Mental Training: Erase Your Tennis Mind And Get The Victory Each Time

Mental Training: Erase Your Tennis Mind And Get The Victory Each Time

by Head Coach

There are two kinds of tennis players…

1) The Recreational Tennis Player: This is the player that breaks out his racket simply because it’s something fun to do with the buddies and to have a good time or because the doctor said they need more exercise.

2) The Ultimate Competitor: This is the player or athlete who will do whatever it takes to get the win – the one who puts in hours and hours of intense training everyday (…giving his 110%), eats all the right stuff, scouts out his opponents before match time, and plays every point like it’s his last; so he can kick the butts of his opponents on a consistent basis.

Which one are you?

Now, don’t worry, neither of these are wrong or even ideal. It’s a personal choice. But since you’re reading this post, I can make a pretty good assumption that you fall into the second group.

And if my assumption is correct, that’s great! I love it when a player really puts their all into achieving a personal goal – and even more so when they actually achieve it.

The feeling of accomplishment is incredible, especially after you’ve put so much into it.  Oh, and it’s always a lot more fun when you’re royally kicking tail too!

But you have to be careful. Why? Because though having a strong will to win is a great thing, if you let that urge get too out of control, it can become toxic to your chances of getting the victory. What do I mean?

You see, too many competitive or serious athletes unconsciously take things a little too far sometimes.  They expect to do no wrong and make no mistakes, when they go out to battle.

They feel that since they put in tons of time, effort, and hard work, they should be rewarded by playing a perfect match every time they step onto the court (…or at least close to it). Sound familiar?

Then when it doesn’t happen (…and they do mess one up), those players get all out of wack. Why? Because when we U.C players produce an error, a lot of times we think it’s because we’re underachieving or aren’t working hard enough.

And when you’re an “Ultimate Competitor” kind of player, that really stings! It’s like a spear right through the heart.

So with that said, this is where the U.Cs problem starts to manifest itself.  In many cases, the greater our desire is to win, the stronger our memory becomes.

When we make an error (…even if it’s just 1) we end up holding on to that one point or that one error for too long.  It’s like we’re holding a grudge against ourselves,  finding it extremely hard to let go.

We keep saying to ourselves, “Why did I miss that?” or “That was so easy….” or “Maybe the other guy, but not me!”

And that feeling of regret or failure can stick with us in following games and show up in later points and games, causing our once stellar performance to take an incredible nose-dive. Your technique goes south and your strategy or game plan is all but forgotten.

Oh yes, the failure to clear your mind of that one point or one mistake is a mental training error that can prove to be very costly.

It can, and often times, completely ruins your chances at a  great win.  It’ll be almost leech-like sucking all the positive energy, attitude, and body language right out of you.

And it doesn’t matter how great your strokes are. If your mind isn’t in it, it’s going to be an obstacle next to impossible to overcome.

Mental Training: Transcending Throughout The Sports World

We saw it in the meltdown of Andy Roddick back in 2001 against Lleyton Hewitt. And just this past Sunday (…which is one of the main reasons I decided foam1oyf 1 Mental Training: Erase Your Tennis Mind And Get The Victory Each Timeto bring this up), we saw and heard a prime example of this concept during the Chargers (…my favorite team) vs Jaguars game.

Towards the beginning, Charger’s Ryan Mathews, one of the most talented and hardest-working running backs in the NFL, was having a great game.  But later on, he fumbled the football. Oops! That’s right, he made an error!

But instead of shrugging it off, and getting ready for the next down mentally fresh, he unfortunately allowed his fumble in Monday night’s opener to put a major dent in his performance for the remainder of the contest.

“After that play, everything went downhill.  The problem was that I wasn’t running smart. I ignored my instincts and went away from everything I’ve been doing over the past few months.” “I’m trying a little too hard to be perfect.”  “I didn’t respond well when something went wrong.”- said Matthews.

Before the second-quarter fumble, Mathews averaged a commendable  4.8 yards per carry. But after his mistake, his performance suffered a major drop off by almost 2 whole yards, decreasing to only 3.0 per carry. For non-football fans, that’s a BIG difference!

So, take Ryan’s words and experience and learn from them.  Incorporate them in to your game beforehand so you can avoid this happening to you, and so you’re not singing your shoulda, coulda, wouldas afterward.

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But that’s not all… Ryan isn’t the only one with some words of wisdom for you here 8-).

