Mental Strength | How to Stop Freezing on the Court

Mental Strength | How to Stop Freezing on the Court

Mental Strength | How to Stop Freezing on the Court

How to Stop Freezing on the Court

By Maite Iriarte Rego, PhD in Psychology, Master in Sports Psychology, Contextual Mental-Coach, and CEO of Flowandgrow Mental-Coaching S.L. (Licensed AO11855)

Talking with one of my players, who confessed to winning his doubles match but completely freezing during his singles match, he asked me how he could stop freezing in his matches. In the first set, after 3:3, he started to tense up, lose points, and become very nervous because he hadn’t taken advantage of his opportunities.

What was mentally and emotionally blocking him was the feeling of not being able to capitalize on his match opportunities, especially since the score was close in the first set against a high-level player. He thought that if he didn’t seize his chances, he couldn’t win, which made him tense up even more.

This tension led him to play worse, freeze up, and eventually lose the match. Mentally and emotionally, it’s important to figure out the root of the blockage, understand why the player is using it, and what function it serves on the court.

In his case, we found out he was convinced he was making a fool of himself by not taking advantage of his match opportunities. His fear of what others would think if he lost or played poorly made him tense up in important match situations, causing him to play well below his potential, miss opportunities, and become even more nervous and blocked.

Behind this fear of looking foolish was the fear of rejection by others. This is a core and very common fear: the fear of rejection and being left alone. Historically, if you were rejected by the group, you didn’t survive. Nowadays, this can’t happen. The fear is completely irrational and must be confronted to eliminate its power over you. This fear prevents you from reaching your full potential on the court because you don’t want anyone to think badly of you to avoid personal and social rejection. Freezing and fear are ineffective ways to control rejection.

It’s impossible to please everyone and avoid rejection. The only choice we have is to choose why we want to be rejected: for playing big and reaching our full potential or for playing timidly with the fear of what others will say.

If we manage to eliminate this fear, we also eliminate the mental blocks that prevent us from reaching our full potential, playing freely without fear of failing, missing opportunities, playing poorly, or having to prove anything about our tennis or ourselves. We simply play focused on the match, giving our best in every point. Then, the close match against a strong opponent becomes a challenge that allows us to bring out the best in ourselves, rather than a source of blocks and fears that prevent us from enjoying the match, the opponent, and our tennis.

To stop freezing on the court, it’s crucial to find out what core fear is holding you back, whether it’s the fear of looking foolish, fear of rejection, fear of what others will say, fear of not feeling competent on the court, fear of not being good enough, fear of failure, fear of not achieving your goals, fear of not being loved if you don’t perform well, fear of not feeling valuable if you don’t win, etc.

By identifying your fear and the function of your blockage, you can free yourself from it and start playing your matches with confidence and enjoyment instead of stress, fear, and pressure.

To read this article in spanish by page 74-75please click HERE

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