Turn a Bad Day Around

We all have bad days on the court, and they can come out of the blue, even the day after we've played great.  What causes this?  Well, you can get a PhD in sports psychology these days, and no one has an answer.  Welcome to tennis.  But does a bad first set mean the match is lost?  Not at all, but you have to be mentally tough to turn a bad game around.  If you're playing doubles, you might have a partner to help, but don't count on it.  Let's just assume the burden falls entirely on your shoulders.  What do you do?

First, watch how you describe the situation.  Typical statements are:  "I just can't play today," or, "I've lost my forehand," or, "I've never served this badly in my life."  Game, set and match.  If your narrative of the problem describes a terminal or fatal situation, you've just talked yourself out of a solution.  If your forehand is lost, how do you expect to find it?  Though such comments make emotional sense, they preclude a fix, and that's what you need.  Instead, put your fear aside, and ask, "What's the pattern to the errors?"  It may seem like it's a general disaster, but there's going to be a consistency to the mistakes.

Say your forehands are going long.  Further, say you're a good enough student of your game to know this is how your forehand breaks down.  Well, make sure your follow-through is high over your shoulder, and you're not wristy with your finish.  Take a little pace off.  Come up with a plan!  What really allows you to turn a bad day around is seeing a new future.  Walk back to the fence, put a smile on your face, and remind yourself that you're on the court to have fun.  Fix the problem.  You've done it before.  All you need is the courage to keep trying.  Never give up!

c Keith Shein