Mental Toughness in Tennis
Mental toughness is a powerful ally for any tennis player.
Mental toughness can help you persevere through tough times, “tough out” close matches, help you overcome mistakes quickly and keep your confidence in tact no matter who you play against.
Can you recall a tennis match where a dose of mental toughness could have vaulted you to a victory?
Maybe, you felt pressure to be perfect on the court… You start off the match feeling great, going for your shots and hitting winners.
Then, all of a sudden, you miss a few uneasy shots and your game unravels. Instead of hanging tough and fighting for points, you begin to give away easy points by second-guessing your shots or getting frustrated.
I interviewed Steve Siebold, one of the world’s foremost experts on mental toughness training.
Siebold authored the book, “177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class” and is a former professional tennis player, coach, performance expert and business consultant.
Siebold talked about the dangers of perfectionism and how adversity can be a catalyst to mental toughness.
SIEBOLD: “Many make [perfectionism] sound like it’s a good thing. [When I coached], I always said, ‘I don’t need perfection, I need someone who is mentally tough enough to lose, lose, lose and come back and keep fighting.'”
“In the business world, [successful] entrepreneurs just fail, fail, fail and they just keep coming back because they don’t recognize failure as a problem. They just recognize it as a stumbling block on their way to getting what they want.”
“I try to move people away from the concept of perfectionism and towards being mentally tough. When you get kicked, you get back up because that’s life.”
“[Perfectionists tend to] think they have to get it right and if they don’t, they shut down mentally. That’s a formula for failure.”
COHN: “What do you teach your athletes to help develop these mental skills like toughness and dealing with adversity?”
SIEBOLD: “The thing I try to get athletes to understand is that the human mind is simple in terms of programming and self-talk: what they are saying to themselves before, during and after a play… and what they are saying to themselves in practice. How are they programming their minds in terms of their belief systems? Are they beating themselves up when they are playing or are they talking to themselves like a world-class athlete would?”
Try these tips to become a mentally tough tennis player:
- Tip #1: Focus on improvement not perfection. Look for 1-2 things to improve for each practice. Don’t allow mistakes or bad matches impede your progress. Make daily improvement a habit.
- Tip #2: Control your self-talk. Don’t buy into the self-critical, degrading messages you feed yourself. Program your mind with positive self-talk that will build your confidence, deepen your commitment and strengthen perseverance.
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Tennis Confidence: Mental Toughness For Tournament Players
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Six Unforced ‘Mental Game’ Errors Tennis Players Make Between Points
- How your mind can be your best or worst asset on the court.
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- One strategy that can help you let of go the last point.
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