How to Work Smarter, Not Harder in Tennis 

How to Work Smarter, Not Harder in Tennis

What is the best way for a tennis player to work smarter?

Improvement requires time and effort. However, spending more time practicing is not always the most effective strategy to improve play.

In terms of physical effort, there is a point of diminishing returns. Diminishing returns is when increased physical work provides no gains and is often detrimental to athletic performance.

In our Mental Game of Tennis Needs Survey, a tennis player responded with the following concern:

“I feel demotivated because of consistent bad performances. I put in a lot of extra time outside of team practice but feel stuck playing at the same level. Is there one thing I can do to improve my play in matches?”

The truth is that tennis players have limited time and energy. Players have obligations and responsibilities outside of tennis that can add to their stress levels.

When you put more and more time and effort into physical training and don’t see the rewards, you will become frustrated with your lack of progress and feel burned out.

Tennis players need time away from practice for physical and mental recovery.

If “more” is not the answer, what helps a tennis player get over the hump? The “work smarter” part of the equation is to add mental training into the mix.

If you ask tennis players why they neglect their mental game, they often point to a lack of time. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time on your physical game, carving out time for mental training provides much more benefit.

Mental training helps you on and off the court to deal with stress more effectively, manage your emotions, focus on your game while on the court, and improve your confidence.

One mental skill that is particularly useful when faced with time constraints is time management.

Yes, time management is a mental skill! When you learn to manage time effectively, you can maximize each minute of practice, improving your overall performance.

The 2021 US Open Champion Emma Raducanu had an emotionally draining 2023 season.

During the season, Raducanu dealt with injury issues, underperformed, and fell out of the Top 100 leading her to take a brief hiatus to mentally and physically recover.

RADUCANU: “I think anyone who’s actually worked with and around me knows that I’m a really hard worker. It’s true that if you put in the hours and hours and hours and hours, it’s going to get you there. But at some point, you get diminishing returns, and it’s just not the most efficient way to train or learn, and knowing when to pull back and actually work smarter is when you get more out of yourself and better results.”

Developing your mental game is key to working smarter and maximizing your time. When you carve out time for mental training, you will find your play improves, you feel less stressed,  and you enjoy tennis more.

The best method to work smarter is to manage your time more efficiently so you can take time to improve your mental game.

Creating a written schedule will help keep you on track and maximize your time. Maintain a level of flexibility as your circumstances may change from week to week.

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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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