Psychology in tennis: why character is a shot without a racquet
Crouched posture, looking down. A quick sip from the water bottle.
Eh everything for the black bin today. Why put on the bench when changing sides? You want to get in the shower as soon as possible. Away from this place of horror that the unknowing call the tennis court.
Back to baseline. Somehow get the last service games over with. One plan: hit every ball at 240 km/h. Then it’s faster. failure or winner.
In the match you sometimes feel like a remote control car. We whiz around the square, we have no control over what we do. Our thoughts race through our heads like a roller coaster.
The psychology of tennis has us in a headlock.
You don’t seem to have any control over your emotions .
Is there a dark force at work here? Or are these normal processes that we have unconsciously trained ourselves over the years?
And, what the hell does your character have to do with your many unnecessary mistakes?
How psychology affects tennis
Sit back and take a sip of the hot coffee.
In this article, we’ll delve into the psychology of tennis and explore why your character is an important element in your game alongside your groundstrokes.
The shot without a racquet.
I picked out three questions for us. We shall discover three answers. And these three answers can make you a better tennis player. Not immediately after reading the article. But in the long term, if you implement your new insights.
Back when I learned the forehand short-cross
It was scorching hot. You could easily have fried a fried egg on the hood.
I stood on the court, which two minutes after watering was drier than Dieter Nuhr’s humor. My coach Tom wanted me to play short balls as a short cross .
Only with my forehand .
I didn’t succeed at first. I played too fast, too out of place and too headless.
“Marco, you’re a quiet little guy who can think. Take the hustle and bustle out of your head and your movements. Stand still when you’re on the ball and hitting the ball! Just like you off the pitch are. Calm, level-headed, turned into yourself.”
Said and done.
Lo and behold. It flopped slowly.
That was my first encounter with the character on the tennis court and how he can influence the way you play, but also your shot decisions.
Let’s look together at why you feel afraid during a match, how to build self-confidence in a healthy way and what characterizes mentally strong players.
Desire? Then come with me.
Reading tip for tennis elbow: The Masalo Cuff
Fear: why you feel it and how it blocks you
We all have a little Da Vinci in us.
We paint pictures of situations in our minds, so detailed and perfect, that we have not yet experienced. There are still rumors as to whether any other creature besides humans swings the thought brush so perfectly.
We look into the head of Sabine, 47 years young, a premier league player with a strong forehand, quick feet and a secure backhand .
Two days before the match:
“What will my husband Paul think if I lose my singles on Saturday? He knows that I’ve already won twice against this opponent. I feel so insecure at the moment and I’m scared that I’ll stand in my own way again on Saturday and the Just shove the ball… crap, I’m already scared!”
A painting of a horror picture.
Do you see the darkness in this picture? The hopelessness? The sheer fear?
What happens in the field of psychology in tennis?
Sabine paints a scenario of the upcoming match. She puts herself under maximum pressure by the possible opinion of her husband, which she cannot know. To do this, she dabs a scene into her picture that she would capitulate to in the match if it becomes reality:
Pushing the ball.
On the day of the match, Sabine stands on the court with pudding in her legs, cramped arms and anxious eyes.
What she cannot perceive because she is trapped in herself:
Things aren’t much better for the lady.
The first service games are going quite well. Sabine wins longer rallies, pushes herself and is able to hide her fear behind a narrow, holey and unlocked cellar door.
But then, seemingly out of nowhere:
The switch flips. Nothing works anymore. The first forehands, which were too short and played with restraint, let the fear shoot out of the narrow, holey cellar door like Michael Myers.
From now on, fear takes the racket in hand. Sabine is just a silent observer of what is happening with her game.
Afterwards she will tell her teammates that there was simply nothing she could do about her insecurity. It just came, this overpowering fear.
But is that true? Did this fear come “out of nowhere”?
The fear has taken on a very clearly defined form in her mind before the match. Sabine has filled her subconscious with all sorts of information. When Sabine found herself in the scene she had previously designed in her head, the subconscious simply played back this information.
A perfectly logical process of the human psyche.
Fear doesn’t arise on the court, during a match. Any form of fear arises in the images you fill your subconscious with before a match. You can better prepare yourself mentally for a match if you go through detailed plays in your head that never end. Neither a winner nor a mistake.
