Tennis is no doubt an intense physical sport, exhibiting some of the fittest athletes and competitors in the world. However, a hugely underrated component of the sport is it’s ‘chess-like’ mental side.
Anger, negative thoughts and self-doubt:
How many times have you seen tennis professionals in news headlines losing their cool, breaking racquets and having angry outbursts over line-calls and playing conditions? Negativity hampers performance on the court. Self-doubt and negative thoughts cloud judgement and significantly hamper motivation. While some players are able to play their best tennis and fuel their performance with the anger brought on by a suspicious line-call, there’s no doubt that learning to be aware of and control one’s emotions on the court is a skill worth mastering.
Positivity, composure and positive self-talk:
Tennis has it’s explosive characters, but it is world-renowned for players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, able to stay calm and composed no matter the match conditions. Not only does maintaining one’s emotional state on the court prevent reductions in performance, but a display of confidence and composure is a strong message to opponents looking for some sign of weakness. When it comes to self-talk, the more you say something the more likely it is to happen. This is why maintaining composure through positive self-talk is a hugely beneficial tool for mastering the mental aspect of tennis. Instead of getting down after a missed shot, focus on the next point and say to yourself “Next one, you can do it.”
Managing motivation levels:
Motivation is another important component of tennis. A player lacking motivation will struggle to reach peak physical performance and a player with too much motivation can struggle with being tense and making clouded tactical decisions. Finding the right balance allows a player to reach peak performance without clouded judgement or emotional instability.
Finding your ideal motivation level is a trial and error process. Comparing matches where you struggled to stay positive and calm with matches where you struggled to find the drive to maintain intensity will allow you to find the sweet-spot. Find the zone where you performance your best tennis and you’ll find the key to unlocking your tennis potential.