How can I improve my mental game?
Here are Forzoni’s and Lane’s top five tennis psychology tips:
- Work on your self-confidence
‘Tennis players need to introspect, and call on inner reserves to maintain self-confidence during a game,’ says Andy Lane. ‘Studies have shown that winning tennis players report high levels of self-confidence and low anxiety, are able to control emotions before competition and can use adaptive coping skills.’
- Develop performance routines
‘The brain and memory are very complex,’ says Lane. ‘Sometimes we find it difficult to remove negative thoughts in situations that require us to be positive. When I work with athletes, I try to encourage them to record as many positive features from their training and competition as possible. For example, where tennis players have had a very good session practicing serves, it is important that they recall as much information from that practice session as soon as possible.’
- Accept you won’t always play at your best
‘Not even the game’s most successful players play at their best level in all of their matches,’ says Roberto Forzoni. ‘Let’s say a player competes in 20 matches. The player may view two of those as great while two might be seen as not very good. It is how they perform in the other 16 matches that’s likely to determine their level of success – so have that in mind for 80% of the matches you play.’
- There’s no such thing as ‘having a bad day’
Never speak in terms of ‘having a bad day’ as this gives you an excuse to continue having a bad day, according to Forzoni. Making excuses beforehand is a form of ‘self-handicapping behaviour’, which stops you changing the situation.
- Be comfortable being uncomfortable
This attitude ‘epitomises the journey in sport,’ says Forzoni. Being uncomfortable is part of playing sports ‘so learn to be comfortable with it.’