Taking care of negative voice

Mental preparation is getting more and more appreciated by coaches and parents around the world. We can see more tennis teams cooperating with psychologists as also it is not surprising to see coaches who incorporate mental skills into on-court practice sessions. This area is still way behind the technical aspect but definitely process of developing mentally strong athletes started to accelerate. One of the most common problems that players at all levels struggle with is an internal negative voice.

 

            Game of tennis puts a lot of pressure on the players. This long and lonely journey demands really strong mindset to be able to get to the top of own abilities. Even if we possess great technical, tactical, and physical skills it is impossible to achieve own potential if all these things are not supported by an unbreakable mind. Mental skills help us go through tough times and as we know tennis career has many ups and downs so we have to learn specific techniques to make sure that we can count on our internal skills as well as on forehand in the final set.

 

            Junior tennis players need a lot of work on this aspect because they are still shaping own character. It is much more difficult for adult players to change things that they were doing for 15-20  years than for younger athletes who have experience of only few seasons of negative habits. Many players believe mistakenly that they overall performance is dependent solely on their tennis performance but unfortunately the truth is that mental abilities have much more influence on our game than particular strokes. Great players combine these areas so that is why it is so hard to beat them because they don’t have visible weaknesses in their internal and external skills. Fortunately most of us don’t compete against Federer or Williams on a daily basis so we can be sure that if we will combat negative mental habits we will have a much easier job to leave the court as a winner.

 

            Negative voices occur in players’ heads because of many reasons. Sometimes it happens because they are in a bad mood, the other time it happens because players hear negative feedback all the time from their coaches. There can be hundreds of other reasons but we should focus more on solutions because only specific techniques will get our game to the A level. As with any weakness we can improve this aspect by consciously working on it during practice sessions as also when the pressure is on during competition. We always have a choice if we want to act and think negatively or if we want to struggle a little bit and get better. If you would like to do the second keep reading the next lines where you will find simple solutions to deal with negative voices forever.

 

Conscious process

It doesn’t matter how much knowledge players have or how perfect techniques they possess because if they don’t understand the purpose of changes it is never going to work well. Players have to know why they are doing the new activities as also they have to believe in the final results of these actions. That is why it is of utmost importance to educate our players on and off the court about the benefits that are hidden behind mental skills. If we show our players every time they are positive that it helps them it will be easier to stop negative thinking in the future.

 

Look for positives

In all situations we can find positive and negative details. Of course it is much easier to point negative ones but the easiest way is not always the best one. Players who are ambitious would like to play perfect tennis every time they are on the court so the internal negative voice happens because they are not able to meet these expectations. Players have to see what they do and be aware of good things to achieve own potential. If you lose the match it is easy to complain about your weak backhand or opponent’s lucky winner in crucial point of the final set but this approach won’t make you closer to your dreams. Look for positive experiences and respect them because this is how you can motivate yourself even when the scores are against you. I can tell you one thing: even if you hit every ball outside the court you can always find some positive things! Did you bend your knees? If yes that is a positive. Did you focus? If yes that’s great you got better. Look for positives and don’t waste time on negative thinking because I bet you wouldn’t like to have someone next to you saying the negative words constantly as you do!

 

Pick the right way – not the comfortable one

There is one rule that happens to be true for athletes at all ages. It says: „If something is comfortable probably it is not the best option for you”. If you want to grow and become the next top player you have to cross the line of your comfort zone. Only by taking this approach you are able to uncover your hidden skills. Are you afraid of hitting a forehand inside out when saving a break point? Get out of comfort zone and try it. Do you prefer drinking coke to drinking water during tournaments? I know it is not easy and as tasty but pick the second option. Every time you have to make decision if you want to take an easy and comfortable way or you maybe want to try something that demands more effort from your mental skills. The career is in your hand – you can be proud of your actions in the future or you can regret them!

 

Tennis is a game of mistakes. When you are younger or less advanced you will make a lot of mistakes. Progressing with your age and development you will be more solid tennis player but you will also still make some mistakes. You have to accept it and learn how to deal positively with situations that many people perceive as the pitfalls. Tennis is a beautiful sport so be positive and play your best tennis every day! And if it doesn’t happen at least stay positive 🙂