Do you sometimes have negative thoughts during a match and have them come to fruition right away? Well, you can “train your brain” and overcome this problem.
For example, do you sometimes think to yourself, “Don’t double fault by hitting the second serve into the net.” And then you do. Or you get ready to hit an overhead on an important point and that Voice whispers to you, “Don’t miss it!” And then you do.
Well, I confess to be guilty of both; but I am working to overcome that problem. Like any other skill or strength, changing this pattern takes continuing training and practice.
You just can’t tell yourself, “Don’t do that anymore” and you will stop. Like learning to hit a topspin forehand or a new serve, you have to practice, practice, practice.
But WHAT do you practice? Try replacing that negative thought with a positive one.
When practicing my overheads during drills, as soon as I turn my shoulders and raise my left arm to “point up,” I force myself to say “Location. Location. Location.”
This not only replaces the negative thought, but by focusing on where the shot should go, it now gives me a better chance of making the overhead and putting it in a good place.
On that critical second serve situation, if you find yourself thinking negative thoughts as you are getting ready to toss the ball, step back away from the line and mentally regroup.
But remember, you can’t just say, “I’m going to run a marathon.” You have to work at it to be able to accomplish your goal.