3 Useful Mentality Hacks From Tennis Pros
Like most professional athletes, Tennis Players have to be mentally tough and incredibly positive. They have to maintain a good state of mind for several hours, without getting angry at a stupid mistake that cost them the set. They can’t show their opponent any weakness, because this show him that he’s doing something right and makes him even better.
Especially in close matches, mentality is easily as important as your actual skill. That is why we admire players like Roger Federer, who seemingly never gets upset and has his feelings under control.
Being in full control of emotions, staying positive and not showing any weakness are key assets of a professional tennis player. Those are skills we should adopt and can make use of in everyday life. Read on and learn some tricks from the best.
1. Move on Quickly
Tennis players rarely have pauses for longer than two minutes. They only have a short amount of time to realize and analyze mistakes, adjust their tactics and react accordingly. The problem or mistake is analyzed and the play-style gets adjusted so it hopefully won’t occur again. And afterwards they move on quickly and look forward. The match goes on, there is just no time to mourn past mistakes and overthink it.
This thinking of moving on quickly is useful for our everyday lifes as well. There is just no use in thinking about problems and mistakes longer than necessary. If you can change something about it, then adjust your tactic accordingly until it does not occur anymore.
If there is nothing you can change, it is even less use to think about it. Learn from your mistakes, avoid them in the future. Any more thinking is counterproductive, bringing up the past won’t change it. Over-analyzing everything brings you down and makes you focus on the negative instead of looking forward and improving your future.
2. Develop Counter-Actions
If you watch tennis often and look closely, you will have surely seen some bitter and easy to avoid mistakes. And if you keep looking closely you will see something pretty much all of them do right after such a silly mistake:
They either look up. look at their feet, close their eyes, cover their face with their hands or just breathe deeply.
These are “counter-actions”, actions that keep you from doing the one thing that would be considered normal: Get angry, shout and flip out. Maybe even throw the racket. But they also know that the usual reaction is bad for them and their game. Losing it on the court gets you into a negative state and shows your opponent he is on the right way to win the match.
And still it is very hard not to react this way, it is normal for us because we saw everyone around us do it all our life, so we learned from our surroundings and adopted the same behavior. That does not mean reacting in such a way is “natural” or any good, it is just difficult to unlearn this bad habit.
Suppressing these urges is difficult but possible, and “counter-actions” make it a lot more manageable. Instead of getting loud and angry, try looking at your feet and breathing deeply. Reacting negatively does not change the situation for the better and gets you in a bad mood.
Train these counter-actions long enough and they become good habits.
Tennis Players are notoriously known for their rituals. They tap the ball a certain amount of times before serving, adjust their clothing a certain way or have a special drink. Nadal even points the etiquette of his water bottles a certain way every time.
Rituals might seem weird and superstitious to outsiders. And sure, a lot of it surely is superstition and make-believe, but there definitely is some practicality to it.
Rituals are something you consistently do every time, the exact same way. It is kind of like brushing your teeth? Are you scared of brushing your teeth, or nervous while doing it?
Sure not, because it is completely normal and usual to you. It is the same way with rituals, they are consistent, they are normal to you and give you mental security. Tennis matches are different each time; Different opponent, different conditions and each point is a new challenge.
Having something you do the exact same way every match provides structure and security, as well as easing your nervousness.
Having some rituals in your life can give structure to things you are not familiar and confident with and make you less scared.
Things like eating and drinking the same things before important meetings and interviews, listening to a special genre or song before tests. Those habits seem weird, but most people have them and there is a good reason for it. Try making certain rituals and see how it works out for yourself.