By Dr. Jorge Valverde

1. Do everything with a sense of destiny, focusing on your mission to become the best player that you can possibly be — accomplishing that mission regardless of the circumstances you may face.

2. In your mind, turn every situation into an opportunity that benefits you. The key here is to be persistently optimistic.

3. Practice “environmental engineering.” That means to be aware of the places and people that can influence you in a positive way and make an effort to be in these places and with these people. On the other hand, stay away from any negative influences. Be like an eagle: better alone than with the wrong company. And, remember, eagles are the only birds that fly in a storm.

4. Stay in the path that leads to greatness, doing everything that enables you to compete at peak performance level. Here you need to be detail oriented, so write things down — those things that you need to do daily in order to succeed. This simple approach is very powerful.

5. Fuel your soul with confidence by focusing only on the things that you have absolute control over, letting go of all else. Remember that confidence is established from the inside out and not from the outside in. The best way to do this is by following a daily action plan that leads to greatness. Consequently, outcomes are just magnified mirrors that give clear feedback and allow you to improve your master plan.

6. Let go immediately of any self-doubt and substitute any negative thoughts with imageries of yourself performing well, handling any challenge with confidence, concentration and great determination. Relax and be aggressive. Make a habit of remembering competitive matches in which you played outstanding. Bring into the present the emotions, the strategy, the energy and the passion that you felt during those matches. Then write down all the details of this memory and experience it, once more in your mind. This will allow you to trigger within you a powerful emotional state that you can carry into your next match.

7. Celebrate the opportunity to be where you are; realize that there are many people that would like to be in your position. However, do not compare yourself with anybody else; only compare yourself with the person you desire to be.

8. During competition, stay in the here and now as much as possible by focussing on the sequence of events and the task at hand. Here is where rituals are very important. Remember to keep the right perspective when competing — you can win/lose only one point at a time and the only truly important point is the last one in a match. The moment you attribute too much importance to a point you have won or lost, you have lost concentration and probably the following two points.

9. Remember that breathing properly is essential to peak performance. If you want to become a master at concentration and a great administrator of your physical and emotional energy, you must breathe correctly at all times during the match.

10. Let go of the idea that thinking takes place only at a conscious level. Avoid paralysis by analysis by reducing conscious thinking to just a few seconds right before your next point. Realize that, while competing, the most powerful and efficient way of thinking is subconsciously. Let your automatic pilot take control and enjoy playing in “the zone” more often. Like driving a car, getting in to “the zone” can be learned.

11 Honor the game and your opponent by playing with integrity. Winning is not the most important thing. Your achievements will mean little if you use dishonorable means to attain them. A real winner focuses on becoming the best he can be, while earning the respect of those around him. Winning is a relative term. You must keep it in perspective.