We all have done it. In Rafael Nadalâ€™s post-Wimbledon press conference, he said that although he won, he did â€œchokeâ€ when he double faulted during the fourth set tie breaker.Â But what really is the definition of â€œchokingâ€ in a tennis match?
So, we all have faced the tense situation in a â€œbig matchâ€ and not performed up to our own standards. But I think there is a difference between choking and letting the pressure affect your play.
My working definition of tennis choking would be: Not being able to physically make your normal stroke under a pressure-point situation.
During the French Open, one of the announcers said that the French term is â€œhaving short armsâ€ on the serve. Or over here, we say â€œcement in the elbowsâ€ or he â€œshort-armed that serve.â€
Choking, I think, is allowing the pressure to inhibit the movement of your muscles. Different from that would be making bad choices due to the pressure. How often have you hit a drop shot and pointed to your own head to point out how stupid the shot was? Or going for a blaster of a shot when the time is not right?
Similar to choking, those are actions that are influenced by the situation; but are much more controllable. You can more easily train yourself to be patient and play the right shot, than you can make yourself swing freely and loosely on match point against, second serve.
One great trick I picked up years back is forcing yourself to smile in tense situations. The physical act of smiling sends important, positive signals to the rest of your body â€“ and besides, your opponent will think you are nuts!
What do you do?