| By Dr. Tom Ferraro
Photo credit: Dasguptarts

Murphy’s Law applies to all things in life, especially in sports. The perverse, the unexpected and the unusual are always just around the corner in any tennis tournament. A bad call, a double fault or a nasty remark between points are just part of the unexpected and unscripted that may not kill you, but will often cause you to lose a point, a set or a match. Tennis players are usually surprised when the unfortunate happens to them and this rattles composure and focus. The worst I ever witnessed was when David Ferrer lost his cool in a quarterfinals match at the Sony Ericsson Open last year. A baby would not stop crying in the stands, and in anger, Ferrer hit a ball in the baby’s direction to get him to stop. Either David doesn’t like babies or he does not know how to deal with the unexpected. He went on to lose the match.

The cure
There’s no question that Murphy’s Law is valid. You need to give up the fantasy that the days’ tournament is going to go as planned. It will not. Here is how to prepare for the many surprises that await you:

1) Prepare yourself for the event as much as you can and always leave with plenty of time to get to there. This will enable you to stay calm as you travel.
2) Shelter yourself from social and family contacts prior to any big match. Your friends and family will be getting excited and this energy will serve to distract, make you more nervous and tire you out.
3) Always be ready for the unexpected during play. Expect your opponent to say something nasty to you. Expect a bad call … actually, expect many bad calls.
4) Do not be surprised if your opponent tries to cheat.

To be able to cope with these sudden mishaps, you must be ready for them and say something like the following, “Okay, here it is. So be it! It’s over; I can’t do much about it now. Let it go. Just take a great big breath and refocus.” Memorize this mantra and post it on your refrigerator.

You are not immune to Murphy’s Law. Something will pop up before or during the next big match. If you know how to minimize the damage and let it go like water off a duck’s back, you will stay focused and go on to win.
 

Dr. Tom Ferraro

For consultations, treatment or on-site visits, contact Dr. Tom Ferraro Ph.D., Sport Psychologist, by phone at (516) 248-7189, e-mail DrTFerraro@aol.com or visit DrTomFerraro.com.