Fear of losing is another prevalent fear for many athletes. Many players cannot stand to lose and thus become over wrought with anxiety and tension, which prevents them from playing freely and to their potential. A good example of the fear of losing is in the last set or the match you make a mental error such as trying too hard to hit the baseline and it costs you the match.
The bottom line is, no matter what the fear, you probably are scared, tight, tentative, and afraid to make mistakes if you have fear of failure. Many perfectionistic athletes want to win so badly that they cannot perform up to their potential. Here are some ideas for dealing with these obstacles and getting beyond the fear of failure.
You cannot care about what others think. Social approval is the phenomenon at the root of the fear of embarrassment. If you get embarrassed on the court, you probably are too concerned about what others think about you. You need to stop mind reading or projecting onto others what you assume they think about you. This only serves as distraction to the task of driving and causes you to think about the “what if’s”.
Focus on the ingredients of the process and the task of hitting the ball. Fear of losing or making mistakes often occurs because you focus too much on the end of the match. Thus, your mind is racing ahead to the consequences of your actions. This is also a distraction. Worrying about results is one of the major mistakes I see athletes making. You have to define what is relevant to only tennis and keep your mind immersed into those task-relevant cues.
Let go of expectations. Expectations, good or bad, are the root of self-sabotage in tennis. For example, if you are playing better then expected you will probably protect your lead and thus perform tentatively and if you are performing below your expectations you will probably become frustrated and make some poor choices. The formula I teach is to have no expectations, high self-confidence, and manageable goals. Self-confidence comes from believing in your tennis ability and focusing on the reasons to succeed rather than the excuses to fail.
Article by Dr.Patrick Cohn PeakSports.com