Countering The Tennis Psychology Of The Opponent
Given that two opposing players are equals as regards their stroke play, experience and equipment, the deciding factor as to the final outcome in a match would be an element of luck as they call it and how the two players can adjust mentally to unexpected misfortunes and fluctuating fortunes of the game (that also may be partly or wholly due to luck or ill luck) to keep their heads up and go on playing without losing confidence while having the pressure turned on the opponent at maximum level all the time.
We can hear a lot of people brag about the shots they had been successful in making, though a few would ponder on the value of the shots they had missed. Shots missed are equally important as any shots made; and under certain circumstances, a shot that goes off the sidelines by one inch is much more important than a lame return bad enough to be killed by the opponent.
That statement above may need a little bit of explanation. Let’s say your opponent shoots you an angled shot that makes you run back quite a lot; and having finally reached it, you manage to drive it back so hard and fast along the sideline that it takes your opponent completely by surprise. However, unfortunately the ball lands one inch outside the sideline making you lose a point. It is fortunate for your opponent that it landed just outside; since even if it had landed one inch inside, he would have missed it anyway conceding a point to you.
He knows that he has just escaped by the thickness of a whisker and it registers in his mind. He realizes that you are capable of repeating that shot and that lady luck won’t be always on his side. So he makes a mental note not give you such an opportunity again. Now what has happened? His confidence is shattered and stroke play restricted; and all that achieved with just a missed shot!
Had you not taken so much pains over that last shot and tried to return his shot somehow without running the risk of missing it altogether, you could have just popped it back to him resulting in an immediate kill for your opponent with the added benefit of enhancement of his confidence at the cost of loss of your confidence. Either way, in terms of points, you would have lost only one point; but with your superb missed shot you have reaped all the psychological advantages, whereas if you had simply popped up a return shot to him, he would have immediately killed it and you would have lost in both departments of points as well as psychological advantage.
Now let us presume that you had made that shot managing to get it within the sideline instead of outside and beating your opponent for which you would have got one point; but as far as he is concerned it is two points lost for him considering the one point he conceded plus the one he should have got instead of giving you one. It causes considerable mental worry to him feeling he had thrown away something that he would be hard pressed to recover.
It may now be apparent that your mental viewpoints and how they affect you can change the outcome of matches. With both men starting on an equal footing, when one establishes a lead, his confidence soars while the opponent’s confidence sags. If the one who established the lead initially goes on in the same winning streak, then not only the points, but also their confidence levels and their psychology as a whole will show the gaping difference between them.
However, if the losing player begins to catch up or even pulls ahead of the first, unless the first player has very good control over his self-confidence, the tremendous psychological forces that build up could destroy his game finally ending with total collapse. On the other hand, the second player’s confidence will register a big boost with the confidence gained from having turned the game around from a certain defeat to a probable or an amazing victory.