Winning the battle...in my head.

The week before a tennis tournament, there are a few things that I do differently.
I eat better. 
 I stay active, fitting in a few extra practice games.
  I try to go to bed at a decent hour.
I carry around a positive, almost kick-butt attitude.
I powwow with my partner about strategy.
I make sure my favorite tennis skirts are washed and ready to go.  :)

I was thinking about this yesterday as I finished off a bowl of Rocky Road ice cream,
wallowing in thoughts of self-doubt,
and trying to make myself leave the pity party I had thrown.
It was a pretty lame party, I'm the only one that came.

It was a fun tournament!
My partner was one of my favorite girls!
We kicked some butt more than once.
And then we headed into the match that eventually led me toward the Rocky Road.

It started with our usual giddy, let's go attitude.
After the warm up I was well aware that this would be a tough one.
One girl had power.  The other, good hands.
In tennis, good hands is a term for being able to handle the ball well, power or no power.
And that little seed of self-doubt just settled itself right into my brain.

We held our own and were up in the first set 5-2.  One more game, and the set was ours.
Only it's not a good thing to think like that.
Don't let up, there is no guarantee you have the next game.  Keep fighting.
The set ended 5-7.  They got it.

Okay, no problem.  Put that set behind you and get it in the second.
Only, by this time I had made a few stupid mistakes.
AND lost my serve.
Meaning this...my serve is one of my weapons, or maybe I should say WAS.
I couldn't find it.
Excuse me, but could we take a break while I go looking for my serve?
It was here a little while ago, but it just took off without telling me.
I kind of really need that back.

But of course, there was no break to go looking.
And so with my missing serve and some stupid mistakes,
and the seed of self-doubt that had somehow turned into a tree,
we proceeded into the second set.

We fought.  We made some amazing points.
But for me, it was different.
Someone else was on the court with us now.
Actually, it was a group of them, and...they were in my head.
And they wouldn't shut up!
They were so loud, and they kept talking over each other.
Saying stuff like this:
Is your toss right?
Why aren't you moving your feet?
Why are you hanging back?
Cover your partner!
Don't take your eyes off that ball!
Are all those people really watching you?  You better impress them!
Make a solid volley!
Why did you just feed them a high one?

Do you know how annoying this is?
It's called nerves.
It's called panic.
It's called over thinking.
It's called...dangerous.
And it is a real and annoying part of the game of tennis.

The match ended with a final score of 5-7, 6-7.
A close match.
But it didn't feel close.
For some reason, to me, it felt like a landslide loss.
And I think that is because of the battle in my brain.
Because of what was in my head while on the court.
I lost the mental battle, and it showed in my game.

As I said, the pity party is over.
The Rocky Road was good, don't get me wrong.
But all it did was leave me
feeling fat and defeated.

Here is what I will take from this match:
1. Treat every week like a pre-tournament week...good food, good sleep, good attitude, etc.
2.  Put in some extra time to get my serve back.
3.  Mental toughness is just as important or more so than physical strength.
4.  Know how to shut off those stupid voices when they start chattering.
5. Know my weaknesses and keep them in check.
6.  Play to win!!  Don't play to keep from losing!!  There IS a difference.
7.  Keep playing.  Keep it fun.  Ugly tennis can still be fun tennis.
8.  Don't go for the Rocky Road after a loss.  You'll regret it later.
9.  And lastly, don't invite anyone to your pity party...
just move on, and get ready for the next battle, I mean match.


Elece said...

That was GREAT!!!! So excited to kick some tennis butt!!! I got your back partner!! Just for the record......I have the best partner ever and I will dig my heels in and go to battle with you anytime! We make ugly look sooooo good!!!!

Toni C. said...

Rocky Road huh? I had mocha chip last night. I notice neither of us mentioned this in our emails. ;)

Looks like you're getting yourself right back into the saddle. Lighten up on yourself! Love you!

Jen said...

At least you learned something from it right? It's true that our minds are so powerful and we have to remember that we have CONTROL over them! Here's to your next tournament!

Gramma Spice said...

Great mind and soul searching...you are so strong, sweetie...so powerful. Celebrate every match, every challenge...it's really living fully.
But enjoy that ice cream now and then...REALLY enjoy it...from your forever #1 fan. :)

Cassi said...

Thanks for saying what was in my head, Shelli. I should've joined your pity party, because I was having your own. Oh no, wait, we're being positive! Thanks for sharing.

Krista said...

I needed this post, Shell. Thanks. You are the hottest whammy serve tennis player I know and up or down, those voices in your head don't know you like I do. They NEVER WILL. xo

Oh, and the voices in my head say whassup to your voices.

hansen family said...

Love it!!!!!

See that's why I love blogging, you can't get that on facebook.