How do you build self-confidence?
You would have laughed if you had seen me.
My first YouTube guitar lesson was a spasm. I couldn’t hold the good piece properly and had previously unknown coordination problems between my right and left hands.
I needed three full hours for the first chord. And then I needed a break.
The next day I went back to my study, grabbed the guitar, opened the YouTube channel – and only managed half of what I had conjured up on the guitar strings the day before.
Five days later, our Mini Australian Shepherd Dexter was already buried in the back corner with his paws on his ears, the breakthrough.
The first melody crept out of the strings. At least I could tell “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica from the sound. Since that day, I have approached every guitar session with confidence, not insecurity.
“Boah Kühn, I want to play confidently like Djokovic in the fifth set, what do I have to do?”.
Calm down, my friend.
Many players set too short a deadline when it comes to self-confidence. Real, healthy self-confidence comes from small, steady steps forward.
These advances may be smaller than an ant.
Just noticing situations in a match can be a step forward. If you’re a damn scared character on the tennis court, then being able to consciously acknowledge that fear is a win for you.
The next step would be for you to accept that fear, that weakness. After that is done, you can start asking your fear how it always makes it onto the pitch.
And then, only then, can you begin replacing the ritual called fear with another ritual. courage, for example. Or confidence.
Or humor. He is neglected anyway, although the great Novak Djokovic shows a grin every now and then even in epic matches.
Psychology in tennis: what characterizes mentally strong players?
Can we get around it if we want to answer this question precisely?
No, we’re not coming.
Novak Djokovic combines the most important skills that a mentally strong player can possess. He is not only a perfectionist when it comes to the dosage of the food rations. His thought and behavior patterns are not left to chance.
Recommended reading: Serve: 18 Timeless Ways to Serve Great (+ 3 Strategies for Better Rates)
I wrote down two answers for this question, which complement each other in terms of their ability:
1) Control of Emotions
2) accepting facts
“How? Accept facts? I can do that, I’m not stupid!”.
No, you can’t fully do that. And that’s not bad either.
So far I haven’t been able to find out why, but:
During a heated match, few players can accept facts easily. Such as:
Tick off minor mistakes
Grant the opponent a great point
Don’t let the opponent’s unsportsmanlike behavior get to you
Accept net rollers, line balls or place errors without emotion
You can see a few lines above that as point numero uno we have control of emotions. This ability, combined with accepting facts, is the accelerator for athletic development.
Why are these tennis skills so important to you?
A tennis match consists of one element:
Psychologically, all you have to do is solve one problem at a time. Your opponent plays high on your backhand? Heck, you have to solve the problem. You always stand wrong to the ball and get too short? Stupid, you have to solve the problem.
Do you have your sockets full, play every shot on your back and make the mistake from the third shot in the rally? Real crap, you have to solve the problem.
Now the blood slide comes from behind:
How do you solve all these problems when you’re emotionally sitting on top of a rodeo bull?
We close the circle:
Novak Djokovic does not play faster, smarter or more spectacular than his opponent in many of his matches. He stays calm and solves one little problem after the other like a robot.
Like a bored CEO ticking off his to-do list.
In the final of the US Open against Daniil Medvedev, that ability stayed in the cabin.
He had robbed himself of his greatest strength.
That means for you:
Controlling your emotions is an important factor in your success. This can be developed through mental training .
Reading tip: 5 mental exercises that will improve your tennis
You have learned in this article how fear arises.
It’s not a mystery that ambushes you during a match like a bank robber. It occurs before your games when you prepare yourself mentally, mostly unconsciously.
You build up a healthy self-confidence by taking small steps. Collect small successes. Be fair to yourself and give yourself time to build confidence. The biggest mistake is putting your head in the sand immediately when something doesn’t work out right away.
Here you need patience, humility and time.
We learned from Novak Djokovic that emotional control is a multi-weapon in tennis. It covers many areas of a match and can show the clear difference between a good player and a very good one.
All of these elements:
3) Control of Emotions
are found in your character.
If you train this (tennis) character in the same way as your basic strokes, you will become a better player in less time.
And stays seated for 90 seconds during the change of sides, takes three large sips from the water bottle and then gets up from the bench with a clear plan for the next return.