Using a tennis psychologist might not be for every tennis players. And I’ll tell you why in just a moment… But first I want to discuss the role of sports psychology in tennis.
The goal of sports psychology for tennis is to help players perform their best by improving the necessary mental game skills to excel in tournaments. Tennis psychology seeks to achieve the overall goal of performance improvement and enhancing consistency in your performance. No voodoo or psychoanalysis here. And sports psychology for tennis players is not about working with problem players or bad behavior.
I prefer to use the title “mental game coach” because I think players can relate to this title better than “tennis psychologist” or “sports psychologist.” Mental game coaching is education and not therapy – its’ another facet of performance enhancement similar to functional training.
I go out of my way to make sure my students understand that I am not trained in traditional “psychopathology” nor have a license to practice psychology. My professional background is in education, physical education, sports, and sports psychology. My experience also comes from the sports world as a former athlete, coach, and for the last 20 plus years, as a mental game coach to athletes.
How do you know when you need or could benefit from tennis psychology? I start by asking some important questions. Are you performing up to the ability you have shown in practice? Do you perform as well in tournaments as you do in practice? I am sure you know some fellow tennis players who have been labeled with “great talent” or physical skills, but have not performed up to their full potential. This is a primary sign that one’s mindset may be getting in the way of performance and when a tennis psychologist or mental coach is warranted.
Here are some other questions to consider:
- Are you so self-conscious that you worry about what others think about your performance?
- Do you have any doubts about your tennis game before or during matches?
- Do you get so anxious that you don’t have a calm mind or think straight in matches?
- Are you motivated by a fear of failure and does this affects your performance in matches?
- Do you get distracted easily by things that go on around you in your environment?
- Do you become easily frustrated when things do not go according to plan?
Working with a sports psychologist may not be appropriate for every tennis player. Not every person wants to “improve performance.” Sport psychology for tennis is probably not for recreational players who participate for the social component and to have a fun weekend. Moreover, if you do not spend time improving fitness or working with a coach, most likely you will not adhere to a mental coaching program.
Young tennis players whose parents force them to see a sports psychologist are not good candidates either when the child does not understand or see the utility in mental game coaching. It is very important that a player understand the importance of mental coaching and wants to improve his or her mental game without the motivation to satisfy a parent. Similarly, an athlete who sees a mental game expert only to satisfy a coach will not apply mental training.
Sports Psychology does apply to a wide variety of serious tennis players such as tournaments players. Most of my students (junior, high school, college, and professional athletes) are highly committed to excellence and seeing how far they can go in sports. They love competition and testing themselves against the best in their sport. They understand the importance of a positive attitude and mental toughness. These athletes want every possible advantage they can get including the mental edge over the competition.
Sports Psychology is about improving your attitude and mental game skills to help you perform your best by identifying limiting beliefs and embracing a healthier philosophy about tennis.
Below are some ways tennis players can benefit from a tennis psychologist or mental game coach:
- Improve focus and deal with distractions.
- Grow confidence and cope with doubts.
- Develop coping skills to deal with setbacks and errors.
- Find the right zone of intensity for optimal tennis performance.
- To instill a healthy belief system and identify irrational thoughts.
- Improve or balance motivation for optimal performance.
- To develop game-specific strategies and game plans.
- To identify and enter the “zone” more often
Want more information? Check out my sports psychology programs for tennis players.