5 Ways You & Brian Baker Can Triumph Tennis Injuries

by Head Coach

brian baker battling australian open 5 Ways You & Brian Baker Can Triumph Tennis InjuriesSometimes you just have to feel bad for Brian Baker. The 27 year old tennis great truly loves the game. But sometimes, it seems as if the cosmos are conspiring to keep him from playing it.

We can all remember a time when it seemed that Brian Baker was poised to take the tennis world by storm.

He was one of the most impressive up-and-coming juniors to come along in years, and was ranked number 2 in the world.

In 2005, the then 20 year old Baker even beat the unstoppable Novak Djokovic.

But around that time, the evil, sharp-fanged monster known as “Fate” began to gnaw hungrily at Baker’s body, besetting him with a list of injuries that would have been cut from the Book of Job for being “a bit extreme.”

The Tennis Injuries Of THE Brave Brian Baker

Brian Baker required an intensive and risky hip surgery early on, and at one point had to have his entire elbow reconstructed.

Two more hip surgeries would follow, and it seemed as if Baker might never reach the pinnacle of tennis glory that we all expected of him.

Six years went by without Baker playing in a single match, and we had all but relegated him to a “could have been.” But then he surprised us, yet again.

Last year, Brian Baker came back to the game and floored everybody with his tenacity. Nobody could believe that this man who had taken six years off from competitive tennis could completely reclaim his mojo on the court.

But he did. He went through 2012 without an injury to be seen. And he started making it to final rounds in tournaments like the ATP in Nice. He even made it to the fourth round at Wimbledon.

He went from number 456 in the world at the beginning of the year to number 52. An incredibly impressive showing, to say the least!

But then Melbourne happened, and we saw Brian Baker collapse to the court after hitting a backhand to Sam Querrey. (see video below starting at 40 second mark)

As it turned out, he had torn his lateral meniscus. A bad injury to be sure, but at least he’ll be back in less than half a year.

A torn ligament would have been much more disastrous to his career. In other words, let’s just say we definitely expect Brian Baker to come right back, once that meniscus heals.

And here’s hoping that this is the very *LAST* tennis injury that Brian Baker will EVER sustain in his career. Come on, he’s been through enough!!

But the sad fact is that injuries happen, and even if we do all we can to strengthen the supporting muscles to help avoid tears, pulls, strains, and breaks, we can still get injured.

And you know what, in some ways, the psychological damage from sustaining an injury can be worse than the actual physical damage itself.

It’s during this downtime that you can start feeling as if you don’t want to play the game anymore. You may start fretting about how much you’ve lost, after working so hard to build it up.

It’s very easy to get a defeatist attitude from an injury. But this is the wrong way to look at it. If Brian Baker had given up after an injury, he’d have been out of the game years ago.

And he would have never had the stellar 2012 year described above where he climbed over FOUR HUNDRED places in the rankings.

When you’re on the court, you’ve got a clear-cut enemy who you have to topple. But when you’re sitting in your room recovering from an injury, the only real threat to your tennis game is YOU.

So, how do we deal with these tennis injuries and keep them from getting us bent out of shape? It all comes down to the one thing that great tennis players can always master: The mind game.

Here’s what you want to do…

5 Mental Tennis Strategies That Brian Baker Probably Uses To Triumph Over Terrible Tennis Injuries; You Should Too

 

1. Savor the Challenge:

When some players get hurt, they can fall into a “why me” kind of state, and it keeps them from fighting back. And negativity begets negativity.

When you start feeling down about your injury, you’ll start feeling down about the game of tennis, about your chances of ever being as good as you were before you were injured.

But this isn’t the way a champion like you should deal with adversity. Rather than feel bad for yourself, you should enjoy this moment.

Imagine that everybody expects you to fail, they expect you to give up the game. Then get yourself ready to prove them all wrong.

The determination to not only get back to your original abilities but actually EXCEED them will show everybody that you can never be toppled and will act as a tremendous confidence booster.

