How to Mentally Outlast Your Opponent in Tennis

Mental Tactics to Outlast Your Tennis Rival

Would you agree that tennis is a grueling physical game? Matches are long, and your physical conditioning needs to be on point to be competitive.

On average, best-of-3 tennis matches last about two hours or longer, while best-of-5 matches last approximately three hours or longer, so you need to mentally outlast your component.

Matches can drag on when they are highly contested and include several tiebreaks. Add hot temperatures, aggressive opponents, long rallies, and matches can become increasingly difficult and physically draining.

However, tennis is often more mentally grueling than physically. Every physical aspect of a tennis match has a mental component. Think back to some of your most grueling matches. 

For example, when you competed in excessive heat, humid conditions, long rallies, close matches, tiebreakers, playing a rival, feeling sick, or dealing with a nagging injury.

These circumstances probably affected you mentally more than physically. In these instances, your mental game either helped you endure the physical challenges or contributed to you succumbing to your circumstances.

For example, imagine playing in 90-degree, humid conditions. The sun is beating down upon you, and you are sweating and feeling exhausted. As the match dragged on, every point was a struggle to stay focused, play aggressively, and battle for points.

If you were focused on the difficult circumstances, you were probably less than your best on the court. However, if you were focused on fighting for each point, you were probably better equipped to win points or outlast your opponent despite the conditions.

The key to sustaining your motivation and energy is mental endurance. Mental endurance—the ability to persevere through difficult situations and withstand challenges—provides a mental edge when competing in adverse circumstances.

Much like physical endurance, mental endurance is built up through training. You build mental endurance by challenging yourself in training sessions and positively responding to challenging circumstances during competitive matches

Mental training helps you develop the mental skills (confidence, focus, emotional control, poise under pressure) necessary to meet challenges throughout tennis matches.

When you have a high degree of confidence, you believe you can compete regardless of the circumstances. A laser focus helps you pay attention to your game without being distracted by your circumstances Emotional control and staying relaxed help you maintain your composure and energy when things are not going your way.

When you build your mental endurance, challenges become less daunting. At the 2024 French Open, Stan Wawrinka beat Andy Murray 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 Murray was broken early in each set while going 0 for 2 on his break chances.

Both players are in their late 30s. Wawrinka was 39 years-old while Murray just turned 37. Murray noted that age has significantly impacted practicing and competing.

MURRAY: “Physically, tennis is not easy for me nowadays.”

Again, tennis is undoubtedly a physically challenging sport. To endure physical difficulties, you need to be mentally prepared and skilled at overcoming any challenge.

Mental endurance is the difference-maker to playing your best tennis, no matter your circumstances.

Spend 15 minutes each practice performing under duress. Create scenarios that are both physically and mentally challenging. 

The goal is to stay positive, focused, energized, and determined to rise to the occasion and win out over your circumstances.

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Improve Your Mental Game for Tennis

Tennis Confidence 2.0

Tennis Confidence 2.0

This Tennis Confidence: Mental Game Strategies for Tournament Playersis Dr. Cohn’s program to help tennis players, coaches, and instructors improve the mental game of tennis is just 8 easy to learn sessions. Tennis Confidence: Mental Game Strategies for Tournament Players Audio and Workbook program is ideal for any junior, collegiate, and tour professional player. Tennis coaches and instructors would also be wise to teach the strategies “Tennis Confidence.”

Tennis Confidence is a complete mental training program developed Dr. Cohn. You learn the same strategies Dr. Cohn teaches his personal students to help them improve mental toughness and consistency – from managing unrealistic expectations to coping with perfectionism.

Read more about Tennis Confidence Program>>

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