Watching Serena Williams and Garbine Muguruza during the Wimbledon tennis final, what came to mind as the seasoned veteran tried to make history and the talented newcomer hoped to make her mark, was some of the things each did to calm themselves and reset their emotional clock to play their best during the match. I became so involved in watching that I started taking notes as the points flew by, and the current podcast practically created itself.

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High pressure situations like Wimbledon call on us to ‘stand and deliver’ despite being a jumble of nerves. Knowing that there are millions of people watching from around the world, only adds to the pressure. The following are some of the reset techniques I noticed as I watched the match. Hey, if it worked in front of millions, it should help you at that next power point presentation.

Take a deep breath
I know I’ll get a few eye rolls for saying that, but there is science behind it. Oxygen is a natural relaxant and the first thing that happens when we become stressed is that we begin shallow breathing which decreases oxygen and only adds to a sense of anxiety. So a nice deep breath is one of the best things to do to regroup and help your brain function.

Stay in the moment
Stress levels or anticipation automatically increase when you think about the significance of what will happen if you do or don’t perform. Serena Williams was significantly ahead in Tennisthe second set (5 games to 1) and later admitted she began to think the match was won and what she would do and lost focus. The only problem was that the match was not over and her opponent on the other side of the net was in the moment and telling herself she had to keep fighting, and came back to almost level the score to 5 games to 4.

Have a routine that calms you
If you have watched tennis for any length of time you’ve notice that the players (both men and women) go through the motion of adjusting the strings on their rackets after each point. A calming routine that allows them to return to the familiar and momentarily relax before resuming the activity. Just be careful to not get so involved in a routine that it moves beyond a calming action (see Rafael Nadal).

Do positive self-talk
Serena Williams double faulted a serve that would have given her the match and the on court mic picked up her saying to herself “It’s OK”, and when she later served an ace also asking “Where have you been!?” Despite being down in the second set Muguruza said she was also telling herself that despite the score “I have to keep fighting.” And was able to increase her play because of it. Positive self-talk helps motivation and negative decreases it.

Reframe the mental image
When negative thoughts come up there is usually a mental image of failure that accompanies it. Reframe your situation into a different narrative that works for you. Serena said after she double faulted closing out the match for the tournament, when her time to serve came around again she told herself it was the beginning of the first set and went into her routine for the beginning of the match rather than the end. This helped her get past her nerves and serve more effectively. Muguruza, her opponent, was doing something similar in that she was reminding herself of what she did at the French Open when she beat Serena and that kept her in the match.

You have to have a sense of Belief
If you don’t have a sense of belief that you can do something your mind simply is not going to help you do it. Serena had the belief that it would be challenging but she could win at Wimbledon. Muguruza had the belief that she could hold her own against Serena and did, just not enough this time to win the match. You have to believe you can do something even if it means tackling the parts of it in smaller steps to complete the whole. This gives you something to come back to when you get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Belief and the other points mentioned will help you calm and reset yourself emotionally to go out and make that speech, give that presentation, address a meeting or any other “something” that stands in your way. It’s yours for the taking, and waiting out there for you.

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