Written by Laura McKelvie.
You’re at the service line, trying to focus. It’s late in the last set, and your team is down by one. If you miss this serve, the other team will win.
As much as you want to relax or focus on the positive, you feel incredibly nervous. Your mind recalls the last serve you missed and how that affected the team. “No,” you tell yourself. “I won’t miss it this time.” You remind yourself that you’ve served successfully hundreds of times. So why are you still nervous?
You toss the ball, ready to put it into play. Will you stay cool under pressure or will you send the ball straight into the net?
A successful serve in this situation requires skill, of course, but skill alone doesn’t promise a player will never miss a serve, hit, or dig. Without the ability to focus on the present, an athlete’s mind is likely to jump to memories of the past or concerns about how a mistake would influence the game. Concentration is a key ingredient to success, and it’s a skill every athlete can develop.
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