As a former competitive college tennis player, I was exposed to several high pressure situations. I learned early on that my mental toughness had to be just as strong, or stronger, than my physical ability. It was through the highs and lows of match play that I learned the power of positive thinking.
During one match in my senior season, I was playing a third set tiebreaker against a highly ranked opponent. As the pressure continued to build, I found I was nervously moving away from my aggressive strategy that had served me well up to that point. I was focused on not losing rather than what had gotten me there. After hitting a tentative forehand into the net, I took a deep breath, and suddenly I remembered my mantra. “Take it,” I said to myself. “You have everything you need to be successful.” By repeating this to myself in my head during the most pressing times, I was reminded to be confident, aggressive and rely on my experience and training. I ended up winning the final four points with my aggressive play to take control of the match for the win.
No matter the environment, in life, in sport, in academics, there will be times where you feel great pressure. I encourage you to develop your own personal mantra to repeat in your head when you need it most. Positive, focused thoughts can be our strongest weapon. Use your mind to your advantage.