• Mani Barajas

Mental Toughness in Tennis


Ask any tennis pro and they will agree that the mental component can account for as much as 90% of the game. It takes significant mental toughness to start and finish a match strong. Tennis players can gain a competitive edge by being able to bounce back from a missed shot or sloppy serve. They can handle a distracting crowd watching the match, ignore poor weather conditions, and block any feelings of intimidation from a tough opponent. But how do you get there? These skills come naturally for some but they can also be learned through practice!

3 Mental Toughness Skills to Practice Today 1. Get Your Game Face On Decide before you walk out onto the tennis court that your body language says you are happy, alert, energetic and ready to play! Even if there are butterflies in your stomach or your palms are sweating, you can trick your mind into confidence by focusing on maintaining positive facial expressions, good posture, and fantastic energy! Tennis is fun and you are a great player, let this show!

Repeat this checklist in your head for a great start!

  • Standing straight

  • Shoulders squared

  • Head Up

  • Smile On!

2. Focus! It is easy to lose focus or get distracted when your opponent has the ball and you are waiting to return serve. Many players find success repeating three phrases in their head to help them stay focused.

  • As your opponent tosses the ball, say a long, drawn out baaaaaallll in your head to prepare yourself

  • When your opponent hits the serve, say “hit” to yourself, followed by bounce

  • As you prepare to swing, say “hit” to yourself again.

Try out these phrases for yourself to see if they help you stay focused during a match! All of these words may take too much mental energy but you may find a certain one that helps you keep your attention where it needs to be.

3. Play with a Never Give Up Mentality Many players lose a tennis match because they have secretly given up at some point in the match. It does not matter how many points you have given up or what mistakes you have made; keep playing until the last point. If you admit defeat early, your negative attitude will most definitely cloud your judgement and affect your tennis game. Every opponent you face will bring a different and new challenge, rise to meet that challenge no matter how tough!

Practice your Never Give Up Mentality

  • If your opponent is winning, analyze “what is their strategy” and alter your play accordingly.

  • Don’t let your opponent stay in their comfort zone. If they seem like they are staying stationary, try hitting short balls near the net to see if they can volley.

  • Keeping your mind on how the game is going and how you can improve will keep your mind off giving up!

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