Sports like soccer, football, and basketball are very physical; there are many people on the field, the games are quick, and the crowd’s attention is divided amongst all the players.
Tennis courts are much quieter. Unless you’re watching a doubles game, everyone’s eyes are on just two people. The players’ eyes are glued to the ball as it goes from one side of the court to the other.
Unlike other sports, there’s a mental side to tennis that many amateurs tend to ignore. Tennis requires immense concentration; even a little slip in attention can cost you the game.
Performance psychologists who work with top players have mastered the art of converting anger into mental focus.
Here are some mind tricks seasoned tennis players use in their games:
Respond Positively to Every Mistake, Mishap, and Missed Opportunity
It’s natural to respond negatively to anger; the only problem is that we end up doing things we regret when we do, which triggers a perpetual negative state and weakens concentration.
Performance psychologists urge tennis players to respond positively to every mistake, mishap, and missed opportunity in the game.
Whether you’re watching Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, or Roger Federer play, you’ll notice they immediately turn back when they make a mistake and are ready to play again.
Mistakes happen, accept them, learn from them, and move on. In tennis, you have to learn and let go within a matter of seconds; there’s no time to sulk.
Enter a Relaxed State
Our mind and body work best when they have time to relax. There’s a lot on the line in pro-tennis matches, but even then, players have to take the time to take breaks and relax.
Mental coaches tell tennis players to look at their racquet’s strings during breaks to give their head some time to reset. Looking at the strings of the racquet stops the players from looking at their opponents and the thousands of people in the crowd who could end up triggering another kind of emotional state.
It also helps to hold the racquet in the non-dominating hand for a bit to relax your strong arm.
Perform Your Ritual
Many sportspeople and performance arts develop rituals that help them focus before games and performances. The rituals allow them to block out the crowd and focus on the task at hand.
The ritual should help the players gain momentum and maintain energy levels during the game.
As with other sports, practice makes perfect; the more time you get on the tennis court with an experienced tennis coach, the better you’ll get.