Measuring the Mental Game (or a Tale of Three Matches), Part II


I see what I’m made of on the tennis court.

Competing pushes me. Do I love to win? Or, like my idol Serena Williams, is it that I hate to lose? It’s the latter.

Can I keep my composure under pressure? Or does my performance break down on decisive points? I recently committed to tracking my mental game.

In this second installment the sailing isn’t quite as smooth but the results offer good learning.

Match 2: Daphne and I were paired up for this match. I call her “Daphne Dynamo” because she packs boundless energy in her small frame. I shared with her my commitment to support her no matter what during the match and to have fun. I love how doing that solidifies team energy.

For this night match on an indoor, echo-y, loud court we didn’t get to start until 8 p.m. One of our opponents possessed big shots and confidence at the net. And the other wasn’t shabby either. The Dynamo and I quickly fell behind 0-3. We broke serve in the fourth game and got on the board. Daphne and I high-fived a lot and kept communicating. We hadn’t partnered together before except at practice. I wanted to send our opponents the message that we were a team – rather than two players who happened to occupy the same side of the court. We fought hard. Dynamo played some fearless tennis and I held my own. Still, we lost the first set 3-6.

Daphne got down and I stayed committed to remaining positive. When I lost my serve early in the second set, I hollered in frustration. And here’s where I got a lesson: When I solicited post-match feedback, Daphne told me that several times she felt that I was about to slam my racket down in frustration and that I intimidated her. She thought she was the source of my dissatisfaction, but, in fact, I was releasing frustration when we had points to hold or break serve and I failed to capitalize on them.

Although we lost the match, Daphne and I epitomized scrappiness. When our opponents served to close out the match at 5-2, we broke serve. We simply didn’t stop fighting. Although we lost the match, I told Daphne at the end that we won in a key way – we had fun the whole time. Daphne later told me that the biggest point for her in the match was when I said to her, “You know we’re playing great, right?” She said that in spite of the fact we were losing, hearing those words helped her shift her mindset. She said that was “super huge.”

How do you show up in your lab – be it tennis, another sport, a performance arena, or life itself? On Monday, June 15, I’ll be discussing “Sidestep Your Saboteurs for Success” at Innate Chiropractic and Wellness Center at 916A San Pablo Avenue (near Solano Avenue) in Albany. The free talk will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Register today at to save your seat!


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