Momentum is a unique phenomenon that can affect the outcome of any sport.
Momentum can be positive (streaks) or negative (slumps)…
Negative momentum chips away at confidence, amps up fear and anxiety and causes athletes to engage in over-analysis and over-thinking. All these consequences of negative momentum trap athletes in the cycle of under performance and slumps.
Positive momentum simply stated is stringing a few points or sets together. Positive momentum builds confidence which further contributes to the string of positive results.
There is a bigger question than, “What is momentum?”
The more important question is, “How do I foster positive momentum?”
Swinging momentum in your favor starts with one point, one play, one routine or one event. Changing the momentum of a contest requires that you dig deep and go full-bore for THIS play in THIS moment.
Swinging momentum requires you to let go of any mistakes, bad plays, bad luck or unfortunate plays that have happened in the previous moments and immerse yourself in the NOW. If you can win the battle of the present moment, momentum will eventually swing in your favor.
No one knows about the importance of momentum more than Roger Federer, 20-time Grand Slam Winner. Federer defeated Marin Cilic, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, to win the 2018 Australian Open. After losing the fourth set 3-6, Federer knew he need to regain momentum in order to close out the match and win the title.
FEDERER: “Just really trying to get back winning a game again because he came back from 3-2 maybe and won four straight. So for me it was really just trying to break his momentum. Tried to serve well… I think I was able to get that first game, at least get on the board. From then on, maybe momentum shifts a little bit, and it’s exactly what happened.”
Federer focused on just his serve and winning ONE game. This strategy swung momentum back in Federer’s favor. The confidence and sense of being in control of the match that comes from positive momentum led to a dominant and decisive third set.
Federer, riding his positive momentum after winning the Australian Open, 2018 has decided to accept a wild card into Rotterdam next week. With his renewed confidence Federer is going for a chance to regain the ATP #1 World Ranking for the first time in five years! As you can see, positive momentum breeds confidence.
To sum up, positive momentum puts the ball in your court and gives you an advantage over your opponent… And the only method to seize the momentum in a game is to focus on the playing your best game in the present moment.
Tardio Tip: Seizing Momentum
It can be difficult to focus on the present point after playing poorly for several points but this skill is critical if you are to regain momentum.
To regain momentum use the 4 Rs method:
- Recognize when you are losing control in a match.
- Relax by taking a few breaths to calm your body and mind.
- Regroup by letting go of the last few points. Telling yourself, “Regroup” is an effective cue to remind yourself to let go.
- Re-focus on what you need to do THIS point to stay aggressive and play your best.
Seize momentum and you most likely seize the game!
Related Article: Confidence: The Difference-Maker in Tennis
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