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Tennis Anyone?

Developing Tennis Mental Toughness


One of the best ways to develop tennis mental toughness is to talk to yourself during matches when you feel yourself tightening up. Basically, you're trying to overpower your subconscious inner voice which is controlling your tennis mind, sending you negative messages. At this point you need a kind of tennis mental toughness.
 
Almost every player has had the experience of hitting certain shots beautifully in practice but then being unable to play as well in matches.
 
Obviously, this isn't a physical or stroke technique issue since you can hit the shots in practice. No, it's your tennis mind, and more specifically your subconcious tennis mind, sending you negative messages.
 
So, if you find yourself tightening up and not following through on your strokes when you're in a close tennis match, you need to develop a specific mesage to keep repeating to yourself.
 
For example, you might repeat over and over to yourself "Follow through all the way". Or maybe you might say "Follow Throoooooooooooooooooo.......". By exaggerating the end of the word you will probably exaggerate the end of the stroke.
 
To develop tennis mental toughness you have to experiment with phrases that work specifically for you.
 
Using Visualization To Develop Mental Toughness In Tennis
 
Another way to improve your mental tennis game and to improve your tennis mind, is to use the same visualization techniques that high level athletes use.
 
If you find yourself tightening up, then in between points, visualize yourself being loose and hitting the perfect shot. Keep repeating this image over and over in your mind. Next thing you know you'll be ripping winners all over the place.
 
Developing your tennis mental toughness is just one aspect in improving your tennis game. Another critical aspect is learning all about tennis tactics and strategies.

Understanding body language will help to boost your performance.

 match play

The important thing to know is that body language not only intimidates and affects the play of your opponent (which some players seek to do, and others are not focused upon at all), it also has a powerful effect upon the way you play as well.  Let's discuss some of the body language aspects that will help to boost your performance, and also the ones to avoid. 

1. Winners generally walk faster than losers on the court.  Always keep your pace in between points and games fast and confident - with your head and shoulders up, never slumped.
 
Andre Agassi used to be a great example of this, while Roddick is another.   Moving confidently between points and games has a powerful effect over your own mental attitude and performance, and shows to your opponent that you mean business.  
 
Avoid slow walking unless you are deliberately slowing down the quick pace of your opponent.  Players who losing a match tend to walk slower and slower as the match wears on, and their heads and shoulders begin to drop lower and lower with each game - avoid this at all costs!    It will have a negative affect upon your performance and boost the morale of your opponent.  
 
Every time you change ends and pass your opponent at the net, walk confidently and quickly, and also do not show any exertion - breathe normally, not heavily - and show them that you have heaps of energy left (even if you don't!) - as this might start to bother them if they start getting tired themselves.
 
So, even if you are not winning the match, act like you are.  This really confuses your opponent.
 
Basically you need to become - right now - the winning player you wish to be in the future - and you do this by behaving the way this future player would behave, walking the way they this future players would walk, and playing the way this future player would play, etc etc.
 
2. Become "the machine" in your opponent's eyes.  Never show your frustration or annoyance to them in any way whatsoever - hide it in any way possible.  Never show your opponent that their game is "getting to you" even if you are not winning the match - and eventually they will begin to wonder just what it takes to get you down.
 
Let's face it - no-one wants to play "a machine"!  By demonstrating a relentless 'Terminator' type of attitude on court, along the lines of "I do not stop until I achieve my goal" - it can psychologically and mentally wear down your opponent, and cause them to make crucial unforced errors at important times in the match.  Lleyton Hewitt has won many matches from this attitude. 
 
Of course, it's fine to show positive emotions any time - just keep the negative ones to yourself, or they will boost your opponent's morale, and their game - which is the last thing you want to do.
 
3. Create a winning feeling inside yourself during your matches, to boost your performance.  When you hit a fabulous shot or win a big point, briefly squeeze your hand into a fist and say to yourself "yes!".  (You do this purely to yourself, not towards your opponent).   This reinforces the winning feeling and help deliver optimum performance.
 
This is a great little habit to cultivate in your matches, to boost your performance.  While some players like to use this as an intimidation tactic towards their opponents (which can sometimes backfire, as it can make the opponent angry and more determined), I am actually talking about using this method purely to strengthen your own performance - as this uses your great shots to help to create a stronger "winning feeling" within your mind and body - which helps to deliver a stronger performance from you as the match wears on.  
 
Remember, no-one even needs to know that you are doing this - this is purely something that you quietly do, and say, to yourself - in order to strengthen your winning mood.
 
4. Everyone gets nervousness, angry or frustration at times - even the champions.  The key is to use it positively by channeling these emotions into your shots rather than using them for self-sabotage purposes, such as verbal self abuse, racket-throwing etc.
 
This is also along the lines of "not showing any weakness" to your opponent - and something the elite champions seem to have over their lesser opponents - emotional control.   This is not to say they don't get angry, frustrated or down - they do - it's just that they know what to do with these feelings, when they occur.  
 
So whenever you are feeling negative, nervous or frustrated in any way, channel this valuable emotion into your shots, rather than using it for self-destruction - leave that to your opponents instead!   Emotional energy is very powerful and champions always seem to know how to use it - the right way.
 
So that's it - bringing these four principles into your game will make a huge difference to your results, and will even allow you to win some matches that you might have otherwise lost, because the "slight edge" they create is often all you need to close out those tight matches.   Try it and see!