Stress in tennis

Tennis tournament is a real test for all participants. It doesn’t matter how well you play during daily practice sessions because if you can’t show similar level while competing you won’t progress as a tennis player. Unfortunately many players get frustrated because when they play against the rival they play significantly below their expected level. The reason why it happens is related to stress.


All individual sports put all the responsibility on one player. Whether player hits perfect winner or makes terrible mistake all eyes are put on him. There is no possibility to blame someone else or to hide behind someone’s back. Tennis teaches responsibility but it also shows that if you want to achieve great results you have to learn how to deal with internal and external pressure.


Right before the match tennis players feel pressure and it increases more when they get on the court. There are many reasons why it happens. Responsibility for own actions is one of them. Others’ opinion is another important area for human beings. Points or money is also a factor that adds some pressure too. Even the best players in the world feel uncomfortable when they start the match because stress affects them in the same manner as it affects juniors or recreational players. The only difference is that they have proven techniques that let them decrease detrimental level of pressure and keep it at the level that allows them to perform at their best.


If you think that with experience you won’t feel stressed during the match you are not right. Stress always will be present during competition so it is better to prepare for this situation rather than try to avoid it. You have control over your thoughts and actions so incorporating specific steps will help you to control the stress level and make pressure your friend – not your enemy. Below you can find what top players do to take care of stress and play at the highest possible level:


  • Have plan

Players who have no plan feels significantly more pressure than the ones who know what they want to play. Competitive player should always prepare plan based on own and opponent’s skills. By doing that player knows what to expect so he doesn’t have to react and make quick decisions every time the ball crosses the net. Plan means preparation and preparation means readiness. Ready players are not afraid of the future because they are ready!


  • Go through routines

Rafa Nadal is the best example of player who respects the most the power of routines in tennis. Every time he serves or returns he performs own specific routines. Even after leaving the bench he has to make sure that all the bottles are placed in the right spots. These little activities give him proper focus as also the feeling of having control over the actions. That is why all players should develop own routines to make sure that they use time between the points optimally to prepare for the next point.


  • Stay active

When players get stressed their body tend to work less effectively. Lack of split-step, slow reaction and improper positioning to the ball are just few visible factors that we can observe among players especially at the beginning of the match. To counter this negative behavior players should stay active during the point as also they can perform simple activities between the points to „wake-up” the body. After few minutes of constant movement it is guaranteed that body of the player will work in the way player wants it to work.


  • Breath consciously

Shallow breathing is another reaction to pressure. Players inhale and exhale really quickly, make easy mistakes and get stressed even more. To prevent this situation players should consciously take care of own breathing. Inhale phase and exhale phase have to be performed slowly so player can maintain proper state and play well at the beginning of the match as also during the crucial points.


  • Control what you can control

Individual sport puts a lot of pressure on mental side. Tennis players have to understand that and they should start to work on abilities that will let them perform well during competition. Many players are not able to control stress level because they focus on things that they can’t control. Weather’s conditions, fans reactions or opponent’s style of play are factors that players can’t control. It is more effective to direct own thoughts towards analysis of the previous point, plan for the next point or finding solutions to the obstacles that happen on the court. Thoughts have big impact on body performance so when player maintains proper mindset the body will also help him achieve good performance.


There is no tennis without stress. Players have to accept this fact and understand that stress is not a bad thing – its level can be. That is why players have to firstly recognize own level of stress and then consciously work with learned techniques to keep it at the level that allow them for maximal performance.