Whether in a full stadium or on an outside court, falling short during a high-pressure match is an excruciating experience for any tennis player. But there are ways to avoid that happening to you. Here are some tips from Eugenie Bouchard, a former Wimbledon finalist.
Mark Hodgkinson
May 18, 2018

Acknowledge to yourself that you can't control the conditions or your opponent.

“Players choke because they really want to win, and they want to control their opponent and the conditions, and those are things you can’t control," Bouchard told wtatennis.com. "And if you start to think that you can control things that you can’t control, that’s going to irritate you."

Use the time between points, and during the changeovers to think about your breathing.

“You can tell you’re choking when you get tight and start hitting shorter, and you’re not hitting through the ball and not playing nearly as well as you can. You’re not as loose as you could be. That's when you need to take a deep breath," the Canadian, 24, said. "Breathing is very important. Try to relax.”

Eugenie Bouchard (Getty Images)
Eugenie Bouchard

Don't fret too much about the scoreboard, especially when you're nearing victory.

“It’s important not to think that you’re closing out a match. You’re just playing a point. So you’re just playing one point at a time," Bouchard said. "That way, I don’t worry about the score too much.”

Even in an important match, don't lose sight of how tennis is meant to be fun.

“What works for me is putting things into perspective. I just think to myself, ‘I’m just playing a tennis match – it’s not life or death, or anything near that.’ It’s a game, and you try to have fun. So if I get nervous I try to remember that I’m supposed to be having fun. So I try to enjoy it. If it’s a tough battle, then that’s fine, that’s why you play tennis. You enjoy that.”

If you're in command of a match, don't make the mistake of mentally fast-forwarding to the next round.

"That's the worst thing you can do," Bouchard suggested. 

Try to learn from any high-pressure situations - those experiences will only help you in the future.

“With time and experience, it becomes easier to avoid choking. If you come through some tough, tight matches, that will give you the experience you need for the next time, as you think to yourself, ‘I’ve been there and I can do this’," Bouchard said. "Try to enjoy the battle.”

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This is an editorial. Views expressed do not represent those of WTA Sports Sciences.

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