Why Tennis Players Fail To Convert On Match Points

Why Tennis Players Fail To Convert On Match Points

The matches at Wimbledon 2007 are finally under way and we’ve already seen 2 very interesting matches where players failed to convert on match points.

Naomi Cavaday
©Getty Images/ J. Finney
First, Naomi Cavaday, ranked #223, failed to convert 2 match points against Martina Hingis and eventually lost 6-7, 7-5, 6-0.

And second, Tim Henman had four match points at 5:4 in the fifth set against Carlos Moya and didn’t convert them. The match was suspended at 5:5 because of the low visibility.

Why does this happen?

How come players fight all the way to the [tag]match point[/tag] and then somehow are unable to win that last point?

The most common reason is that they start thinking too much.

They also start thinking about negative consequences of losing this opportunity and this creates fear, doubt, nervousness and hesitance.

Here are some possible thoughts that Naomi and Tim might have had at those two match points:

I can’t believe it, this is not happening.
I HAVE to win this point, otherwise I won’t get another chance.
If I don’t win this match point, it’s over.
I have to risk more for this point.
Oh my god, what if I miss?
I have to do something special on this point.
I don’t deserve this. She in #9 and I am #223 and still a junior.
I know she is going to win this point, no matter what I do.
I have to play this point very safe and not miss.
This is one my last Wimbledons, I DON’T want to lose in the first round.
What will my dad / mom / parents / media / friends say if I lose now?
This is a once in a lifetime chance, what if I don’t take it?
Try and imagine how thinking these thoughts affects your state, your energy level and your approach to the game.

Of course, I am only guessing.

Naomi and Tim may have played their best at those two points and it was just a matter of statistics that their opponents won. That’s the nature of sport – it’s unpredictable.

So what can a player do at this point?

The first and hardest thing to achieve is to become aware of these thoughts. We usually don’t monitor our thinking, it just happens.

But if you want to be a top tennis player, you need to be very selective of what you think.

When you become aware of these thoughts, you can either change them or stop them.

You can change them to:

Ok, I play the same as before and try my best.
Come on, same level. (of play and intensity)
Stick to the plan, attack the backhand.
The other way is to stop them.

You can do that by focusing on your breathing for a few seconds and just become aware of the air going in and out.

You can work on controlling you activation level by adjusting your strings on the racquet or doing a few small jumps.

You can also visualize where you will serve or where you will return.

All these methods will stop your thinking and allow you to perform your best for this crucial point.

But none of these will guarantee that you will win it. Again, that’s the nature of sport and that’s why it’s so exciting to play and watch.

And that’s why the betting companies are still in business and doing really well. 😉

You cannot predict the outcome of tennis matches with high enough probability.

Related posts:

Dealing With Pressure In Tennis Matches
Novak Djokovic’s thoughts about mental toughness
How To Quiet Your Mind During Tennis Practice Or A Match
Why Did Djokovic Stop Fighting?
Winning In Practice But Losing In Matches

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Monday, June 25th, 2007 at 11:03 pm and is filed under Mental Tennis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.