The Mindset of the Underdog in Tennis

Tennis Psychology

Your Mindset When Playing Higher Ranked Opponents

What is your mindset when facing a higher ranked opponent?

Are you able to maintain your focus and rise to the occasion or do you become intimidated and overwhelmed by the pressure?

Recall a match where you were intimated playing a top-ranked opponent…

It’s these moments where you start comparing yourself unfavorably to your opponent…

You become focused on his ability and talents… his powerful first serve, the pace of his shots… his quickness and ability to cover the court.

You start thinking negatively:

“I’m going to get crushed. I can’t compete with him.”

You become anxious and can’t seem to get into the rhythm of your game…

The result is that you make many unforced errors and, as you predicted, you loss the match handily.

Your mindset is the biggest predictor of success in tennis!

Your mindset affects how you prepare, approach and play in matches.

If you have a confident mindset, you see challenging matches as opportunities to improve your mental game and physical skill set.

A confident mindset will allow you to take bigger risks and reap greater rewards to your development as a tennis player.

A negative mindset sees losses as failure and seeks to avoid them at all costs.

Simona Halep, 22, is a Romanian professional tennis player and is currently ranked fifth in the world. Halep has won seven career WTA titles; six of which were won in 2013 earning her the WTA’s Most Improved Player award. Halep had a breakthrough year in 2013 but has yet to win a Grand Slam Tournament.

Halep faced off against Kvitova (previously ranked No. 2 in the world) in the semi-finals of the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open.

Halep went into the match with the mindset of fighting for each point. Despite losing 1-6 in the first set, Halep rebounded to win the next two sets 6-2, 6-3.

Halep: “I didn’t expect to play final. But you never know. It’s tennis, and that’s why I have just to enjoy every match, to fight for every point, and just to stay focused for the tournament.”

Halep’s win supports the benefits of developing a positive mindset and just playing your game.

Halep: “I can say that on the Grand Slam I can play with the same players like here [Mutua Madrid Open]… But, you know, I have just to take my time and just take the Grand Slam like normal tournament.”

Even after her loss to Maria Sharapova (6-1, 2-6, 3-6) in the finals, Halep maintained her positive mindset and learned from the experience:

“I learned a lot of things today… this final, it’s like a victory for me. It’s not that I lost something.”

Try these tips to develop a confident mindset:

  1. You should view all your tennis experiences (training and competition) as opportunities to challenge yourself and improve your game.
  2. You must focus on your talents and abilities, not the abilities or record of your opponent.

By developing a confident mindset, you will play with higher confidence and see greater results!

Successful tennis players have learned how to perform with ultimate confidence in tournaments. We’ve developed Tennis Confidence: Mental Toughness For Tournament Players to help you do this.

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If you’re not performing up to your potential in matches, most likely your mental game is holding you back. Are you so frustrated with your performance you feel like giving up? Does your confidence evaporate when you play in tournaments? Are you tired of working hard in practice and not getting any results in matches?

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