First of all, I don’t think it is a good idea to judge opponents as weaker or stronger. It is one thing to evaluate someone’s game and develop a plan, but quite another to go into a match with expectations of winning or losing because the opponent is a ‘better’ player or someone you ‘should’ beat.
None of this dialogue is helpful, however, the mind is the mind and that’s what it does. So what can we do? We can take the ‘fight’ to the body and move it away from the mind.
Let us examine what happens to your body and performance when expectations arise. If we can see how what the body does changes we can keep it real, but if we try and deal with this symptom with mind-stuff, nothing will change. Is that not your experience? Has trying to change your ‘mind-set’ ever worked for you on the long-term?
Let us begin with the premise that I shared with you last week that every shot requires a certain amount of risk. You cannot be sure of the outcome or result until afterwards and certainly, not before you hit the ball or wind up for a swing. This requires a certain cavalier attitude, a certain amount of risk-taking.
Can you see that? Is that your experience?
If that is true, then it is easy to see that when we play against someone whom we feel we ‘should’ beat, it becomes harder to take a risk. We develop a more defensive attitude because why take a ‘chance’ when we are playing someone who is ‘weaker’ than us? Surely, all we have to do is to just play ‘safe’ and make sure the ball goes in?
This attitude results in the body swinging differently, maybe the swing slows down; perhaps the contact is a little late because we are not moving forward as we would naturally do if we ‘going after’ the ball( in other words, we are not fully committed to the swing). There are other ‘symptoms that can arise in this situation, but that is all they are, symptoms. What symptoms arise for you?
Similarly, the opposite is also true. When we play someone ‘stronger’ than us, whom we ‘expect’ to lose to. Then risk becomes easy to take because we feel we have ‘nothing to lose’ so what the heck, let’s just go for it.
What is missing is the understanding that regardless of whom ever we are playing risk is involved. That feeling of not knowing and ‘don’t care type of attitude’ has to exist regardless of the opponent.
It is an uneasy feeling that we need to get comfortable with.
Play around with this. See what happens?