2. Don’t Be Blind To The Bright Side:

Yes, you’re sidelined with an injury and it’s killing you that you can’t execute and go full speed in the tennis drills as much as you’d like for at the moment.

You feel as if your game is suffering during your downtime. But you could also look at this time as the perfect moment to start enhancing the all-important mental aspect of tennis.

Start studying opponents (… live at neighboring parks or tennis clubs), or learn tips from the best psychological players who ever played the game on TV.

Just turn on the boob tube to ESPN or The Tennis channel, and you’re in! Grab a pencil and paper, a small snack with something refreshing to drink. Then watch.

Watch how players like Sloan Stephens, Bernie Tomic, and Rafa Nadal construct points, study their shot-selection.

Check out their technique to see if you look at all similar, analyze how they handle specific match situations.

This is millions of dollars and thousands of hours of training being displayed out there on the court for you to see. So take advantage!

And you’ve got the best seat in the house to catch, devour, and digest it all.

NOTE: The subtle things many times make the biggest difference.

So, imagine scenarios where you’re behind in an important match and then contemplate ways to keep your head in the game the way these park/country club legends or the players playing for the sports ultimate prize do.

Of course, not every injury you sustain while playing is enough to take you off the court. Sometimes we get something more minor, like a cramp, a blister, or a minor strain that isn’t enough to keep us sidelined, but certainly makes it a lot harder to play against our opponent.

What, then, is a player to do in these circumstances? Well, as it happens, there are some great tennis strategies for this possibility as well.

3. Use Mental Affirmations:

It’s amazing how powerful the mind is. Many of us have already heard of the wonders that pre-match imagery can do for our game. And as it happens, it can also help you power through minor pain while you’re on the court.

If that twinge in your ankle is keeping you from fully focusing on your game and what you need to do in order to destroy your opponent…

…Say to yourself “I’m still in the game, and I WILL WIN. My ankle hurts right now, but it isn’t getting me down.” It sounds simple and almost naive, but the truth is that it works.

4. Redirect Your Focus:

Instead of relentlessly keeping your mind on the blister that’s being rubbed raw on your heel, take your mind somewhere else.

Start focusing harder on your strategy. Think about how poorly your opponent’s backhand is faring right now.

Consider which combination of shots is working best for you. In short, immerse yourself in tactics and it will help you to put that physical pain on the back-burner long enough to win the match.

5. Sustain Your Sanity (…Keep Your Cool):

One of the worst ways to exacerbate an injury is to worry about it. You become tensed up. And that’s never a good thing!

This makes your body feel the pain more explicitly than it already does, and it will further take your mind off your game.

To fight this, try to keep your body loose and relaxed. In between points, practice some slow breathing exercises, taking the air all the way in and all the way out.

Imagine a scene that brings peace to your mind, such as a quiet ocean coastline or a serene mountain vista. Again, the mind is a very powerful tool, and it can help pick up the slack when your body is wanting to call it a day.

So, hopefully you don’t have the incredibly taxing time with tennis injuries like Brian Baker, but having a bit of his heart and  bit of his mental fortitude is something I definitely wish upon you.

For more instructional tennis articles, click here.
And for 19 hours of kick butt tennis tips, tricks, and strategies, view this page.

Have a great day, and an even better game,

Brian
TennisMindCamp

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tomaz

Great tips, Brian.

I’d like to add that an “injury timeout” is also a perfect time to develop other skills that are crucial for success in life.

Just swinging the racquet well and playing tennis points well cannot give a person deep fullfillment after their career ends.

Reading books on success, self-development, taking business courses or other educational courses and overall looking to become more skilled in other areas of life besides tennis – because eventually you will need them.

And because they build that core confidence about your inner qualities where your self-esteem doesn’t rely on external results like winning tennis matches. That really gives you deep confidence next time you play a tennis match – because you’re not afraid to lose.

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