Drive Time Mental Training – Tune In for Peak Practice
Top players practice the way they want to perform. They often bring the same energy to practice that they want to bring to a match. We can do the same thing if we train for it.
Since many of us drive to practice from work or home, the car can be a useful “energy transition” tool. Think of your car like Superman’s phone booth. Mild-mannered Clark Kent (a.k.a. “tired worker and/or mom”) enters the phone booth, a few anxious moments pass and miraculously Superman (a.k.a. “dynamic tennis player”) emerges.
When you emerge from your car, it’s important that you project a demeanor that matches how you want to practice. You will often get back the energy and enthusiasm you project. If you want your playing partners to be excited and enthusiastic about practicing with you, then you need to project that same excitement and enthusiasm.
Think of ways to “environmentalize” your car so you arrive at practice or a match ready to go. Make sure you have a snack, water or sports drink, change of clothes and whatever else you need to arrive ready for peak play!
Music is instrumental in creating the right mood. Researchers have shown that music can have a profound effect on your physiology – just imagine watching your favorite movie without music. Hollywood spends millions of dollars on movie soundtracks to ensure the audience is in the proper mood. Including music in your transition ritual can reinforce the feelings you are working to elicit in practice and matches.
Different music will bring about different emotions – instrumentals and new age tend to be more calming, whereas rock tends to be more pump-up. Experiment until you find what works for you. Visualize your best tennis while listening to music. Your goal is to become so familiar with the music that works for you that you can think about it in a match and it will trigger the energy you are looking for.
Taking the time before you enter the practice court to prepare mentally will allow you to set a tone of confidence and enthusiasm right from the start. So, make the time to get yourself ready to project the kind of attitude you want to exhibit. The investment is well worth it.