Mental Training in Tennis
Mental training for tennis might not be for every player or coach. If you don’t take lessons to improve technique or if you don’t care about your fitness for tennis, then you probably won’t care to improve your mental game for tennis either.
Mental training to improve mental toughness is for more dedicated, tournament players that have a desire to improve everyday. Many recreational players don’t fit this profile. They want to play well when they do play, but are not super committed to improving their physical or mental game.
I got the following mental game question from my tennis psychology survey:
“If everyone seems to think that the mental portion of the game is so important, why don’t the coaches that I (and most women that I know) focus on this aspect at all? Even though we are amateurs and playing for fun, I would still like to win and hone skills that can carry over into the other parts of my life.”
I don’t know exactly why your coaches don’t focus on the mental game of tennis, but I can comment on this based on my experience working as a mental game coach for 20 plus years…
Most coaches do not feel fully trained in the mental game to spend any time in their lessons. Now, I know some coaches that are knowledgeable in the mental game and do integrate this area into their coaching, so it does not apply to all coaches.
Many coaches are comfortable teaching players how to improve strokes and serves. Mechanics are their comfort zone and they often feel like they should stick to teaching technique before integrating mental game strategies into their coaching.
Besides, the mental game of tennis is way more abstract than learning how to hit a backhand.
Another mindset prevents tennis coaches and instructors from utilizing sports psychology. They think there’s not enough time during a one hour lesson or practice to get into the mental game. They don’t know how to integrate mental skills into their regular practice sessions either (a good topic for a future tennis psychology article).
Lastly, a portion of old-school coaches or instructors still do not believe in the mental game of tennis. These coaches think sports psychology or mind training for tennis is voodoo or nonsense. They think that hard work and dedication are the answers to not playing up to your potential in matches – you just have to work harder in practice.
Even if your coach or instructor does not believe in mental training for tennis, you can still improve your mind game for tennis on your own time. Much of my work helping tennis players with their mental game happens off the tennis court. We discuss the mental strategies for tennis that they can integrate into practice and play every day.
I have no quick fixes to help you think like a champion. Mind training happens over weeks and months, not one day. Mind training for tennis teaches you about mental game limitations and develops strategies that will help you overcome your mental roadblocks to success, in addition to developing a mindset to get the most out of your physical game.
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“Danielle did really well with controlling her emotions during the matches today. We were very proud of her for not showing her frustrations during the match; I think that was a big accomplishment. She really looked in control of her emotions even when she double faulted or made mistakes. The changes we saw on Danielle’s behavior in less than 24 hours were AWESOME! Thank you for your guidance!”
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“Maggie had such a great weekend. As always, after she works with you she just seems more grounded and focused. She’s less likely to look around and get distracted during her match. She’s more focused on one point at a time. Also, as a parent, I’ve learned to encourage her process goals and not outcomes. Consequently, she played well and won her first doubles match, upsetting a seeded team in a really really close match!”
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