Discover how arousal levels and self-talk can affect you. Learn to embrace the challenges that you experience on the tennis court. Set your mindset right and achieve your potential.
Coach: Aleks Szymanski, Founder of Tennisletics, and Certified Mental Coach.
Bio: Founder of Tennisletics and tennis fanatic. Started work life as a military and search and rescue helicopter pilot. Spent the past two decades founding and nurturing fast-growing technology businesses across the globe. Competed at high-level squash, judo, and rugby. Certified Mental Coach.
Residency: Austin, TX, USA
Length: 3 min 19 sec
Distractions are the enemy of focus, and there's no shortage of them on the tennis court.
As tennis players, we need to get our 'arousal levels' up to play at our best. The problem is, the more alert our brains are, the more the left-hand logical side of our brains loves to notice everything around us, which directly interferes with our natural ability.
Then comes what psychologists call our 'internal monologue' or 'self-talk', which can easily overwhelm us and restrict the way we play. Do you recognize any of these self-talk conversations? "Wow, it's really windy today, I hate playing in the wind". Or, "I don't like this club. There's no barriers between the courts". Or "those spectators ever going stop talking? They're not even watching the game". Or "are they going to check every ball every time before serving?". "My opponent seems super quiet. Have I offended them already?"
The reality is you can't control the weather, the court, your surroundings, or what others do. But you can control what you do as a player and be better prepared for these distractions. So don't complain about the weather. Instead, learn to embrace the challenge of playing in the wind. Go out on windy days to activate your feet and fixate on the ball. You'll be surprised how much that 'mindset' helps you play on calm days. Another tip is to get acclimatized early and start to become 'comfortable' with the surroundings to a point where they are less of a distraction.
When it comes to your opponent, then unless they're playing outside the rules, there's little you can directly affect. Maybe they're constantly checking the balls and being quiet because they're nervous and they're worried about playing you.
Tennis can be brutal and staying focused for many hours on the court is tough. Distractions are everywhere on a tennis court. They are your enemy. Learn to manage the self-talk so you can concentrate on achieving your potential.