It's All In Your Head!

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This summer, a close friend and I started playing tennis every week. Both of us are really competitive (a few shouts of frustration during the match) and analytical and hence at the end of the match, we would end up discussing the match. More specifically, where we think the match was won and where we could improve and things to work on for the next week. This blog post is about the learnings from one such conversation.

The score was 0-3 and I had lost 3 games in a row, broken once and was about to serve. The thoughts in our head at the changeover -

0-3 changeover

I had already lost the match the previous week and I was down a break in this one. The thought of losing the set 0-6 and the shame that would follow it loomed in. I wanted to stick to the basics, put the ball back in and play clutch. The goal was to win my service game and get on the board. Co-incidentally, at the same time, my friend was high on confidence, broken me to love and was thinking about winning the set 6-0.

I ended winning my service game and breaking him to get back on serve at 2-3.

2-3 changeover

I felt good, played a good couple of games and hit a few winners. Looking back, I was probably over-confident and I was dreaming about smashing a winner of every point. My friend realized that his dreams of 6-0 is now gone and told himself to put the ball back in and play each point by it’s merit.

He ended up winning the set 6-2.

It's all in your head.

One can clearly see why Tennis is a battle of the minds and if you’d ask me - the games were won in the minds in the couple of changeovers. This reminded me of a phrase in the poem If by Rudyard Kipling -

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster;
And treat those two impostors just the same;
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son.

Kaushik Rangadurai

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