Q. I am too hard on myself when I play the game. What simple thought or action can I focus on to move away from this negative thinking?
A. In general, it is beneficial to think about replacing negative self talk with effective, productive thinking rather than putting your energy towards simply getting rid of negative thoughts. Some steps to take to make this happen include:
First, identify the situations where you tend to have negative or damaging thoughts (i.e., double fault, lose a game, make an error) and what specifically you say or think in these situations.
Next, identify the self-talk that would be more effective in such a situation – think about what has worked in the past or what works for you in practice. This self-talk should focus on things such as what you need to do (not what you didn’t do), words to build confidence or words to motivate.
Lastly, when you find yourself in challenging situations, replace your negative thoughts with the self-talk that you have identified as being helpful to your performance.