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Mental Skills Series #2

The Green Light Routine

In previous articles, we´ve talked about the importance of a good mindset in the players´ performance. However, in many cases, players need some help in order to achieve that mindset. And to do so we can use a lot of different techniques/strategies. One of the most used (it´s in the USTA guidelines) is the Green Light Routine, a concept coined by Dr. Larry Lauer.

The main purpose of this routine is to enable the athlete to let go of the last point (regardless of its result), to focus on the current point.

Using this strategy gives the player´s the ability of creating a mental routine they can use to decrease the impact of a lost point. This routine includes 4 steps. As coaches, we need to know the steps that our athletes struggle the most, in order to better prioritize and organize the work with the player. The steps are:

1.- Respond: The moment a point ends, there will be a response, which can be positive, neutral or negative.

The goal has to be enabling the athlete to respond positively or at least neutrally. We can do that by creating a routine that the player has to carry out, whether it wins or loses the point. This routine should include:

  • Positive body language

  • Walking briskly back behind the baseline, as a slumping posture will give indications to your opponent that you are losing control of your emotions. The same goes for talking to yourself, screaming and smashing rackets

  • Taking deep breaths, which will help you not only to regain focus but also to stabilize your breathing and decrease heart rate

2.- Recovery: In this period, the player has to cool down, in order to quiet his mind.

The period between games and sets is very useful to recover not only the body, but also the mind, helping clear out the image of the lost points.

3.- Refocus: Use a towel, touch the fence, pick up the balls, walk around and focus on the current point. You should have full commitment to the current point, and you must also trust your skills.

In addition, you should always positively visualize the next point in your mind. Imagining points before actually playing them in practice is a helpful exercise that will help to boost not only the player´s focus, but also his motivation levels. This technique should be practiced during training sessions so that the player better understands how to use it properly in a match context.

4.- Ready: Bounce the ball however many times you feel comfortable, according to your routine, in the same way that a free throw shooter does, in basketball.

If you are receiving, sway back and forth, take a deep breath and lock the ball with your eyes. At this point, you are no longer thinking, you are executing, and you are ready to win the point. Quiet the mind, trust your capabilities and go battle for the point!

In conclusion, it´s safe to say that the mental component of the game is not always as developed as it should be, despite of having an extreme importance to our player´s success. As coaches, we should always be on the lookout for proved strategies (according to the available guidelines) that help players in their journey to developing a winner´s mindset.

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