Tennis Psychology: Sabine Lisicky – Overwhelm!

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Tennis PsychologyIt’s early in the second set of Sabine Lisicky’s Wimbledon singles final with Marion Bartoli. And the German girl is almost in tears. Her game is falling apart before our eyes. Her ball toss is all over the place. She is constantly choosing the wrong shot options.

All her hopes, dreams and possibilities are crumbling in front of her. And there is nothing she can do about it. It is only when the match is virtually over, that with nothing to lose, Sabine starts to loosen up and play her natural game.

But by then it’s far too late. So what was the cause of Sabine Lisicky’s dramatic Wimbledon Saturday melt-down?

Clearly this was a player who had not thoroughly mentally prepared for this moment. Not thought through the consequences of her emotions getting the better of her. Not thought through what to do in the event of her nerves betraying her game plan.

The final was overloaded with too many consequences for Sabine. From receiving her pre-match bouquet, to walking on the Centre Court, the German’s emotions became overloaded. It had stopped being a tennis match to her.

She had stepped into a piece of tennis history, and internally didn’t feel herself worthy of being there. The atmosphere; occasion; historical moment was far greater than her ability to absorb it.

Lisicky would have benefited from a strategy Martina Navratilova employed to great effect. Martina, the evening before a ladies singles final, would go the the Centre Court late at night. She would sit in the stands alone and absorb the quiet; absorb the atmosphere; absorb the feeling of Wimbledon.

When she felt at one with the place; the history; the greats who had graced the world’s most famous court, she would quietly and calmly return to her hotel. She was emotionally connected. And emotionally ready.

Sabine Lisicky was not emotionally ready for a ladies singles final on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. And all because she hadn’t prepared properly!