How many times have you been in the middle of a match or training session and had thoughts you wish you didn’t have! Frustrations, emotional reactions, then beating yourself up, the negative self-talk “why am I even playing” or “I am so bad”
Every player has been there, and every player attempts to deal with it in their own way, some ways work ok, most do not.
Today I want to share with you some simple yet effective mental tennis tips and how they can help you become a much better player. I will even share with you the company we recommend to get you feeling better and more mentally tough (check out the video interview I did with a Tennis Mental Expert, above).
I am shooting from the hip (being direct) today because I have been in the tennis industry for a long time, and I see the missing pieces for players. This has come about through countless emails and consulting to players globally. There are basic things most players are missing out on. Once players are educated on the benefits of having a balanced and specific tennis lifestyle, everything gets better, and more wins come.
When I look at the game of tennis, I break it down into 3 EQUAL areas. I call these the 3 Tennis Pillars.
Pillar 1 - Tennis technique and skill acquisition, including; how to technically play tennis, tennis strategy, on-court drills, practice, match play.
Pillar 2 - Mental Tennis Fitness, including developing skills to help with; choking, poor concentration, perfectionism/anger, underperforming, giving up, and low confidence. Skills that help players maximize success on and off the court.
Pillar 3 - Tennis Strength and Conditioning, including; Preparation, Recovery, Speed, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Power, Flexibility, Mobility, Force Absorption.
In order to become the best player, you can be, you need to compete in all 3 areas. Your pillars need to be as strong as each other in order to help support and develop each other. If you are great at tennis practice but lack the mental capacity to close out a match, then what is the point of continually working on your tennis practice.
You need to develop skills to help you close out matches as well as practice on the court. If you play well in matches, but run out of energy and often lose because players are fitter and stronger then what is that telling you? Yes! You need to get fitter and stronger.
My point is you need to be working on improving all 3 pillars. That is not saying you need to spend hours a week working on your mental tennis fitness all the time. It means you need to learn some techniques that are specific to your weaknesses, then apply them until you are competent enough to consider them a strength.
As a tennis player, if you are working well within these areas and following structure from a specialist, you will be setting yourself up to become the best you can be. If you are not then you will fall short of your best, simple.
What we have found historically happens is players focus most of their time and energy on one of the pillars, Pillar 1. Hitting balls or on-court practice. A lot of the time with no purpose or direction. They dabble in off-court Tennis Strength and Conditioning but generally, it isn’t great, often without enough structure to get good results.
Then we have the Mental Tennis Fitness area of a player’s game, the majority of players do nothing to improve this pillar. Can I ask you a question, what have you ever done to improve in this area? Possibly got some advice from a coach or read a book, the truth is that to improve in this area you need to break old habits and create new habits. You need a specific understanding of what is going on when you play and how to be proactive and deal with situations when needed.
This takes education and instruction from an expert. Have a listen to my above video interview with Dr. Anthony Ross, founder of Mentally Tough Tennis. Anthony and his team work specifically with Tennis players, they have also created online resources specific for tennis players wanting to become more mentally robust and confident. Check them out here.
The majority of your time as a player should be spent on the court practicing and playing matches. Your Tennis Strength and Conditioning Training and Tennis Mental Fitness Training should be aimed at working on your areas of weakness, which will help compliment your on-court play and particularly your match play.
The main aim of this blog is to get you to realize you need to be doing some form of training in all 3 areas. I promise you when you do that great things will happen with your game!