Mental Tips

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by simsimdabear, Mar 13, 2004.

  1. simsimdabear

    simsimdabear Guest

    Hi i'm a freshman tennis player at my high shcool and I had beaten 2 varsity players in tryouts but the coach still wouldn't let me in to varsity so now I have to work my way up I'm currently about to finish a close match for #1 in JV and everytime I play in a tourny or something else I always choke. I'm good in practice but thats when there is no pressure. I need to work more so I'm not nervous but I also need some mental preperation. What do you guys do when your about to play a pressure filled game?
  2. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

    Feb 20, 2004
    Don't let choking worry you too much. Everybody chokes, from the weekend player serving out a set to the highest level choke (think Navotna against Graf in Wimby final). Just accept this as part of the game and don't be too worried about losing. The reason why you feel nervous is because you feel that you can't afford to lose a match. If you keep having such thoughts you will definitely choke at important points in a match. Just tell yourself to concentrate on every point and not let small things bother you. Also never get angry at yourself if you do make errors. Just remain calm and play your normal game. Reading some books on the mental aspects of the game may help. (Eg Gilbert's book Winning Ugly is a rich source of information for those looking for mental keys and approach to winning using percentage play.........) Good luck and mostly-> Have Fun!!
    Moonarse likes this.
  3. Cypo

    Cypo Rookie

    Feb 11, 2004
    Make sure that you a following through on your shots and that your split stepping.

    Give yourself more time than usual to get into the match. Play at 70 or even 50 percent of your normal power early in the match to get your rhythm established.

    And, for this situation in particular, you win either way. If you lose the match and play on JV, you'll be getting match experience in a lower pressure situation. If you lost the match due to choking, then it's the best thing that can happen to you.
  4. Eric Matuszewski

    Eric Matuszewski Rookie

    Feb 19, 2004
    Dear simsimdabear,

    I feel for you. We all choke at times, it's actually a good sign, it shows that you care, and it is a good first step to becoming a better player.

    Here's some things that have helped me.

    Focus on keeping your butt down after you hit every stroke.

    Focus on using your legs to hit the ball.

    You can't control alot of things in a tennis match and getting into thinking about stoke technique or even fancy strategy, leads many people (myself included) into being paralized.

    By focusing on simple, little boring things like keeping your butt down you will have a positive way to expend your nervous energy that will have a good effect on you.

    Go get em! Your gonna be a good player!
  5. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004

    I think it is the pressure you put on your own self that causes you to choke. This happens when we try real hard to "move up the ladder" but when it comes time to put out when it counts - fear sets in. False expectation creeps into our minds and we sort of get a nervous panic. Lots of little demons enter you mind such as "gee, maybe I am not this good" or "maybe I should be on JV and I would win easier", or what will the coach or other players think if I lose".

    I dont know what bad thoughts enter your mind before match play but it certainly comes from a lack of inner confidence in your ability. You have to believe in yourself as a person that no matter what happens "win or lose" you are a good man capable of doing well in this life. Tennis is not a game of just strokes. There is an emotional and mental part of this game that needs to be developed and wants to mature. Most athletes stop here.

    Instead of focuing on outcomes of matches (which is what causes mental paralysis and fears) focus on what you want to accomplish during the match. Set some performance goals such as "I only want to make two double faults per set".

    Nerves will always be there before and sometimes during you match, this is normal, it is energy wanting to be released. Be sure to release the energy in a positive direction for yourself even though you feel crummy at first.

    Here are some tips at prematch:

    1. Mental toughenss is a LEARNED BEHAVIOR: Mental toughness may appear to be an "inborn" talent, only reserved for the gifted champions. But nothing could be further from the truth. It is a learned behavior. So always, practice with pressure. Simulate points so you become comfortable. Always try to build pressure in your practices. Have your coach help you or your teammate.

    2. The Success Formula: top level tennis is 1/3 physical, 1/3 mental & 1/3 emotional. Most players spend 100% of their energy, time and money only on the physical.

