May 13, 2015

Shake it Off!

ShakeItOffBreaking past limitations is what athletes are raised to do. One more lunge, one more burpee, or one more breathless sprint through the 100 yard line. As a tennis player, you spend thousands of grueling hours chasing one simple thing…The Ball.


In life and in fitness, your mind can be your biggest asset or your worst enemy. I know I am not alone when I say that, once your head is gone, your game is over. We see this a lot in matches, where a player will win the first set 6-2, only to lose the second 0-6. It all starts from one point…no, one shot. That quintessential ball that you miss in the bottom of the net, and the momentum shifts.

I have always been known in my family as the “come-back queen.” This may sound like a term of endearment, but let me tell you, it isn’t. I would always allow my mind to wonder and get down 2-5, only to turn on the after burners and fight like a lion to win. Needless to say, this strategy leaves little room for error.

Over the years, I have learned methods to bring my mind back on track, and keep that laser focus for as long as my mind would allow me.  (Don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect at this. But if my strategy could help another growing player, then I am happy to help)

First off, the faster you recognize that you’ve lost your edge, the easier it is to get it back. Try and keep tabs of your play. Are you making stupid decisions? Did you just hit three errant shots in a row?

Secondly, are your feet actually touching the ground? Of course they are literally, but what about mentally? In tennis, we are lucky enough to have time in between points to refocus ourselves. When you feel angry, panicked, or “off,” use that time to stop thinking and feel each foot on the ground. Heel to toe, feel every step and then breathe.

Lastly, focus on something other than your emotions or thoughts. As all great coaches say, “Stare at your strings!” Fix them and then get that blood pumping before the point.

One match, I was down 1-5 and my assistant college coach said, “Just jump around out there and shake it off before every single point. Show this girl that you don’t care about the score and you will fight and scratch for every single point.”  Amazingly, it worked! I won the match 7-5, 6-0.

Don’t let your mind limit your success. Whether it be your backhand, your big presentation, or that third mile on the treadmill. You can do it!

So shake it off and start again.


Sierra Ellison

Sierra Ellison is one half of a captivating sister duo who made their debut on the Professional Tennis Tour in 2012 and are now the Hosts of Tennis Runway on the Tennis Channel, where they bring enthusiasm and expertise to fashion on the court. Read full bio

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