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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Coaches Q and A: What are some mental exercises to prevent me from choking when I am ahead?

In this month's installment of coaches Q and A, Andy Brandi of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida offers some tips to assist in closing out matches when in the lead.

We are all faced with the demons that arise when closing matches. It affects everyone at every level of the game. Choking happens when we lose perspective during a match and we focus on the wrong things. Instead of thinking of what we did to get to that point of leading the match, we turn our thoughts to what to do to not lose the match. Choking happens in all aspects of life and it is about how you confront fear!

Different things work for different players:

The great Harry Hopman use to tell his players to take two deep breaths and go for the lines.

My partner Harold Solomon used to tell himself to hit the ball.

Some people try to concentrate on their breathing to relax themselves.

Others try to smile and relax the facial muscles.

Because when we are choking we do not move our feet, thinking about using aggressive footwork might do the trick.

Be positive and reassuring!

The bottom line is to focus on playing one point at a time. Do not focus on the finish line, but what is in front of us.

Refuse to panic.

Don't play to the score.

Don't make a point larger than life. After all, every point counts the same.

Don't think about the outcome.

It is all about conquering fear.

Try some of the suggestions above and see what works for you. Everyone is different and if I had the formula for conquering choking in a a competitive situation, I would be a billionaire! Best of luck!

For the complete archives of the Coaches Q and A feature, see the category link in the left sidebar.

Do you have a question for Andy or Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.


Austin said...

I've never quite understood how some players freeze up once they go up 5-0 or 5-1, all mental. Same can be said when a bball or football team goes up 20-30pts and then it all dissappears.

On another note, where did this come from? After losing the opening set of his 1st round match 4-6, Donald Young has won the last 8 sets by the scores of: 6-2,6-2,6-3,6-2,6-3,6-1,6-3,6-1. He plays in the final against Mighty Mike Russell tomorrow in Calabassas. Good to see DY3 put together a nice run, especially late in the year.

Unknown said...

The question asked for "mental exercises" -- which I interpret to mean "things I can do in practice."

The answer focused on things that can be done during the match.

Man in the Moon said...

you brought it up!!! Not me!!!

DY wins challenger and drops 42 spots to 187.

BTW - you are a nice guy- but your reporting is certainly bias.

Why not give all the facts -- and my problem, frankly is not with DY, never was -- my problem is with you --

You quote the lopsided scores - in his climb to the winner's circle -- yet you do not mention who he beat-- Taylor Dent - -basically injured this entire year --

and two qualifiers in the 200-300's -- those are the facts of the situation - not just the highlights!!

John said...

Man in Moon. You may need to take a pill or something....breathe deeply now....ok, ok....it'll be ok.

Not every post on this blog has to be researched to the degree you imply. If you have the time to gather that data and build on someone's post, do that. And you don't need to puff your chest out and attempt to degrade that person (to make yourself look better)??

Are you this much fun at parties too? Topper......

Man in the Moon said...

please don't think for me and I won't think for you

there was not even a hint of chest pumping or degrading --

just the facts, just the facts that is all I request- and if you don't have the facts -- you are fair game

enjoy the rest of the day

John said...

Man in Moon.....uh, not thinking for you. If you reread my post -- just holding the mirror up so you can see what you sound like to others with all your exclamation points (chest pumping, etc).

Man in the Moon said...


(1) !!!! does not equal chest pumping in my world or in the English language (emphasis added)!!!

(2)" don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows"

(3) don't need a mirror to see what I say-- I know what I am saying - and I am not worried what I sound like to others --

and I still say, John, go enjoy the day!!

tired said...

Man in the Moon

Could you please keep your random witty quotes to yourself? Or at least try not to use them in almost every post? They're getting sorta old. Thanks.

Man in the Moon said...


"if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen"

"no one has a gun to your head" forcing you to read- what I write -

I will continue to write what and when I want --

and if you don't like it - then don't read it

you are certainly entitled to write your opinion and I am entitled to write mine

and "tired" - I hope that, you too can enjoy the rest of the day--

ACTUALLY said...

hey man in the moon, since i know how much you like correcting people. Taylor has not been injured all year. In the first couple months of the year he qualied and won a round at delray beach, won a round in houston ( on clay ) and qualied then rd of 16 at sony ericson in miami. beating 2 top 20 players. Let me just go ahead and state the obvious.... YOUR CLUELESS

Man in the Moon said...

Actually, John, Tired or whoever you are for your next response

I know that Dent played sparingly and did have a couple of wins throughout the year -- but it is clear - for anyone who knows about sports -- that you don't have to miss the entire year to be injured / hurt.

For the record, John, Actually or Tired or whoever you are

Dent played in 15 tournaments in 2009 and lost in the first or second round in 13 of those 15 tournaments.

I thought and still do that most of the people who read this blog -- can THINK (emphasis added) and have a little vision -

you and your buddies - (possibly just one person) because you (tired, actually, etc )never use even your own fake name- but change it to suit your mood)

really need things spelled out like you are a 4 year old ( no offense to the 4 year old).

You have no vision and can't go to the next step -- even when it is pointed out to you -- about the word injured.

It must really be tough to go through life that way.

The term "dumb is forever" - certainly suits you.

I can't really be angry at you - because you just don't get it!!

so whoever you are ( multiple names) go enjoy the day!!

Man in the Moon said...


Dent played in 21 tournaments and lost in the 1st or second round 15 times and did win one tournament

John said...

Man in Moon - you are coming across as having skipped your medication. Yikes!

You obviously have a lot of passion for tennis and time on your hands....and you do have good info to share. It's just too bad you have such a HUGE chip on your shoulder when you write because it takes away from the good you bring here. Doesn't really matter....people are still going to read.....just like there are a lot of idiots on the highway isn't going to keep me from taking trips.

Anyway, if it helps you to think multiple posters are really just one person (so that only "one" person thinks you're a little off), that's fine. But you should know that isn't the case.

ACTUALLY said...

were talking about someone who beats 2 top 20 players in one week. and your saying " a couple good wins "... and " basically been injured this whole year" who do you think you are? this guy can flat out play. Your unbelievable. leave this site.

Colette Lewis said...

I'm closing the comments on this post, because they are so far off topic now, and have been for some time. If you want to continue debating Young and Dent, please use this post instead.