Imagine the scenario, it’s the night before a big tournament or match. You’ve done everything possible to be in your best shape. You’ve practised hard and everything has gone really well. Leading up to the event, you’ve been so confident, all of your thoughts have been very positive, you’ve had total belief that you will come out on top, however, it’s the night before ‘judgement day’ and your mind starts to wreak havoc. Doubts creep into your mind repeating… you’re under prepared… you’re not fit enough… you’re technique isn’t going to hold up… you’re out of your depth!
This is a very common scenario. Whether you’re a top professional or an average club player, we’ve all been faced with these mental challenges. Weaker minded players can easily get themselves into a vicious circle, spiralling down, out of control with their confidence draining away even before match day.
So what’s the best way of dealing with it?
It’s best to embrace your thoughts, don’t fight them, this will just drain your energy. Listen to what your thoughts are saying then answer them with the facts… you don’t need to fear anything… you’ve done the work… you know how well you’ve been playing in practise… just trust that it will all just flow effortlessly when battle commences for real tomorrow.
Look forward to the event, tell yourself that you’re going to have fun because let’s face it, you’re much more likely to play well if you enjoy the experience.
Whatever you do, don’t put pressure on yourself, this will only create resistance making it almost impossible to get into the ‘flow state’. The ‘flow state’ is when the subconscious takes over from the conscious mind and everything just happens effortlessly, also known as being ‘in the zone’.
I would naturally find myself visualising the eminent match. I’d play the match over and over again in my mind, imagining doing everything well; holding the ball, volleying and controlling the ‘T’ area, executing accurate straight volley drops with plenty of cut, dying lengths etc. This would calm my nerves and would have a very positive effect on my game the following day.
What is there to fear now? Nothing – because I would have already experienced the match and executed the game plan to perfection.