Focus on Playing Well not on the Score

Roger Federer serving. Photo courtesy Michael Dodge, Pinterest. 

Blog article by Angelo A. Rossetti, USPTA Elite/PTR Professional, USTA HP & Mental Skills Certified & 2X Guinness World Records™ holder.

The level of play rather than the score will determine the outcome and the winner. The score can change immediately but someone’s playing level usually doesn’t. Think of the score in two ways. It gives you an indication of what tactics you should be using before you start the point. It is also what is recorded after the match. The latter has nothing to do with the process. Knowing that, try not to dwell on the score. Focus on playing the best that you can in any given situation given the circumstances.

In professional tennis, it’s not a matter of time. In other sports, you can run the clock out when you have a lead. You can be done with your zone and be playing horribly now while the opponent is finding their flow.

Time runs out. You win. You didn’t play better but you win.

Tennis is not like that (except in league tennis where there is a time limit). Evidence of that is in the 5th set of the ATP men’s final at the 2017 Australian Open between Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal.

Rafa was up a break 3-1 in the 5th and deciding set. But at 3-2, after holding serve, most would analyze the score and say that all Rafa has to do is hold serve three more times and he’ll be the champion. However, if you look closely at the level of play, Fed had the same number of points won and was actually holding serve easier the last two games.

The score can be misleading. At 3-3 in the 5th Fed had more total points but more importantly made the decision to go for his shots win or lose rather than just keep the ball in play.

“I told myself to play free,” Federer said. “You play the ball. You don’t play the opponent. Be free in your head. Be free in your shots. Go for it. The brave will be rewarded here. I didn’t want to go down just making shots, seeing forehands rain down on me from Rafa.”

Sure enough it worked with Fed winning the majority of the last points, serving aces and hitting winners.

“He did not surprise me,” Nadal said. “He was playing aggressively, and I understand that in a match against me. I don’t think it would have been intelligent to try to get into too many long rallies from the baseline. I don’t think he would have won. He went for it, and it was the right thing for him to do.”

By defeating Nadal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, to win the 2017 Australian Open for the fifth time, Roger Federer became the oldest man to win a Grand Slam singles title in over forty-five years.

Age is just a number and so is the score.

Remember play to play well. Avoid using the score as the only gauge of your level of play.

I always welcome feedback at angeloarossetti @ gmail .com.

You can learn more about a couple of tennis GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ that I have been a part of:
Our Inspiration – 2 World Records 2 Minute Video
FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
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Focus on Playing Well not on the Score

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