“Pressure is a privilege,” Bille Jean King says. It’s also an inescapable fact of every tennis player’s life. With the recent advent of the Universal Tennis Rating (UTR), that pressure has only been ratcheted up for rec players. Now that we have a specific number attached to our names, we know exactly who we shouldn’t lose to.

How can we alleviate some of that stress? Even better, how can we use it to our advantage?

This week, our 5-step plan outlines how to take the pressure off yourself—and put it on your opponent. In case you missed it, Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3.

Being specific about your tactics will help crowd out negative thoughts and keep you from stressing about the future.

Being specific about your tactics will help crowd out negative thoughts and keep you from stressing about the future.

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Think

The consensus is that athletes should avoid thinking at all costs. It just gets in the way of what they’re trying to let happen naturally. No one wants to have to think about how to hit a forehand as they’re trying to hit it. But one of the best ways to forget about the pressure and nerves you’re feeling is to keep your mind occupied with positive and specific thoughts.

“I like to call it ‘changing the channel,’” Greenwald says. “Instead of worrying about what’s going to happen, ask yourself, ‘What’s going to help me win?’”

According to Austin, thinking about your tactics is especially important during high-stress moments, such as when you’re trying to close out a set or a match.

“When you’re near the finish line,” Austin says, “you’re mind may be racing ahead, so you need to bring it back to the here and now. Think about what you need to do on the next point. Plan where you’ll serve, tell yourself to keep the ball deep, think about where you want to move your opponent.” Being specific about your tactics will help crowd out negative thoughts and keep you from stressing about the future.

That specific thinking should extend to the way you pump yourself up. Positive self-talk is always good, but keeping it reality-based is even better. Before and during the match, try to recall times in the past when you’ve come through in pressure moments. “It’s not just positive thinking that helps,” writes Jonathan Fader, Ph.D. in Psychology Today, “it’s positive statements that are true. ‘I’ve succeeded in this situation before’ is a much more effective self-statement than ‘I can do this!’”