Top 5 Mental Training Exercises for Tennis

October 19th, 2012 by Do It Tennis

filed in Tennis Lifestyle

tennis training

Training for any sport including tennis is as much about mental training as it is about physical training. When you need to physically perform at your peak, it is best to be completely focused on the game. Any emotions, distractions or lingering thoughts can quickly turn to anger and frustration. These negative emotions, if unchecked, can have a negative impact on your performance. Fortunately, there are a great number of mental exercises that tennis players can perform to help prepare them for the mental aspect of the game.

Here are the top five exercises if you are mentally training to become a better tennis player:

Anger Management
Anger is one of the least desirable emotions that can take control of you while you are out there on the court. Not only does it cloud your thinking processes, but it can also make you tense up during play. Practice letting go. If you make a mistake while playing tennis, acknowledge the mistake and then let it go because there is nothing you can do about what is past. Remain positive, but if you can’t do that simply on willpower, then practice your breathing during pauses in the match. Draw in a breath slowly to slow your heart rate and bring your nerves under control. Repeat until you feel you are in control once more and ready to get back into the game.

Error management
Although overthinking matters during a tennis match will cause you to hesitate and trip up, underthinking is also a serious problem that needs to be addressed. You need to be paying attention to your opponent, noticing habits, picking out patterns, and making observations about how your opponent responds to particular strategies on your part. Similarly, you need to be paying attention to your mental state, what you are doing when you score, and what you are doing when you mess up. You shouldn’t let this process consume you during actual playtime, but in between action is a good time to both analyze your game and make any changes that you feel are needed.

Game Journals
After you’ve finished playing your match or simply have some spare time to spend, write down your thoughts about the game on a notepad or something similar. Note what has been working for you during the game and what hasn’t been working. Similarly, make a note of your strengths and weaknesses being exhibited in the match. These notes will give you a solid foundation for planning your future training and game strategies.

Goal Setting
Creating and meeting goals is an important part of growing as a tennis player and keeping up your motivation to do so. As such, you should set a mixture of short-term, performance-oriented goals and long-term, outcome-oriented goals. Goals based on performance are focused on things such as achieving a certain percentage of backhand strokes or remaining constantly moving on your feet. Meeting these short-term goals will help provide you with the motivation to achieve outcome-oriented goals since as achieving certain placements in tournaments.

Visualization is the practice of remembering and reviewing positive mental images to replicate those feats in the course of actual play. It is intended both as a form of positive thinking and as a method for duplicating the things that you did right in previous games. If you ever feel that you’ve done something right during actual play, remember it so that you bring it back up for review later for visualization training.

Guest post contributed by Charles Smith for HowLongSinceABritWonWimbledon.com. Charles is a freelance sports writer with a penchant for all things tennis. His articles appear on various online sports publications.
Photo credit: Flicker User Paulo L. Dores