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Half of Tennis is Three Quarters Mental...

March 4, 2008 03:17 PM

DO NOT LET FEAR AFFECT YOUR TENNIS GAME
By: Stanley Popovich
Sometimes, fear and anxiety can get the best of us in the game of tennis.  The key is to know how to manage that fear and anxiety.  As a result, here is a brief list of techniques that a tennis athlete can use to help manage their fears and every day anxieties.

Occasionally, we you may become stressed when we have to play in an important match.  When this happens, visualize yourself doing the task in your mind. For instance, you have to play in the championship tennis game in front of a large group of people in the next few days. Before the big day comes, imagine yourself playing the game in your mind. Imagine that you are playing in front of a large audience. By playing the game in your mind, you will be better prepared to perform for real when the time comes. Self-Visualization is a great way to reduce the fear and stress of a coming situation.

Sometimes we get stressed out when everything happens all at once. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get their mind off of the problem.  A person could read the newspaper, listen to some music or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things. This is a great technique to use right before your next tennis game.

Another technique that is very helpful is to have a small notebook of positive statements that you can carry around with you. Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook that you can carry around with you in your pocket.  Whenever you feel stressed, open up your small notebook and read those statements.   This will help to manage your negative thinking.

When encountering a scary situation that gets us all upset, always remember to get all of the facts of the given situation. Gathering the facts can prevent us from relying on exaggerated and fearful assumptions. By focusing on the facts, a person can rely on what is reality and what is not.

Be smart in how you deal with your fears and anxieties. Do not try to tackle everything all at once. When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with a lot of anxiety, break the task into a series of smaller steps. Completing these smaller tasks one at a time will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.

In every anxiety-related situation you experience, begin to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. For instance, you have a lot of anxiety and you decide to take a small walk to help you feel better. The next time you feel anxious you can remind yourself that you got through it the last time by taking a walk. This will give you the confidence to manage your anxiety the next time around.

Take it one step at a time. Don’t try to do too much at the same time because you will be easily overwhelmed. Take it slow and go at your own pace. Remember that each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. You never know when the answers you are looking for will come to your doorstep. We may be ninety-nine percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that one percent to make a world of difference.

Take advantage of the help that is available around you. If possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your fears and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem.  By talking to a professional, a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future.  Remember that it never hurts to ask for help.

Any one who plays tennis needs to remember that patience, persistence, and education will go a long way in preventing fear from becoming a factor in your game.

 
OUR FEARS AND WORRIES CAN DISTORT THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION
By: Stanley Popovich
At times, our worries and anxieties can overwhelm us. In addition, our worries can distort our perception of what is reality and what is not. As a result, this may interfere with your tennis game.  Here is a brief list of techniques that a tennis player can use to help gain a better perspective on things during their anxious moments.

When feeling anxious, stop what you are doing and try to do something relaxing. A person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get their mind off of the problem. A person could get some fresh air, listen to some music, or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things.

 When overwhelmed with worry, a person may encounter a lot of scary thoughts coming at them all at once. Instead of getting upset, remember that these thoughts are exaggerated and are not based on reality. From my interviews with various professionals, I’ve learned that usually it is the fear behind the thoughts that gets us worked up. Ignore the fear behind these thoughts and your worry should decrease.

Remember that our fearful thoughts are exaggerated and can make the problem worse. A good way to manage your worry is to challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make your fearful or anxious, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and commonsense.

For example, your afraid that since you had a bad week in playing tennis that this will carry over to the following week. This depresses you, however your thinking in this situation is unrealistic. The fact of the matter is that there we all have time when our game is not up to par.  This doesn’t mean that you will always be playing badly. Another way of thinking about is that this could be a learning opportunity that might benefit you down the road.

Remember that no one can predict the future with one hundred percent certainty. Even if the thing that you feared does happen there are circumstances and factors that you can’t predict which can be used to your advantage. For instance, let’s say at your place of work that you miss the deadline for a project you have been working on for the last few months. Everything you feared is coming true. Suddenly, your boss comes to your office and tells you that the deadline is extended and that he forgot to tell you the day before. This unknown factor changes everything. Remember: we may be ninety-nine percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that one percent to make a world of difference.

All the worrying in the world will not change anything. Most of what we worry about never comes true. Instead of worrying about something that probably won’t happen, concentrate on what you are able to do. Try to focus on the positive and do not get upset.  Everything else you can leave in the hands of God.

Alcohol and substance abuse or any other addictions will not take away your problems and other worries.  In the short run, they might make you feel better, but in the long run these addictions will only make things worse. You need to remain focus on finding the solution to your problems and alcohol or drugs will not help you in finding the answers.

In every anxiety-related situation you experience, begin to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. For instance, you have a lot of anxiety and you decide to take a walk to help you feel better. The next time you feel anxious you can remind yourself that you got through it the last time by taking a walk. This will give you the confidence to manage your anxiety the next time around.

It is not easy to deal with all of our fears and worries. When your fears and anxieties have the best of you, try to calm down and then get the facts of the situation. The key is to take it slow. All you can do is to do your best each day, hope for the best, and when something does happen, take it in stride. Take it one step at a time and things will work out.
 
BIOGRAPHY:
Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to: http://www.managingfear.com/ 

 

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