How many times have you come out of the gate digging in, grinding out points to win the first set only to see the next two sets go down the toilet? I have seen this scenario far too many times. It was much more common when my son was younger but I still get a glimpse of it every now and then.
Our earlier coach used to tell our kids to stop taking a moment to look at the view from the top. While you are taking your moment to stop and enjoy the view, marvelling in the glory of your accomplishment, your opponent is looking for a way to knock you down. When you think about it, a tennis match is very similar to a strenuous climb up a mountain. You are pushing yourself to reach higher and higher and the end of the match is like reaching the summit. The problem is often we see the climb as being over too early or we want to rest when we reach a small plateau. It is our natural instinct to take a minute and catch our breath, take a look around and enjoy the view. When we finish that first set with a victory we want to take a second to pat ourself on the back, reflect on the glory of having reached this level, meanwhile our opponent is looking for the opportunity to pass us on the journey to the top.
It is often only a matter of time before your opponent figures out the timing on your serve, the pace of your game, your tendencies to go cross court or down the line. You have to be vigilant, watching for the signs that he/she is on your heels getting ready to pass you up. When you feel them breathing down your neck, anticipating your every move, it is time to change it up, dig a little deeper reach a little higher. You can’t do any of this if you are too busy enjoying the view.
So next time you are on the court and you feel like you have just finished an amazing climb such as winning a long point, a tie break or a set, don’t stop. Don’t give yourself a chance to take a breath and enjoy the moment. Remember it isn’t over until you have reached the top of the mountain which is the END of the match. It’s anyone’s game until your flag has been pierced into the snow-capped peak claiming victory to be yours.
*(if you received this twice my apologies my wordpress is not working correctly today)