. Confidence is high. Fast forward 5 weeks and you receive an email. “Your first match will be on the 18th of December at 9 am. Please press here to see the draw”.

So this is the million dollar button. Do you press the button? Do you want to see who you’re playing? In my experience, I’d say that 95% of players check the draw to see who they’re playing as early as possible.

Now there are both positives and negatives to this button. First and foremost it’s important to understand why players want to press this button. Players simply want to find out who they’re playing to aid them in their preparation, specifically for tactical reasons. For example, If they find out they’re playing a lefty, they change their training accordingly. As well as tactically, it adds to the excitement.

However, what are the faults? In my experience, finding out who I’m playing won’t necessarily change my tactical approach, but it will certainly make me either feel pressure or in some circumstances, no pressure at all. It’s this feeling that can either work well for players or destroy others.

So you find out you’re playing a player ranked higher than you. You feel nervous, you feel like you need to play well and this applies an unconscious pressure to your game. You turn up to your tournament, bag packed with Lucozades, your spare shoes and 4 rackets all perfectly strung with new grips. You walk on the court and there you are, already nervous due to the thoughts that you’ve experienced BEFORE you’ve even stepped on the court. You may perform well to the occasion as you enjoy being the underdog, or you may buckle under the pressure. However, this pressure doesn’t exist. It’s created subconsciously due to the actions the player made pre-match.

To switch that around, you press the button and you find out you’re playing someone lower ranked than you. You may immediately think “this should be ok, I don’t need to worry too much.” Once again this applies a subconscious pressure BEFORE you’ve even stepped on the court.

Now there are some negatives to not looking at the draw. Of course, this means your preparation may be slightly blinded, especially when it comes to tactics. However, good players alter their tactics to their surroundings so preparing in a specific way because of the draw won’t always work.

Have you ever heard someone say “that team is on fire?” Or, “be careful of your opponent, they look good.”

This opinion has been made and these statements create anxiety. Imagine blinding yourself to these emotions so that you can play YOUR game and won’t need to worry about the opponent.

So, next time you’re preparing for a match, don’t look at the draw and see what happens to you. It may make you anxious, or it may make you feel carefree. Give it a try!

Let us know if it works for you and leave your comments below….

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