Thursday, October 27, 2011

Do you struggle to maintain your mental focus at times? Me too!

Last night, my Ultimate Tennis mixed doubles partner and I didn’t play very well, which was curious since we’d played “lights out” just two nights earlier. In fact, we probably had one of our more solid matches together, one in which neither of us made very many unforced errors. We were “on fire”. Unfortunately that match didn’t carry over into this one, and one of the reasons was that we were unable to remain focused from the very beginning and then throughout the match.

It seems easy for those of us that play tennis to make excuses: after hitting a bad shot, some of us look at our racquets (as if it’s the cause) and/or look for any issue outside of ourselves to blame for our “less than stellar” play. For myself, last night, I have excuses in spades. Firstly, there was music blaring from the clubhouse at the neighborhood where were playing. This is fine for practices, but uncommon (at least for me) during matches. At our request, the club pro finally turned it off, but not before we found ourselves down a couple of breaks.

After the music was turned off, we began to come back; after earning our first break, I was serving at 3-5 30-love when our opponents had a disagreement about whether one of my shots was in or out. Since it was a floating lob, I have no idea how the player furthest from where the ball hit the ground could have made the out call, but her partner quickly corrected it. Our opponents wanted to play a “let”, having me serve again at 30-love but I informed them of the rule change that resolves this matter – when partners disagree on a call, they lose the point – in our favor and changed sides to serve at 40-love. Of course, this is when a minor confrontation ensued. I hate it when people don’t know (or don't want to follow) the rules. In any case, it was me who was now the “bad guy” because I knew the rule. I then lost my mental focus and we lost the game and the set 3-6.

While we started the second set better, e.g. more focused, we later lost it again without a tried-and-true excuse and folded at the end of the second set, losing it by the same measure. I know that I can’t expect to play as well as I can in every match, but it is frustrating to have two matches play out so completely differently just a couple of days apart. Since there was no physical issue for me to deal with, it must have been a mental issue that made the difference in my performances. Knowing this will hopefully help me to play better the next time.

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