It’s raining, and you hate when it’s raining. You’re playing for the state championship for the first time in your life. Your friends and family all came out to watch you play, but you hate being the center of attention. Why couldn’t they have just stayed home? You feel tired, you couldn’t get a good enough warm up because you got to the courts late, and you had to skip lunch. Nothing seems to be going right. You shake your head to clear all of these thoughts out of your head, you line up to serve, and you double fault. Now, you have to keep playing under the worst circumstances you can imagine.

What would you do if you had to play under the worst circumstances that you can imagine? Often, when we daydream about tennis, we imagine everything going perfectly. We are playing without any mistakes, the weather is beautiful, and our equipment is working as it should. But, that is just a fantasy. Stuff just sometimes goes wrong. Our racquet needs to be restrung, the new shoes are causing us to have blisters, the line judge is terrible, or there is bad weather. There are so many things that can go wrong, and this can cause anxiety. Often times, the source of our anxiety is the unknown. That is why we plan for the worst-case scenario.

There are two positive benefits that we receive when we discuss our worst-case scenario. First, we can develop a plan for if the worst thing really did happen. Once we decide what the worst-case scenario is, we can begin to think of ways to deal with these issues before they occur. If you choose to only plan for optimal conditions, you will be blindsided by the things that will inevitably go wrong. Secondly, we can be comforted by the fact that whatever the worst-case scenario is, it is unlikely to occur. While there will undoubtedly be things that don’t go as planned, it is unlikely that everything will go bad all at once. However, we will be prepared if they do. So, stop working, imagining, and training as if everything will go perfectly because it will likely not be perfect when it is time to compete. Instead, begin to plan for the scenario when everything goes wrong and you will be prepared no matter what!