You’ve seen it before. A game seems all but set, one player having a healthy lead over the other. You can almost tell everyone watching has resigned themselves to the inevitability of the game’s outcome. Some aren’t even watching anymore. But then it happens. The losing side scores a point, then another. And another.

And suddenly, there’s excitement in the air as the game takes an unexpected turn. The two players battle it out to the bitter end and everyone is on the edge of their seat. And at the end, the perceived loser is victorious.  “What made the difference?”, you might wonder. You could analyze their game and pull out video segments of the key plays, but at the end of the day it all boils down to one word: resilience. The winner kept their head in the game.

5 Keys to Tennis Mental Toughness

25 seconds.  That’s less than half a minute. And it’s all you have to keep your head in the game between points.  Resilience isn’t about being perfect. It’s about bouncing back. It’s about making mistakes and failing, but never giving up. If you want to play tennis competitively, resilience is essential. How’s your mental game? Consider the following 5 tips to increase your resilience on the court:

Train your thinking

Win or lose, you’re in it 100% through the last point. If you’re going to win, win with all you have. If you’re going to lose, lose fighting to win with all you have. You never know when a game will turn around. You will never know if THIS game will turn around unless you keep your head in the game to the very end. To do this, you also need to accept how you feel in any given moment, and then let go. Never ever ever quit.

Embrace struggle

All the greatest athletes overcome incredible struggle to get there. The difference between them and everyone else is they see the struggles, mistakes, and failures as opportunities to learn and grow and improve their game. They learn to stick to their plan and training, even when they struggle. Remember, it’s not about being perfect, but bouncing back. You bounce back by understand what went wrong and doing it again, better.

Make good use of time

When you’re on the court, every second counts. How are you using those 25 seconds between points?  It’s not a lot of time, so you can’t really afford to dwell on mistakes. The best players move past feelings to problem solving. They quickly analyze what just happened and look for ways to improve their situation. Between points, between games, sets, and matches, you’re constantly analyzing your game and looking for opportunities to make it better. That is the difference between a good player and one of the greats.

Know your reason

Sometimes even with the best training and best execution, things will go wrong. Sometimes your emotions will get the best of you and you’ll feel like giving up. In those moments, it’s important to know your reason to fight to the end. Why are you competing? What drives you? Spend some time to figure out what your motivation is, because you’ll need to lean on it in those moments. You’ll need to keep it in front of you and remind yourself of it often.

Lean on others

At the end of the day, we all need the support of others to achieve our goals. The harder the task, the more we need other people pulling for us. Don’t try to go it alone. Lean on those around you- your coach, friends, and family. Somewhere along the way, you may need them to carry you. Pick people who will shower you with optimism and belief, who will encourage you and enhance your belief in yourself. Protect your mental game by surrounding yourself with people who will uplift you and never tear you down.

Resilience is a Mental Discipline

Your mental training is just as important as all the hours of athletic training you put yourself through on the court. Resilience is a discipline you can learn and grow in. It’s a mental attitude and outlook. Keep your head in the game with this guide to tennis mental toughness. Remember, it’s the journey that makes you a champion.

Giammalva Racquet Club is your Spring area resource for competitive and recreational tennis. Contact Us for more elite player tips or for competitive or recreational lessons and training.