article also published on tennisplayer.net by John Yandell – September 2014, Vol. 10, Issue 6 

 head fixation federer

vida mind – mental conditioning – mental training – sport psychology
Australia – Melbourne – Sydney – Adelaide – Canberra – Brisbane

Students of professional have noted how top players maintain a still head position, focusing on the contact point until well after the ball has left the strings. Roger Federer is widely recognized as the most dramatic example of head fixation, but we see the same phenomenon with many other top players.

What are the advantages of head fixation? A common explanation is that the benefits are technical.  Head fixation is touted as the key to balance, precise execution, and control of the sweet spot.

Less well understood however is the relation of head fixation to the mental game.  But this may be its greatest benefit.

Why?  Holding a fixed head position after contact can be the key to staying in the present moment.  This is turn helps players deal with pressure in a variety of interrelated ways.

Most tennis players lift their eyes and pull their heads up before the ball reaches the racket.  Their anxiety to follow their shot trajectory indicates that they are not truly in the present.

Their concern is the outcome of the shot, rather than its execution.  This concern about the future has a negative impact on what actually occurs.

Research has shown concentration improves with players stay fixated on the contact zone until well into the followthrough. This in turn helps players stay in the process of playing the game.  Under stress the greatest lapses in concentration come when the player allows his minds to project what is about to happen or on what has already happened.

It’s critical that players recognize what they can control, and what they cannot.  Focusing on a process key such as head fixation is something that is within the player’s control on every ball he strikes.

There are many areas where players can experience a loss of control: wind, sun, temperature, opponent and spectator behavior, or types of playing surface. If the player becomes distracted by these or other issues he suffers increased anxiety and loses focus on the task at hand.

This feeling of control reduces stress and counteracts the common problem of becoming overly intense in tight competitive situationsWhen practiced as a repetitive ritual head fixation not only creates the feeling that the player is in control, it also sends the same message to the opponent.

Is it coincidence that Roger Federer—the player with the most pronounced head fixation—has shown a  legendary ability to stay relaxed and produce great shot making regardless of his match position or the score?

Head fixation also helps players implement desired technical changes in competition. Under pressure players tend to revert to old patterns that effect their stroke production and tactics.

When a player remains focused on the present the physical sensations in his body tend to remain stable. This allows the player to stay more relaxed and communicate information to his body in a way that maximizes stroke execution.

vida mind – mental conditioning – mental training – sport psychology
Australia – Melbourne – Sydney – Adelaide – Canberra – Brisbane

By defusing emotion head fixation reduces the chance he will fall victim to motor paralysis.  In this way it works hand in hand with a player’s between point rituals. Ultimately this combination can help free the player from fear of failure.   (Click Here for the article on between point rituals.)

Self-confidence is one of the most important components of a player’s psychological state prior to and during a match. Self-confidence is the belief that one has the ability to perform successfully.

The reality is that gaze and head control has a benefit that extends far beyond the moment of ball impact.  Head fixation can play a key role in developing and maintaining overall confidence.

Since the fixation phase is the same regardless of whether the player is winning or losing, it reinforces the player’s belief that he has the skill necessary to perform well.   It is a simple but very powerful technique that creates synergy between multiple aspects of the mental game and when implemented has a huge positive impact on performance.

If you want to improve your performance and to know more about Vida Mind, do a free session with Dr. Damien Lafont. Contact him at info@vidamind.com.au or call 0435 819 262 and he will get in touch with you to schedule 45 min with you either in person or over Skype. In this free info session with him, you’ll go through what is keeping your performing at your best. You’ll know Dr Lafont, how he works and whether you are a good fit for each other.

vida mind – mental conditioning – mental training – sport psychology
Australia – Melbourne – Sydney – Adelaide – Canberra – Brisbane