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Playing with Pressure

 When you’re playing in the semi’s or finals of a championship or a tournament the pressure can start to get to you and the match can feel more like sitting through a performance evaluation than having fun.  With that in mind, here are a few tips you can keep in mind.
You’re the 1%.  Don’t worry about the pressure to win the championship or impress the crowds on the sidelines.  By making it to the league championships, you’re already doing better than almost everyone else in the state, so why sweat making it farther?  Sure it would be nice, but don’t put pressure on yourself to try and over-perform.  
Those who dwell on the past are doomed to repeat it.  When a point is over, it’s over.  Don’t dwell on the shots you’ve missed or you’ll probably keep missing shots.  On the same note, don’t worry about that ‘bad call’ that your opponent made.
Think positive.  When you are getting ready to serve, never think ‘just don’t double fault’.  If you’re thinking of what you don’t want to do when you go to take a shot you’ll probably do just that.  Instead, think of what shot you do want to hit and your chances of success are much higher.  
Eat and drink like a farmer.  Sticking with water and whole foods should always be your plan when you’re competing.  One beer is great to celebrate, but if you kill a six pack, your performance the next day will show it.  Similarly watch your snacks; nothing’s worse than crashing from a sugar high in the middle of the match.  
Play for yourself.  If you’re not having fun, why are you playing?  When all else fails, take a deep breath, study your strings, and remember you paid to be here.