Tennis, Mental Health
The Main Reason Why You Lose Tennis Matches
Billie Jean King said, "the game of tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquillity." A typical game consists of hundreds of tiny moments of chaotic gameplay. A standard men's match consists of about 151 points, with both players trying to win the majority of points against the other.
The key to winning more points and maintaining peak performance in every game is a winning mindset. For every athlete, this is just as important as your physical training. Your mental attitude will determine how you interpret the ongoing chaos in a game and respond to situations correctly to win more often.
It is impossible to gain mastery or truly enjoy playing tennis (or any game for that matter) if you are not giving attention to the inner mental game. This is a relatively neglected skill but one of the essential skills to winning.
In tennis, a match is won not just on the court but also in the players' minds. You are not just competing against the serves, strokes, and shots of your opponent. You are also playing against obstacles like loss of concentration, self-doubt, nervousness, self-judgment, and other mental pressures. In short, winning a match is more about overcoming these mental obstacles.
But isn't physical training all you need to become a good player? Why is the mind so important in a game where the best players are expected to be fit and skilful?
The answer to that question can be seen in a match between two equally matched competitors at the same skill or fitness level. In such cases, the winner of the game will most likely be the player with the greater mental strength to overcome the various mental obstacles in the game.
Players with a winning mindset will always have the edge over their opponents. They are likely to make better split-second decisions and respond in a far more calculated way to the many actions throughout the match.
Generally, there are two classes of tennis players. There are those with a winning mindset and those with a losing mindset. Every player that gets on the court will belong to either of these two groups.
Players with a winning mindset have developed their ability to focus more on winning points and delivering the right shot every time to a level where they don't have to force on it anymore. Players like this don't bother about losing points. They are more likely to play more frequently in an ultimate performance state.
Having a winning mindset means you can focus your attention on winning, one point at a time. Your mind does not wander off towards negative thoughts about what would happen if you miss a serve or lose the next point. Tennis players with a positive mindset strive more for success and are focused on what they intend to achieve.
On the other end of the spectrum are the players with a negative or losing mindset. Such players worry more about "what ifs" and the many things that could go wrong throughout the game. They worry about losing the next point, not hitting the ball right, getting a bad shot, and so on. A player with a losing mindset is more worried about avoiding failure than actually trying to win the game. They are bothered about what will happen and end up doubting at critical stages of the match.
The truth is you cannot win matches with a losing mindset. Maybe you'll get lucky and win a few matches once in a while. But to consistently win games, you will need a winning mindset. Since the human mind is naturally more disposed to negativity, it means part of your most basic tennis training should include re-training your mind. Once you do this, you will notice that you become much better at producing successful results in your game and ultimately win matches more frequently.
In my next blog we will go through the characteristics of a winning mindset. Until next time.
Keep enjoying your tennis.