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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Tennis


Mentally Preparing For Wimbledon

Learn How The Pros Prepare Mentally For The Most
Important Tennis Championships In The World

You Can Learn These Mental Lessons To Focus Your Mind
To Handle Adversity-In Sports, Business and Life

Bill Cole, MS, MA

You may not be about to play Wimbledon, the most prestigious tennis championships in the world, but what is the Wimbledon in your life? How do you mentally prepare for a big, arduous event? I will be coaching the Israeli Davis Cup Team at Wimbledon this year, and here I bring you some little known facts about the event that can make or break a player mentally. Take these mental strategies and apply them to your sport, your business world and even to life itself.

1. Wimbledon Has Maddeningly Officious Administration. More than other pro tournament, Wimbledon is not very player-friendly. They do not make a player's stay there easy or conducive to excellent mental focus.

Mental Tip--Expect this micro-management style and go with the flow.

2. Wimbledon Has A Negative And Prying Media. The British media seem to love to torture players by following their private lives and by gossiping about them in full color in the papers.

Mental Tip--Be cordial to the media, but don't give them any fuel for the fire, if there is any. Be professional at all times.

3. Wimbledon Has Very Limited Practice Courts. Even many main draw players are relegated to practicing at nearby clubs that have grass, thereby losing the feel and ambiance of the lawns of Wimbledon.

Mental Tip--Enjoy every minute of practice on grass, at any venue, and imagine you are at the All-England Club at every moment.

4. Wimbledon Has Poor And Erratic Weather. It seems to be the motto of British TV weathermen that if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute. Wimbledon has highly unpredictable and changeable weather conditions, ranging from sweltering heat to rain to sweater weather at the drop of a tennis ball.

Mental Tip--Prepare for every eventuality and remember that the weather is equally terrible on the opponent's side of the net.

5. Wimbledon Has Bad Bounces In Almost Every Game. If clay has bad bounces, then Wimbledon has NO bounces. I enjoy playing on grass, but groundstrokes can be almost nonexistent. This is why serve and volley is King on grass.

Mental Tip--Be ready to improvise, dig, scramble and be scrappy on grass to get the job done. Don't be proud and worry about how you look-play to win and just accept the awful conditions.

6. Wimbledon Has A High Luck Factor. Players armed with only a big serve or a return can score upsets on the temperamental grass. It doesn't seem fair that well-balanced players without those weapons can fall victim to seemingly weaker players who get by on a couple big weapons.

Mental Tip--Accept what each opponent brings to the contest and push issues of fairness out of your mind. Your job is to focus and get the most out of your game.

7. Wimbledon Has A Limited Lead-Up Circuit On Grass. In the old days, Wimbledon was the culmination of a multi-week grass court circuit. Now, there is only three weeks of events in which to prepare. Players have to tune up to the All-England Club grass as they compete.

Mental Tip--Realize everyone has the same limitations. Be the one who adapts the best and the fastest to the surface.

8. Wimbledon Lasts Two Weeks Instead Of The Usual One. Only the majors, the Grand Slams in pro tennis are two weeks in length. This is why they are such a test of mental, emotional and physical skill.

Mental Tip--Make your tennis and training peak for this event and give it everything you've got.

9. Wimbledon Is Steeped In Tradition, And Hence, Pressure. Wimbledon has perhaps the most intensive media scrutiny of any pro tennis event and possesses such revered tradition, that no player can fail to feel its significance.

Mental Tip-- Realize that your opponent has the same pressures to succeed. Enjoy the experience, but keep your focus on what will make you successful.

10. Wimbledon Players Keep A Busy Schedule. Because Wimbledon is so high profile, and because the men and women are together at one site a scant few times a year, everyone plays singles, doubles and mixed (except for a few singles or doubles purists). This creates a time and energy crunch.

Mental Tip-- Take each match on its own merits and stay focused on the here and now. Don't allow the grandeur and overwhelming nature of Wimbledon to intrude into your mental zone.

After all these negatives and problems I have enumerated with Wimbledon, why would anyone want to go there? Simple. It's the premier, most important tennis tournament in world tennis history, and everyone wants be seen there, to play there and win there.

What is the theme of how top players succeed at Wimbledon? Have a strong mental game. They prepare mentally far in advance. They assume the worst and hope for the best. They roll with the punches and stay on an even keel emotionally. They maintain focus. They pride themselves on their mental toughness.

You can do the same in your business, your sport or your life.

Copyright © Bill Cole, MS., MA. 2001, 2008 All rights reserved.

This article covers only one small part of the mental game. A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting, pre-event mental preparation, post-event review and analysis, mental strengthening, self-regulation training, breath control training, motor skill training, mental rehearsal, concentration training, pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building, breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness training, flow training, relaxation training, momentum training, psych-out proofing and media training.

For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot, visit This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture about your mental game.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at

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