posted on: June 2, 2015
author: Brian Lomax
Ever find yourself wishing that someone would just be quiet while you’re performing? Recently, several people have asked me about how tennis players can deal more effectively with crowds or an unruly spectator so that performance is not affected in a negative way. In most sports, crowd noise tends to be less of a distraction because it is the norm. It’s expected. However, in sports such as golf and tennis, it’s not the norm. Silence is. A tennis player’s mental model of playing the sport doesn’t include noise or heckling so when it occurs, distraction ensues and performance typically degrades. High school tennis and college tennis can be challenges to a player’s mental model on noise if he/she has only played tournament tennis to that point.
To improve performance in the presence of crowd noise, you must change your mental model of what is included in a normal tennis match. In other words, when you go on the court, you must expect and be prepared for crowd noise and heckling. When it occurs, you deem it as normal and expected, and you bring your full focus back to your performance. It’s unacceptable to blame your bad performance on crowd noise and then do nothing to be prepared for it the next time. If it bothers you again, don’t blame the crowd. It’s your fault for not being prepared. Mentally tough competitors don’t make excuses; they make adjustments.
To aid in your preparation, you should develop what I call a Mindset Plan. Considering that you want to perform well in this situation, write down what you want the following dimensions to be when this occurs: your focus, your emotions, and a phrase or two that describes your attitude. If you can trigger these three dimensions of your mental game when crowd noise occurs, you’ll be able to shift your focus back to your game more quickly and not let the crowd bother you.
It’s all about being prepared and having a pre-programmed response to the distraction. Crowd noise and heckling ARE a part of the sport of tennis so be ready for it. Have a plan! It’s your job to understand that, and focus on what makes you a great competitor.
Brian Lomax founded PerformanceXtra™ in 2009 with a mission of helping athletes achieve their goals and their top performances more consistently through a progression of mental skills that enables them to focus on what is truly important.
Learn more about the author: https://performancextra.com/brian-lomax/