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View Full Version : Is tennis is 80% mental 20% physical?


Haka Boy
02-26-2005, 09:13 PM
It varies between what article you read but the majority of sports psychologists say that in any sporting event it is roughly 80% mental 20% physical. Apart from that they all agree that in any sporting event "having the mental edge" over an opponent has the overriding power to eventually dictate the final score.

A recent game score is Spadea over Blake. Spadea has now won the last 5 matches against him. No doubt at all to me that Blake definitely has the game to beat him but was it having the mental edge that held him back?

Hewitt uses mental tactics, oh yeah that childish "come on" is a mental tactic. Serena has "intimidation" and ego down to a fine art.

Federer is a true champion but how hard would it be to have him as your next opponent? Imagine the mental game that precedes the actual game!

raftermania
02-26-2005, 09:34 PM
Do you think Sports Psychologists would make any money if they said sports are 90% physical????

http://www.stkp.com/POSER/balance.jpg
In sports you need your body just as much as you need your mind. The car can't drive itself and likewise, the driver can't drive without the car.

TheNatural
02-26-2005, 11:04 PM
Hewitt uses mental tactics, oh yeah that childish "come on" is a mental tactic. Serena has "intimidation" and ego down to a fine art.



Is the Kiwi haka some sort of childish mental tactic? :D

Datacipher
02-26-2005, 11:35 PM
Do you think Sports Psychologists would make any money if they said sports are 90% physical????

http://www.stkp.com/POSER/balance.jpg
In sports you need your body just as much as you need your mind. The car can't drive itself and likewise, the driver can't drive without the car.

Exactly, sports are 100% percent mental WHEN you have the physical skills and capablities. When you don't....it ain't matter what you think....lol

At the tour level, the guys have proven physical capabilities, so indeed the mental aspect becomes very important, though don't underestimate even at that level the physical elements that go into it. You can't get Agassi's hand eye by thinking about it, or Federer's movement.

At the lower levels, the gap in physical capablities becomes even more pronounced. If you're an out of shape 3.5 or even 4.5, you can believe you are the king of tennis(and some do!) but you're gonna get smoked by the open players.....

For anyone under 5.0, I'm with Braden when he said "many players, anxious to improve their tennis game, try to cover all the bases and do everything they can think of, they plot intricate new strategies, eat granola, and study Zen- but they neglect to actually work on their strokes. As a result, they continue to finish 2nd in a field of 2..."

Kaptain Karl
02-26-2005, 11:59 PM
I love Raftermania's question in post #2.

My answer is ... tennis is 100% mental AND 100% physical.

We've all seen knowledgeable coaches who never had -- or no longer have -- the ability to win the tournaments anymore. That's part of why they become coaches. They still have a lot of the mental ... their physical is not "up to snuff" anymore.

Safin is an example of one who has more physical than mental capabilities. So was Nastase.

Hewitt is an exampleof one who has more mental than physical capabilities. So was Chang.

Tilden, Laver, Conners, Borg, Mac, Wilander, Sampras (and I think) Federer ... have both.

- KK

35ft6
02-27-2005, 01:31 AM
Do you think Sports Psychologists would make any money if they said sports are 90% physical????Word.

Plus, you're going to be more mentally secure if you have the physical skills and strength to back it up.

Rabbit
02-27-2005, 05:39 AM
I disagree. 90% of tennis is half mental.

verdasco67
02-27-2005, 07:58 AM
most pro's say its 90% mental, 10% ability

TommyGun
02-27-2005, 08:06 AM
Love some of the tongue-in-cheek posts here.

Any competitive coach will tell you that the most critical skills to have, especially at crunch time, are mental. Perfect example is Safin.

Based on his talent and physical size alone he should have much more then the two majors in his portfolio. But watch him in critical matches or on grass, which requires almost perfect concentration. He just can't do it consistently.

I disagree that the physical can over-ride the mental completely. Jimmy Connors at 39 was still a hell of an athlete, but clearly in his US Open run the last time he was outgunned almost the entire tournament. His mental ability, along with his personal confidence, are what won those matches.

The beauty of being human...its not just opposable thumbs...

Haka Boy
02-27-2005, 02:09 PM
Ka mate, Ka mate, Ka ora, Ka ora etc etc etc

The haka is the kiwi war dance. The words are chanted loudly (shouted) in a menacing way accompanied by arm actions and foot stamping. A haka was traditionally performed before charging into battle.

