THE BLOG

Swinging Free

Sep 14, 2023

Picture this: You are 21 years old, playing in the U.S. Open quarterfinals against an experienced and highly potent opponent, undoubtedly the biggest moment of your career. You are tied at one set apiece, down 6-7 in the third set tiebreaker, your opponent is serving. There is a whole set and possibly the momentum of the match on the line. What is going through your mind? Is there fear? Anxiety? Excitement? Are you loose or are you tight? What should you do the next point? Go for it or play it safe? So many questions and thoughts to pick through in the 25 seconds you are allowed in between points. What is the answer?!?!

Earlier this week, American phenom Ben Shelton was faced with this exact scenario while playing American star Frances Tiafoe. How did he deal with the pressure of the moment? This is how: "Sometimes you gotta shut off the brain, close your eyes, and just swing". Shelton ended up blasting a forehand return winner down the line to get back into the tiebreaker and eventually win the set and the match.

 When faced with pressure situations, it is important to remember Shelton's words and take a deep breath. Shut off the brain and just swing. Having tunnel vision on the next point and focusing solely on your target can help you stay in the moment without any distractions. At times we can let our thoughts and emotions dictate our actions. Recognizing when that is happening is key to performing in the moment under pressure, putting our thoughts and emotions aside and just playing your game, letting go and having the self-confidence and inner belief to get it done!!

The next time you are in a highly stressful situation, your mind is going in a million different directions, think back to Ben Shelton and how he shut off his mind, quieted the noise, and rose to the occasion by trusting in himself to get the job done and just....swing free. 

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