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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Tennis


The Importance of Mental Fitness in Tennis

Sydney Garrison

If you have ever played the game of tennis, you know that no matter how fast and how strong you are, if your head isn't in the game, you are going to lose. This is true for players new to the game and for those athletes who have been playing tennis for many many years. In order to play a truly successful game of tennis, you need to be mentally fit as well as physically fit.

Like physical fitness, mental fitness fits into the same four categories: strength, flexibility, speed and agility. Strength is the first important component. When you look at strength as a purely physical concept, it is seen as providing strong resistance to outside forces. For example, being able to lift heavy weights. However, in terms of mental fitness, strength is being able to provide strong resistance under extreme levels of emotional pressure.

Flexibility is the next component. Physical flexibility allows you to get into different positions in order to react to whatever shot is being sent your way. Mental flexibility does the same, though instead of being able to stretch your body, you can stretch your mind. You could look at this time of flexibility as creativity and the ability to control your emotions throughout the game.

Speed is the next component. As a physical attribute it allows you to react quickly to each shot, reaching its destination in plenty of time to return the ball successfully. Mental speed allows your mind to move quickly and stay at pace with the game. It won't matter how quick your body can be, if your mind doesn't trigger it to move fast, you won't get to your shots in time.

The last mental skill you will need is agility. As a physical attribute it refers to the ability to move, stop and change direction quickly without forfeiting control. It also encompasses the ability to recover from problems such as a loss of balance. As a mental trait, it requires that you negotiate a wide range of emotions. You will need to stay mentally and emotionally balanced even when things are not going your way.

No matter how physically skilled you are at the game of tennis, and no matter how physically fit you are, your mental state plays an important roll in your execution of the game. As you improve physically, your mental prowess must increase as well. Once you have learned to "get your head in the game", you will see remarkable improvements in your performance.

Sydney Garrison is an avid cyclist and sports enthusiast. She is also a partner in an online bike carrier store.

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