Mental Tennis: The Tennis Players Mind Can Be Their Deadliest Enemy

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by Head Coach

You have to be a mental tennis player if you want to win matches like crazy and truly enjoy this sport that you love so much.  But you what… You’ve got to watch out for one very important thing… Excuses! Excuses are one of tennis players’ worst enemies.

Yes, though mindless, bodiless and emotionless, these elements are some of the deadliest poisons you can expose your game to. And what’s worse, it’s all self inflicting. Here’s what they sound like.

The Start Of a Mental Tennis Meltdown

“Ahhh, it’s too windy.” “The sun is in my eyes, I can’t see. That’s why I’m serving the ball 50 feet long.” “My opponent has better equipment.” “I didn’t get enough sleep.” “The line judge or umpire doesn’t like me.”

Sound familiar? Yeah, we’ve all uttered these words in a tennis match, at some point. But let me ask you, it probably had it’s consequences, didn’t it?

It probably not only resulted in the losing of many points, but the giving away of the entire match too on many occasions. Am I right?

Now, why are these mental tennis deflections of responsibility so damaging?

Two Reasons Why This Type Of Thinking Can Kill Your Mental Tennis Game:

1. No Control: When a tennis player like you and I place the blame of our misfortune on anything other than ourselves, we’re basically saying (…indirectly or otherwise) that we can’t handle it.

We’re telling ourselves that we don’t have the power to overcome the problem we’re experiencing, but our opponent does.

Example: It’s too windy. Oh, so if the wind wasn’t a factor, you’d demolish your opponent, right? This stuff kills your tennis confidence.

You don’t realize it when it’s happening, that your mental tennis training is failing you, because you’re in the moment, and the adrenaline is pumping. But I’m telling you, it literally suffocates it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to say any player is better than I am when I’m engaged in battle. No way!

As a matter of fact, not even after the match is completed do I outwardly admit that my opponent is a superior player. Now hey, he or she may have played better on that day.

But I whole-heartedly believe that I shall definitely clean his clock when we meet again icon wink Mental Tennis: The Tennis Players Mind Can Be Their Deadliest Enemy . That’s the attitude you want to have.

You see, there’s one thing you want to remember. And this is critical. The player on the other side of the net has NO ADVANTAGE: 99.99999% of the time. It’s usually pretty much “Even Steven.”

You might not agree with that notion at times, when points seem to not be going your way, but it is. You know why?

Your opponent is going to be playing with his own set of both physical and mental tennis troubles. He’s probably got a knee that’s bothering him.

And if the weather or playing conditions are a factor, then  he’s experiencing the same wind or exhausting heat you are.

So, don’t worry. You’re both playing with the same deck. Nobody’s got any extra “aces” hidden up their sleeve.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think nature has any stakes in the match. I don’t think the sun plays the sports book in Vegas.

2. You’ll become the hunted: Very rarely, when tennis players make excuses, do they do so in a covert manner. Though ideal, we do the exact opposite.

We more times than not broadcast our troubles to our opponent. We’re throwing our hands in the air, slamming our rackets, and yelling to the top of our lungs.

Think that’s somehow gets you some sort of sympathy? WRONG! It’ll get you killed. Once your opponent smells blood, he won’t take it easy.

…He’s going to bare his teeth and get even more aggressive, and he’ll attack you in the worst place possible, the place where you’ve already showed him that you’re the most vulnerable.

You revealed that when you yelled after ever botched forehand volley or after repeatedly missing balls that have a bit of slice or backspin.

Now, why do you make these excuses? Is it because you WANT to put choke hold around your winning chances? I strongly doubt that.

You see, playing the mental tennis blame game and finger pointing is something we use to defend ourselves. We use it to fend off the tension and stress produced from our woeful play.

When we botch up an easy overhead smash shot, dump a kill volley into the net, or double-fault on set point or a critically important point in the tiebreak…

…We get nervous, our body tenses up, and our mind goes numb. An excuse is an easy way for a tennis player to release some of that unwanted feeling and loosen up the vice so to speak.

But you know what that really does. All that does is dampen your competitive fire and give yourself permission to lose. That’s no good.

Hey even if you think you have reasons that may actually be legitimate (…and some are), like if you think you were hooked or cheated on a particular play…

…True, that’s both unfortunate and unfair. But It still does you no good to sit on it, overreact and put on a one-act melodrama for your opponent.

Alright, you’re better than the wind. You’re better than all of those reasons you give. You’re better than a bad line call.

But just by chance, you do let one of these guys slip in there (…and you start to use doubt and excuses), it’s ok. It happens. But you want to get it out of your head as fast as you can.

The longer the effects linger, the heavier they become, and the harder they are to get rid of.

You want to come into the match with the mindset like the title of recent Nicholas Cage movie, NEXT!

If you make a mistake or something bothering you, immediately eliminate it from thought and say next. You can do this internally in your head or by saying it aloud, whichever you prefer.

I prefer you say aloud. This type of thinking diminishes the likelihood of you dwelling on a negative element for too long, and it helps you to automatically clear your mind and replace that focus on the next task.

So, don’t hold on to it. Don’t give up. Don’t erase your own sense of power and self-esteem. Don’t play the blame game.

Don’t for a second, think that you somehow can’t tackle a particular problem but your opponent can.

Let it go, and prepare for the next one. And remember, you have the power to overcome any obstacle. You just have to believe you can! You control if you win or lose, you do!

Have a great day and an even better game,


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }


If you are injured should you play …I mean aches and pain only ?



Charlie ferber

Enjoyed reading your article. I actually have a few notes on my racquet, my favourite being, FORGET IT, NEXT Shot. After every point,won or lost, I look at it and get ready to focus on the next point, it works. Cheers, charlie


Good point Brian. Never do anything to make your opponent think he sees a weakness in you. That will just give him more confidence . The last thing you want is for your opponent to get more confidence. Just repeat to yourself ” when the going gets tough, the tough get going “.

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