Serena Williams Wimbledon 2016 what pressure?

 In Imagery & Visualization, Pressure, Tennis

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Defending champ and #1 seed Serena Williams beat Amra Sadikovic 6-2, 6-4 but it wasn’t easy. Amra stayed with Serena breaking serve in the second set. This was partly due to her skill but also had a lot to do with Serena’s errors.

It’s not uncommon for Serena to get ‘heated’ when she isn’t playing well. I’ve seen Grand Slams were she would slam her racquet or start taking her frustration out on the chair ump but mainly what I’ve seen is how she deals with herself on the court. When Serena gets frustrated, you know about it and it appeared that she showed some of that frustration in her match with Amra.

“I’m always shouting at myself. It’s absolutely nothing different.” But while she’s right that of course she can often be heard urging herself on, according to such wise heads as Lindsay Davenport and John McEnroe, this first round discomfiture was unmistakably something else. The 1999 Ladies’ champion pointed out Serena’s “anxiety and tension”, before adding with characteristic courtesy: “There is no question she has room to improve.”  – Source

Serena continued by saying: “It was a solid start in the right direction,” she said of the match, before rebutting Davenport’s observation of “anxiety and tension” with a calm: “No. I mean, for a first round, no. I felt I was where I needed to be. I needed to be pumped for the match. I needed to be intense. I needed to show a lot and feel a lot on the court. That’s typically how I play. I needed to do that.” – Source

Anxiety and tension can be quite visible particularly in certain sports. Tennis is definitely one of those sports. John McEnroe is a good example of visibly showing anger, frustration and anxiety on the court. He exuded it and it worked for him most of the time. How? When it worked it psyched out his opponents. When it didn’t work, he didn’t play well.

I don’t think Serena is trying to psych out her opponents I think she is actually trying to bring to light what she’s thinking and feeling and getting it out. Because of Serena’s tennis experience, I think it’s a good thing. She may have been feeling some anxiety and tension because of the errors against Amra but she didn’t keep them bottled up inside, ponging around in her head. She got it out, she energized and to a certain degree reset herself.

The problem with this method of coping is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work. It really depends on a lot of factors. I think it works for Serena when she’s staying inherent, but as soon as she starts going extrinsic, i.e., yelling obscenities at officials, in my experience, it’s no longer working.

Lindsay Davenport and John McEnroe may be right in their assessments but it sounds like Serena has it under control.

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Dr. Michelle Cleere
In her own private practice as an elite performance expert, Dr. Michelle Cleere helps top athletes, musicians, and executives in competitive fields unlock the power of the mind and create the mental toughness to be the best. Dr. Michelle’s extensive academic background, which includes a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in Sports Psychology, allows her to help clients deal with performance anxiety, gain more confidence, and build resilience. In addition to personal coaching, Dr. Michelle takes on many roles – a best-selling author, athlete, and teacher. Dr. Michelle’s bestseller line, Beating the Demons, helps clients develop practical skills to gain more control over competitive environments and mitigate the interruption in play to overcome intense odds and defeat adversity. As a 15-year USAT Coach, she developed simple and effective tools to mentally train her athletes, and they are used by coaches around the world. She is a professor at John F. Kennedy University where she teacher her students to use the mind as an ally to improve performance.
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