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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Tennis


Mental Tennis - Improve Your Game Dramatically

Drew B.

For most average tennis players, practice consists of going out with a friend, hitting the ball around, smacking a couple of serves in, and then playing a couple of games. Once you get a little more competitive, practice gets a little more intense, with the addition of sprints, stretching, and drills. As you finally move up to the pros, there's much more intensity, with long hours of conditioning, etc. but what most people don't realize is that pros also focus on the mental aspect of the game, almost as much, if not more than the physical aspect of the game.

How many times can you remember when you were winning the match, up 5-2 or so, but all of a sudden your body clenched up, and you started losing and before you knew it you had lost. This scenario happens all the time in sports, as well as the scenario where players go out defeated before the match even started. These things and many others are all aspects of the mental game.

One of the biggest things that players get is really nervous and anxious, or too relaxed and not caring at all. Now, anxiety is more common, but they both have to do with the same thing: your state of mind. Your state of mind is always in a flux, changing from relaxed to anxious and anywhere in between. You want to be in the middle: confident about your game, aware and ready to hit anything. This is commonly known as the "zone". When athletes are in this they get that feeling that everything they do is working perfectly, and almost as if time is moving slower.

So how do you get into the perfect state? First, you must always be aware of what state you are in. Are you anxious right now or completely unfocused? If you're extremely anxious, then one tip to help you calm down is to take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will help slow down your heart-rate, making you more relaxed and calm. If you're not focused or ready at all, moving sluggishly or what-not, then some good tips to help you get pumped up and focused is to jump up and down, shake yourself a little bit, and talk to yourself. Say things like "C'mon! Let's go!" When you hit a nice shot, congratulate yourself, or shout the same words as before.

I know how it feels be up 5-2, to even have match point, and blow it. Getting nervous is a killer in sports, so next time use your new tips to keep your state of mind in the middle, oh and also don't get angry, EVER. Anger is almost as bad as anxiety. It kills your concentration and you make mistakes. OK, now, go out and win a few matches for me.

Drew B. is an author and writes about various topics that interest him.

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