Me doing it? yes "childish" :mrgreen: I may have a "mental" edge doing it "physically" I dont have what it takes.

Instead of scaring people they tend to just laugh.......

Kobble
02-27-2005, 02:32 PM
I don't like the way the statement is prased. I would rather see someone state that the mental aspect is the most influential variable once certain physical capabilities are met. It holds true for tennis becuase so many players play a similar game. However, I believe the best in any sport are the ones that have taken the physical abilities to another level, therefore, reducing the role of mental toughness on their outcome. I mean, mental toughness does very little when trying to return an Ivanisevic serve, or defending against Safin's down the line backhand. You can be as focused as you want and believe you can, but being their to make the play is another story.

degreefanlindi
02-27-2005, 02:36 PM
I always considered individual sports in general to be more mental than physical...although both are obviously important to success. Mental toughness often results from great physical effort, so I really think you need to have the skills first.

ibemadskillzz
02-27-2005, 02:46 PM
it's 100% physical. you are scared to play pressure points? haha you have a weak heart. tough it out.

Rabbit
02-27-2005, 05:12 PM
In all seriousness, what separates the top ten in the world from the rest of the pack is all between the ears. If you watch division I tennis, you're watching guys who have the strokes of the ATP. What they don't have is that something special that the guys who do it for a living have. Someone mentioned Connors. Towards the end of his career, it wasn't his strokes that won him matches, it was knowing how to win. The difference between me at 46 as a 4.5 and me at 26 as a 4.5 is that now I know what shots to hit when. Then, I had a really nice set of wheels and could run all day. (Now it takes all day to run!)

davey25
02-27-2005, 06:43 PM
For the most part I believe that to be true. Then again I look at Jana Novotna, Gabriela Sabatini, Mary Pierce, and Conchita Martinze and I think to myself if tennis were really as much as 80% mental they would never have even reached the top 100. So maybe only on the mens side. LOL!

fastdunn
02-27-2005, 08:02 PM
Some aspects of tennis are purely mental, I would say.
Things like Dimentieva's serve. Or Federer's early struggle with Nalbandian.
Or Federer's suddnely becoming invincible after 1st major win.
And so on...

35ft6
02-28-2005, 12:04 AM
Some aspects of tennis are purely mental, I would say.
Things like Dimentieva's serve. You don't think her serve needs a technical adjustment at all?

Max G.
02-28-2005, 12:50 AM
You don't think her serve needs a technical adjustment at all?

Well, the story on the serve is the reason she can't switch is mental. In practice, she can hit a pretty good serve; but she just can't bring herself to use her "new, improved, completely redone serve" in matches because she gets too nervous to execute it and just reverts back to her old technique.

I think that's what it is.

(I suppose that means that the mental game also affects the technical game, and vice versa)

35ft6
02-28-2005, 02:04 AM
Good technique, physical endurance and stamina, generates confidence. In the fifth set of the French, chances are the more confident guy is the one who is less fatigued. It's the chicken or the egg question.

Camilio Pascual
02-28-2005, 04:38 AM
Tennis is VERY mental. But, I'll still take Don Budge over Albert Einstein.

Cypo
02-28-2005, 05:32 AM
It's interesting, there are two understandings of mental here - one being game smarts (strategy etc) and the other the more emotional aspect (choking etc).

For me the mental aspect has always meant more the emotional aspect and I think the key to mental toughness is the ability to focus. Players fall apart and are unable to execute when non-productive thoughts interfere. The strongest mentally are the players who can forget that's it's 15-40 and 5-6 and play the same as if it were 40-15 and 5-0. Lendl comes to mind.

This is what I've always understood when people say tennis is X % mental. You can have the best strokes in the world and be in the best physical shape, but if you can't focus, you'll give everything away.

Geezer Guy
02-28-2005, 07:12 AM
I think for the most part the player that's better physically will win the match - especially at the recreational/amateur levels. At the professional level I'd still give a nod to the player with the perfect strokes and execution, but if two players are very close in physical skills then the better player mentally will win.

I think it's 75% physical, 25% mental.

It WOULD be very interesting if there was a way measure JUST the "technical/physical" skills of each player (other than MPH of serve) and see how those rankings compare to win/lose record.

tennisboy87
02-28-2005, 03:23 PM
I would say that the game is more mental than physical once you reach a certain skill level. The higher you go and the better you get, the more mental the game becomes imo. How many times have you heard players saying they choked because they played not to lose or they were scared to go for it, etc? Many players have the strokes, and can use them to great effect in practice, but come time for a match, and they invariably fold. Once you have the physical part of the game down, you must then have the mental capacity to effectively use your strokes. Look at Federer. He's always had the strokes. It's taken the last few years for him to get his mental game up to where he is now dominating the game.

