Psych Outs And Intimidation

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Psych Outs And Intimidation

Psych Outs, Intimidation, and other Mental Faults 

By Dr. Patrick Cohn -

Do you pay more attention to other named player in the field that have had success? Do you compare yourself to other players or teams when you get to the court for warm ups? If you answered yes, then you are a candidate for psyching yourself out of the game. Psych-outs are usually self-induced based on your perceptions of an event or other tennis players. It happens in all sports—rookies or younger athletes worry too much about the competition instead of what they need to do to play their best.

Intimidation starts with a perception you have about another player’s reputation or success. This in part is a confidence breakdown. Meaning you are not confident enough in your own talents and team to believe that you can compete against “big names” in your sport. “How can I beat him—he’s a 5 all star?” you say to yourself standing in the locker room before warm ups. You have to take the approach that everyone has the same chance of winning and you have earned the right to compete at the event. Do not put others “on a pedestal” or look at players as superstars. They put one shoe on at a time just like you.

I still remember what my High School football coach told us when we took the field against bigger, faster teams in our league. He said to pay attention to what we needed to do as a team to prepare for the game during our warm up and do not gawk at the other team—don’t give them any attention. This was great advice. The more attention you give to other players, the easier it is to get intimidated or psych yourself out.


Making comparisons does not help either. Most of the time when you make a comparison to another player, you compare yourself to players who you think are better than you. You then try to find out what makes them better and what you might me missing—a further knock to your own confidence. This is a bad approach to getting ready for any event. I would rather you focus on what makes you a good tennis player and your special talents.

It is all about working your pre-game routine and getting yourself ready to do your best. The pre-game routine is very helpful for you to stay focused on the game and your game plan. This is when you should be visualizing the sets of the game and anticipating what you might have to do in given situations such as when rushing the net on a drop shot. Your routine should also include the usual preparations you take before the start of the game from going over your strategy to getting suited up to getting your racket out of your bag.

Article by Dr.Patrick Cohn