A Mental Checklist FTW


I love checklists. They’re so linear and easy – and great for simplifying and distilling things to their most important essence. No room for extraneous BS or complicated theory … checklists cut to the chase.

So I suppose it’s not surprising that I have a mental check list for tennis. It’s the list I refer to before a match, when I’m trying to warm up and settle down, or when I find myself struggling. Consulting this list can be either a centering and comforting ritual, or a game-saving hail mary. It’s not foolproof, but I find that more often than not, it’s an important part of my mental game on the court.

I mostly use mental checklists for tennis, but I also see the value for other sports or even just life. Going on a run but feeling a little tired? Pump yourself up with a list of how you’re going to breathe and pace yourself effectively. Heading into an important pitch or meeting? Continually check in with your list of the top 3 key messages you need to hit. The theme here? Know your blind spots and prepare yourself to avoid/address them.

I’ll share my tennis checklist for the sake of illustration, but as you can imagine, it’s important to develop your own personal list(s). A few tips:

  • Everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are different, so  honest contemplation of your personal game (tennis or otherwise) is important when forming your list
  • Limit your list to no more than 3 to 4 items. Less, and it may not be useful enough. More, and it may be too overwhelming and possibly counterproductive, particularly if you’re stressed
  • Make it memorable. Use terms or phrases that are meaningful to you, so that it’s easy to recall your list on a whim (see #1 below) ;-)

My mental tennis checklist, in order of importance:

1. Move your feet (or, as it manifests in my head, given that it’s my #1: MOVE. YOUR. F&*$@ING. FEET.)
2. Hit through the ball
3. Be patient
4. Arm/shoulder up (serves)

What’s your list?

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Chrissy Trampedach
Chrissy Trampedach is a PR & communications pro by day and fitness buff, skiing fanatic, dedicated yogi and wannabe tennis champ by night (and weekend). As a former competitive figure skater, she’s lived a life of training and sports from a young age. Today, she fuels her competitive spirit and drive to challenge her body and mind with USTA tennis, skiing adventures around the world, the SF yoga community and tracking the latest fitness trends. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Tim and their “75-lb lap dog” Enzo.

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