The Real Culprit to Tension in Tennis

Tennis Psychology

Are you Playing Tense?

Do your strokes feel controlled or tight in competition compared to practice? If so, I have an important tip for you today…

I wanted to follow up with you on my last post by highlighting a recent question I received from a tennis player:


“I don’t understand how I can hit backhands in practice easily and when I go to play a match, I can’t hit one backhand. I freeze and the tension won’t let me hit the backhand.”

Here’s my answer:

If your strokes feel tight in matches compared to practice, that’s a sign your mind is getting in the way and not allowing you to let go…

You must find the real culprit to the tension. You probably think tension is the real problem.

But having worked with high-level athletes for over 20 years, I know better…

The “tension” you feel does not happen all on its own. Something else is at the root of the problem, which most players and coaches don’t see on the surface.

Here’s what I mean:

Most likely, when you play in matches, the outcome is more important to you (for many reasons I won’t go into here). For most players, they want to play well or win so badly and they can’t handle failure.

This mindset causes you to worry about failing or not playing to your capabilities, a root cause of fear of failure.

Now take note, here is the real culprit to the tension – the fear of making errors cause you to lose trust in your strokes. The lack of trust causes the tension, but this started with the fear of messing up or wanting to play well so badly.

OK, the short version…

“I want this badly” > “Don’t screw up” > avoidance mindset > lack of trust > tension > “my backhand feels tight and controlled.”

So, you have to get to the root cause of the tension instead of band aiding “tension” with relaxation training. Most people don’t get this and look for quick fixes to rid themselves of tension.

What’s the solution?

The only way you are going to play freely and trust your strokes is to rid yourself of the fear or pressure-packed expectations you have about match results….

You’ll learn how to do this (and a lot of other cool stuff) in my program, Tennis Confidence: Mental Toughness for Tournament Players.”

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