The are several different strategies that can help you keep your cool on the tennis court. They involve mental training habits and routines that work.
Coach: Kendall Brooks, head tennis coach
Bio: Former head women’s tennis coach for the St. Edward’s in Austin, Texas for six straight seasons. In 2018, brought Hilltoppers to their highest national ranking in school history at #17 and was named the Wilson ITA South Central Coach of the year. They would finish their 22-6 record-breaking season as Heartland Conference runner-up, earning their 3rd NCAA Tournament berth, and close the year ranked 22nd in the country. Four-year letter winner for Texas Tech Red Raiders, with career singles record of 61-58 and 41-17 in doubles. Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science.
Length: 2 min 54 sec
Other tracks by Kendall Brooks: Confidence Issues, Doubles Chemistry, Choosing Your Doubles Partner, Post-Match Analysis, Playing When You Are Exhausted, Maintain Your Cool.
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There are several different strategies to maintaining your cool on the tennis court. But almost all of them involve good mental training habits and routines. Having a routine is probably the most effective way to use your mental skills during a match. Routines are a series of behaviors or thoughts that a player goes through, typically in between points and on changeovers, in order to be fully prepared to play the next point. Because you are performing these tasks consistently, they start to train the brain to condition a certain response. I encourage players to come up with their own routine, but I think the basis of them should involve the following.
RESPOND. Have some sort of response to the point. Ideally, this would be a positive or neutral response, like a fist pump, or yelling "Come on", and then let it go by turning around and walking away or towards the fence.
Then RELAX. Take deep breaths and slow your heart rate while quieting your mind. You can do this while using your towel, gathering the balls or looking at your strings.
Next, REFOCUS. Make a plan for the next point and commit to being in the present.
Then get READY. Step up to the line only when you are completely ready to play. Bounce your feet to get your energy back up. Doing these things habitually in between every point helps you to control the pace of play, and to keep you focused and in the moment. A lot of times players lose control emotionally after a point and let that negative emotion from one bad point dictate the next two or three points as well. Speeding up play instead of slowing it down. By having your routine in place, you can regain control before the negative momentum takes over. And momentum in tennis is huge and can change very quickly.
These strategies help control not only your temper but also times when you're getting too 'amped' as well as managing your nerves. Changeovers are another great time to practice your mental skills. Have a routine and something to focus on. Whether that be a match card with strategy, or even closing your eyes and visualizing the next point or game.
Sit, rest, hydrate, and recover. Nothing pains me more than to see an angry emotional player switch sides without stopping or sitting. To me, that shows that they have not let go of what has happened and also shows their opponent that they have the momentum. You would never see the best mentally tough players in the world do this. If you want to be the best you have to be disciplined and that includes being able to control your emotions and mentally staying on top.