The next time you feel like you’re on a roll in one of your matches, and you mis-read a ball, accidentally shank a kill-volley into the stands, or somehow allow your opponent to best you on a couple of points, give the three things I’ve listed below a try as well.

Mental Training: 3 Keys To Great Ways Enhance Your “Inside” Game:

Mental Training Tactic #1: Understand That No Player Is Perfect (…including you)

Aspiring to achieve perfection is fine.  But “EXPECTING” perfection is an unrealistic concept.  It’s pure fantasy. And expecting to attain it 100% of the time, will drive you wildly insane .  And before you say it, nope, it has nothing to do with skill.

It has everything to do with reality.  It doesn’t matter if you’re Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, or Roger Federer. Honest mistakes are and will be made. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth.

You MUST realize that you’re going to miss one or two (…at least).   Once you shift your mindset (…and cease to play in the fictional or fantasy world), you’ll be much better equipped to get yourself back on track when you do make an error and will avoid setting yourself back even further.

Mental Training Tactic #2: Erase Your Memory (Operation Amnesia):

Later on in the press conference RB Ryan Matthews gave out some more valuable advice in saying, “I have come up with a bad case of amnesia. When a bad play happens or I make a mistake, I have to let it go right away.”

…And he’s absolutely right!

If you make an error like a double fault or botch up an overhead smash, it’ll be tough (…because your competitive fire runs so deep), but you just have to let it go and erase it from your memory.

Each point has it’s own dynamics (…strokes, positioning, court coverage, footwork, weakness exploitation, weakness protection techniques etc). You don’t want to think about all of that, TIMES 2.

Not only will you be further out of wack mentally, you’ll be forced to reach for your bag to grab a extra strength Tylenol soon enough. Why? Because you’ll  have given yourself a major headache from thinking too much. Trust me!

So, once that point is over, you must activate “operation amnesia”. Forgive yourself and Forget about it. Why? If you hold on to it, you’ll be distracted and it’ll eventually consume you.  And we never do anything well when we’re distracted.  That’s why it’s illegal to text while driving icon wink Mental Training: Erase Your Tennis Mind And Get The Victory Each Time .

You’ll be playing your B game (…an inferior game plan)  against your opponent’s A game. That’s not good and can potentially cost you the match every time. Because you have even more fish to fry.

The match is not going to stop or slowdown because you’re having a “moment.” If anything, it’ll get even harder, because your opponent will notice that you’ve begun to unravel.  And once he smells blood and sees that you’re wounded…

It’s just like if you were out in the wild, he’ll bare his teeth and get even more aggressive – forcing you to deal with even heavier firepower.

Alright, so while playing a match, you want to play “IN THE MOMENT.” Anything outside that single point that’s live is none of your concern. Period!

Mental Training Tactic #3: Take a Breathe Brake:

If you sense yourself getting upset behind a mistake, mis-read or miscalculation, don’t attempt to go right back into the thick of the action (…or the heat of the fire) immediately after the mistake is made. Why? For two reasons:

1) Because once you create that error, chances are your tennis mind has immediately transferred to a negative state. Whether it’s from the rise in the levels of pressure, anxiety and bad adrenaline or the tightening or over-clenching of your hand on the racket, your mental engine won’t be running on all cylinders yet.

You need some time to bring things back to center (…both mentally and biologically) before you continue.

2) This will provide you with a brief moment to analyze what you did wrong, so you can correct it and minimize any further damage. If you rush right into it, history will just repeat itself.

So, take a couple of long deep breaths and allow yourself to get your mind and body centered once again. The longer and deeper the breaths, the more you’re going to get out of it.

Tennis Mental Training Video Version Below:

Now, you want to do this asap, before your anxiety shoots through the roof. Because once it blows, it’s very difficult to bring back down. It may take a lot longer that you think.

And hey, don’t say “Ehh” that just sounds like nerdy mumbo-jumbo….. I breath all the time…. even when I’m not playing.”  You’ll be surprised exactly how powerful breathing can be.  Your breathing is one of the most vital core components that enables you to win and play at a high level.

In fact, I actually talk about a very special type of breathing (…in great detail) that can get you focused in 50% of the time of any other breathing style and will have an incredibly positive impact on your game.  Click here to check it out.

Alright guys, let me know if this tennis tip of the week made sense to you. Apply this type of tennis training to your next match, and you should definitely notice a difference.  And remember, forrrgeeet about it!

All the best,
Brian Hall

P.S. Thanks to all of your who wrote me during my stay at the US Open this year. I had a wonderful time, and the action as awesome as always!

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