Playing your best tennis requires more mental focus that probably any other sport. We have all heard of the importance of having the ability to focus our thoughts and emotions during play.
The two most frequent mental states that will lead to certain defeat are:
1. Giving up Mentally
2. Getting Angry.
Giving up mentally often occurs at times where it seems easier to give up rather than deal with the challenge in front of you. You may try to tell yourself you don’t care but not caring actually reduces some of the pain and nervousness of playing. You don’t perform well, because you’ve given up! You make excuses and tell yourself your poor performance was due to the wind, the sun, what you ate for breakfast, etc. You convince yourself your loss was not really your fault, emotionally you don’t care as much and you don’t feel as bad about your performance.
Some people mistakenly believe that getting angry can actually motivate, arouse and stimulate you to compete. But in fact, anger is a negative emotion and sports psychologists have proven that peak performance is generated by positive emotions. Put aside you own perceived experiences about your performance for a moment because everyone is biased when it comes to their own performance. Instead, ask yourself when you have observed players get angry on the court, amateur or professional, has you ever though, “wow that has really helped their game”? More likely, you thought to yourself “Oh boy, he/ she is really falling apart now.”
Here are a few tips to help deal with the mental phenomenon of Giving up Mentally and Anger Management during a competitive tennis match:
Before each serve and before each return of serve, establish some physical movement that you repeat each time. It doesn’t matter if it is putting your hair behind your ears (Sharapova) or away from your eyes (Federer), bouncing the ball a fixed number of times (Jokovich), bouncing the ball from behind you in-between your legs and catching it in front of you (Isner), or a combination of all of these. You probably already have a ritual, but are unaware it exists. The important thing is to know what it is are and to consciously perform it every time. This will help you focus on the task at hand and shut out external factors that change with the day, the court and/or the opponent.
The point at hand is more important than the point just ended or the next point to come. If fact, when you are on the court, the only point that actually matters is the one you are currently playing. Often times players will replay over and over the previous point in their head. This will distract you from the point at hand. Also, players might start thinking ahead to winning the game, set or match. Do not to remove your thoughts from the task at hand. Stay in the moment.. Often when a player begins give up or get angry he/ she is thinking about past points. And thinking about future points can lead to loss of the present point due to lack of focus. It’s like looking at where you want the ball to go instead of watching the ball into your racquet, and we all know that is a “no no.”
Everyone makes mistakes, even the best players in the world. Don’t expect perfection. Such expectations inevitably lead to disappointment. If your opponent hits a winner that was impossible to get, say “good shot.” A positive attitude will improve your play a negative one will defeat all of your efforts.
If you feel confident, you it will show in your strokes. A confident demeanor, walk, body language, and presence will give your opponents the feeling that you know what you are doing and know what you want. Let them know you are going to win! Smile, visualize and bring home the win.