    3. PRe-match relaxation ritual: Take 10 minutes before each match to calm yourself - deep breathes. Controlling your heart rate is a critical factor in playing in the Zone. (a) turn off all outside stimuli (B) Close your eyes, breath deep & sit still (c) As hard as you can, tighten (for 5 seconds) then relax all muscle groups. Notice the different feelings between tense and relaxed. (d) After relaxing each muscle, repeat "I have the answers to all his/her shots". (e) Before matches, Pros can often be found in a quiet corner of the locker room doing just that!

    4. Pre-match visualization ritual: Take the next 10 minutes before the match to rehearse each stroke & favorite patterns. This way you have already been there, in your mind's eye.

    5. Proactive ways to relieve anxiety: (a) Exercise: A quicj hit or run is a great short-term solution. (b) Assertive action: conquering your demons is the real long-term goal.

    There is more but in a study down by the USTA & David Hemery's Sports Excellence Book, tennis champoins contributed these above rituals as key in helping them overcome their demons and seperating themselves from the average athelete.

    Remember nerves will always be there, now that your aware of them, you need a game plan on how to deal with them so you can play.
    Toby14 likes this.
  6. vin

    vin Professional

    Feb 18, 2004
    When I start to get nervous or lose my confidence, I begin to remind myself of the disgust I feel when I lose a match due to being tentative.

    I also remind myself why I play the sport. For me, winning tentatively is just barely more satisfying than losing while playing well. However, sticking with aggressive play during pressure will do much more for your game than a tentative win will in my opinion.

    Also check out 'The Inner Game of Tennis'. It's a good book about blocking out irrelevant and negative thoughts. I'm surprised no one mentioned it yet.

  7. thomas daniels

    thomas daniels Rookie

    Aug 12, 2017
    Know the game you are playing(Mental). You aren't playing tennis you are playing the mental game, I wrote a few post on this site so check it out and then apply the tips that I shared good luck. Also, pass the (warrior test). For 24 hours, don't think or say anything about your game, that you don't want to become true.
  8. rogerroger917

    rogerroger917 Professional

    Jul 9, 2017
    What ever you do. Do not listen to the guy above. His idea of winning is play the next point harder. And the one after that. Lol.
  9. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation G.O.A.T.

    Oct 20, 2006
    I've coached high school teams for several years and the one book that has made the greatest difference for me both as a coach and a player is Vic Braden's Mental Tennis. I've re-read this book maybe two or three times and I can't help but wish I had found it back when I was your age. I'm certain I would have become a different player early on. I recommend this book all the time.
  10. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Hall of Fame

    Oct 23, 2014
    This was my son when he started in juniors before high school. He was good in practices, solid in practice matches, but in tournament play he under-performed. This is something that most players experience and deal with too, so don't feel alone in it. I still deal with it at times.

    So things I worked on with my son, myself, and some others is to focus on competing instead of winning or losing. Most sports psychology books say to detach emotion from results. For me and what I work on with my son, we have a few main points.
    • Focus on each point and not the score. The score does lie about how well you are actually playing.
    • Things are rarely completely bad, though our tendency when we are down is to think EVERYTHING is wrong. We have a small phrase we say to ourselves to help get out of that funk, asking ourselves "What's good?". This way we can try to use the good things more often while we try to get other aspects of our game back on track. Usually we are doing a lot of good things and only have one or two things we need to improve.
    • Always know that unless you believe someone is better than you, even if they have won a whole bunch of games in a row, you can do the same. At ANY point in the match.
    • There are always more than enough points to win, until the last point of the match is played and you lost. Keep fighting and refer to the above bullet points.
    • Rinse, repeat.
    All the best!
  11. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

    May 9, 2009
    What does &amp mean ?

  12. iChen

    iChen Semi-Pro

    Jul 6, 2013

    I think he just means one third physical, one third mental, one third emotional.
  13. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

    Mar 16, 2015
    I think it was supposed to just be an ampersand "&".
  14. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

    Mar 16, 2015
    Sorry for that last post: the first part must have been a remnant from an unused reply.
  15. mcs1970

    mcs1970 Semi-Pro

    Oct 29, 2013
    Why did you resurrect a thread from 13 years ago?

Share This Page