Morpheus
02-28-2005, 05:36 PM
Ya gotta have both to win at the highest level. That, and a great looking girlfriend cheering you on.

finchy
02-28-2005, 06:52 PM
it seems i have just proven that 80% mental 20% physical theory to myself today. i can push and punch when i want to in just a practice rally or whatever, but during my match today against the lamest and lowest person on the ladder, i could not do anything. i told my coach this and he said that it was all mental. i have the game to be #1 in the jv class but my mind is the barrier between me and that. a couple of points, i lost it and blamed something else like the other person on the court that was talking during my serve motion. another time, my crappy opponent would not give me any lines on my serve and sometimes didnt call them out loud but only made a small gesture of "out" when i wasnt even looking which even more ****ed me off. so i basically tanked it and lost it 8-3.

spinbalz
02-28-2005, 06:54 PM
Morpheus, a player gotta have both to win at the highest level, and only once that he won a lot of matches, he will find very easely the great looking girlfriend to cheer him on, it is almost automatic. :)

Mahboob Khan
02-28-2005, 07:05 PM
KK: You read my mind. I was going to say and I am going to say that:

Tennis is 100% mental because it is 100% physical, 100% technical/tactical.

Without positive mind-frame you cannot eat, you cannot sleep, you cannot go out and practice, you cannot do physical work, you cannot do technical/tactical work. Those who say tennis is 80% mental and 20% .. how did they arrive at this analysis. Do they have any special dip stick to measure the mind? Bull-****!

Morpheus
02-28-2005, 07:09 PM
Those who say tennis is 80% mental and 20% .. how did they arrive at this analysis. Do they have any special dip stick to measure the mind? Bull-****!

Relax Mahboob, it's just a saying designed to emphasize the mental demands of the game.

equinox
02-28-2005, 10:12 PM
The higher one progresses in tennis the more mental the game becomes. At top 100 professional level, they all have near perfect strokes and outstanding fitness. What separates the 10th and 100th is mental toughness and ability to play well the big important points and moments in a match.

35ft6
02-28-2005, 10:41 PM
The higher one progresses in tennis the more mental the game becomes. At top 100 professional level, they all have near perfect strokes and outstanding fitness. What separates the 10th and 100th is mental toughness and ability to play well the big important points and moments in a match.I agree with you somewhat, but there's no denying that Safin has bigger shots than most... that Roddick's serve and forehand are huge... that Hewitt's quickness is exceptional... and that Federer's range of shots and graceful athleticism is unmatched.

hotdimsim
03-01-2005, 05:47 PM
i think its 75% mental, 25% physical. Look at federer. Amazing shots, but didnt know how to use them properly till 2003. You need confidence, strategy and well mind being (not choking.

Haka Boy
03-01-2005, 06:53 PM
So who has the best "mental game". This could come down to individual matches played......

Aykhan Mammadov
03-02-2005, 12:17 PM
"Is tennis 80% mental and 20% physical ?"

For me it is 99% physical after half of the 1-st set. It depends on what to understand under the word " mental". If u understand that tennis is chess or moreover is a science like say mathematics, then IMO this is big LIE. Because tennis is simply primitive sport as all other kinds of sport and there are not so many variations of tactics and combinations. Everything may be pronounced by a few words, hit left, then right, far and then short and etc...Say 20-30 combinations.

But if u understand under the word " mental" how do u feel yourself , are you worried when u meet with somebody new for you, are u afraid and etc.. then for me these feeling are present but in the beginning. After half of the set my physical condition starts to play 99% of the role.

For PROs it is big dilemma. From one side why to be worried if u have played already hundreds of matches in PRO tour, and maybe thousand before turning PRO. Every PRO knows very good all 10-20-30 existing combinations of tennis, nothing new. So why Mental must play role ? From another side they are prepaid very great physically. So why physics must play any role ?

Anyhow I saw cases when PRO lost just because he was afraid or overestimated an opponent, and I witnessed when PRO lost just because was physically not ready for the match. Probably 50%-to 50% for PROs.

spinbalz
03-02-2005, 04:02 PM
For me it is all equally at the same time, because if you fail in 1 area of the game, there is no importance if your failure is mental, physical, technical, or whatever else, your opponant will capitalize on it to defeat you.