Win More Marches Without Working Harder

The tennis demons are the should have’s: I shouldn’t have hit that crosscourt shot. I should have gone down the line. And the what if’s: what if I double fault again and she goes up 6-0 in the first set? I’d like to say that these are small, quiet, helpful voices but they are not. The tennis demons are those voices in your head sabotaging and second guessing what you are doing every time you play a match. The tennis demons make it incredible difficult for you to stay focused on the present, be in control, maintain confidence and play the way you know you can play.


Practice is where explicit learning takes place. It’s where you clearly develop your technique and muscle memory for your forehand, backhand and serve. Matches are where implicit playing happens. This is where you take what you’ve learned in practice (mentally & physically) and allow it to happen to its fullest potential. Your game may not be ‘perfected’ on match day but you have the ability you have and that’s all you have on match day. On the day of a match you are not going to be much better than you were the day before but for some reason we unconsciously think we could be. Because we think we could be a lot better on match day than we were the day before we put pressure on ourselves to actually be better. What ensues are the should have’s and the what if’s.


Let me further explain should have. A should have has already happened and you can’t go back and change it but you get stuck on them anyway don’t you? Why? An action that you don’t like and didn’t want to have happen just happened and your critical voice immediately wants to have a conversation with you about it. Your critical voice will demand that you figure out what happened right then and there. You have to find the strength within to let go of these situations. You have to have a plan for dealing with these situations when they come up because they will come up.


On the other hand, what if may never, ever happen but you are preparing in case it does. You put time and energy into thinking about what if this and what if that and planning for it as if you were totally sure it was going to happen. That focus pulls you out of your ability to play because you are stuck in thinking about what might happen versus what is happening. If you stay focused on the process (each moment of the match) it will lead you in the direction of the outcome you are looking for.


To be a great tennis player you have to be able to accept that every match will contain good moments, bad moments and everything in between while staying focused on the present moment. I invite you to learn more about how you can do this by attending my FREE master class: Beating the Tennis Demons. This master class will be held Monday, November 24, 4-5PST. To register please go to:

Dr. Michelle Cleere

Best-seller author, Dr. Michelle Cleere holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and a M.A. in Sports Psychology. An athlete herself, her passion is unlocking the power of the mind so that athletes can play better and happier.


• Creator of the Beat the Demons™ System for Peak Performance, she coaches professional athletes, helping them to ‘Beat their demons’ so they can perform more consistently and win more without having to work harder.

• As a 15 year USAT Coach Dr. Michelle developed simple and effective tools to mentally train her athletes, which are used by coaches around the world.

• Dr. Michelle serves on the faculty of JFK University. Her research focuses on how the mind can be used as an ally and trained to improve performance.


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