Picture the scene: you started the match very well, but your game has suddenly started to crumble. You’re making silly mistakes and are becoming increasingly frustrated. You enter a vicious circle of errors followed by muttered swearwords, before losing your focus completely and, ultimately, the match.
If you’re anything like me, you would have nodded sagely while reading the previous paragraph. However, it doesn’t have to be like that: there’s an incredibly simple technique for regaining your cool in the heat of the moment: four-second meditation.
When you next feel the red mist descending, avoid the temptation to curse or fling your brand-new racket over the closest hedge. Instead, shut your eyes, take deep breaths and slowly count to four. Try to block out all distractions – don’t think about the match, or even the sandwiches you’re going to have afterwards – and focus solely on your breathing and the numbers.
Okay, it may sound like one of those corny “your anger is a balloon, let it drift away” techniques used by clichéd psychiatrists in American TV dramas, but it genuinely works. It may garner strange looks and even an “are you okay?” from your opponent, but it will prevent you from going fully McEnroe and help maintain your focus.