The difference between smart players and the rest is that every smart player does the following 8 things every time they compete:
1) Warm up correctly. Smart players are ready mentally and physically for peak performance from the first point on. For them the match started with a well-planned physical and mental routine way before they stepped on the court.
2) Do not not beat yourself. The most important question throughout the match is: Am I losing or is the opponent beating me? If you are making things easy for your opponent through unforced errors, address the problem quickly by playing safer, choosing bigger targets and hitting higher over the net. Never become the most valuable player for the other team!
3) Adjust to the elements. Smart players do not complain about the court, the sun, the wind or any other element they cannot control. They simply view them as part of the game that day and adjust their games accordingly. Complaining about the wind is as useless as complaining about the “net.”
4) Cover tendencies. You are allowed to be surprised by an opponent’s shot once or twice, after that it is not a “surprise” but a total lack of focus and awareness. Don’t be the player that comes off the court claiming the opponent kept surprising him/her with a wide serve the whole match!
5) Adjust to your mistakes. Statements such as: “I hit all my serves into the net,” “I missed every backhand wide” or “All my forehands were flying long” demonstrate serious inflexibility, stubbornness or the total inability to adapt. In either case there is work to do in this area.
6) Cover the opponent’s favorite patterns on key points. Every player shows tendencies on the court and under pressure, players will default to their favorite shots. A smart player will understand the opponent’s tendencies and use this knowledge to tip the scale in his/her favor on key points – when it really counts! If you find yourself yelling: “He always passes me down the line,” you are probably failing in this area.
7) Change a losing strategy. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing but expecting different result, so if you are playing well but find yourself on the losing end, it is time to try something different. Be more aggressive, hit the ball higher, come to the net, or anything else you think may work. Anything, except continuing with the same game!
8) Focus on winning the battle against yourself. If during a match you are missing shots that you do not normally miss, the problem is seldom technical. Trying to fix your technique will usually make things worse. . When things are not going well, the problem usually lies in your focus, emotional control and intensity. That is you battleground. The match is nothing else than a battle against yourself to achieve and maintain your optimal performance state.
So, I ask again: Are you a smart player?