One of the most difficult things you will encounter on the tennis court is the interference that your mind inadvertently causes when the match gets close.
The best players in the world seem to be able to overcome this by reminding themselves of the successes they have had, and letting habit and instinct take over. Often, the great shots that are hit in the defining moments of the match are a result of instinct and habit. It is a good idea to remind yourself of one technique idea and one strategic idea before playing a point.
However, if your thoughts go beyond that, and start occurring during the actual point, your chances of playing the point at a high level will decrease significantly. Your goal when the match is on the line should be to hit the ball the way you usually do, using a strategy that has worked for you in the past. This will happen more often if you let your body react automatically to your opponent's shots, hit the ball with your normal swings, and just play the way that you are accustomed to. Although this seems a little scary, you will likely hit better shots and stay relaxed at crunch time, resulting in a good result more often.
Just play your game and let it happen!
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com in East Hampton, NY . Steve is also a tennis professional at Ventana Golf and Country Club in Tucson, AZ. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org