BPS Chartered Psychologist

Email: Help@TennisPsychologist.co.uk

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Tennis sports psychology - improve performance

Tennis has a huge psychological element. The best players have the most developed and robust psychological skills. But you don't need to be a pro to develop these skills and improve. Here I give some examples of how I can help your performance. There are two sections:

  1. A list of 10 ways sports psychology can help your tennis
  2. Examples of performance problems and solutions

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10 ways sports psychology can help your tennis performance

  1. Manage pre-event tension and worry so you arrive at the tournament fresh and ready.
  2. Focus on the elements that are key for your optimum performance, without getting distracted by the minutiae of your play or what others are doing.
  3. Develop routines for pre-match and the breaks so you exert more control and consistency over your game.
  4. Manage the emotions (stress, frustration...) associated with competitive tennis.
  5. Maintain confidence in your ability to hold your performance or bounce back.
  6. Set goals for the year, month and next round or practice to shape what you do, focus your efforts and improve more quickly.
  7. Re-visit why you play, what motivates you, and set-up training to increase your motivation.
  8. Develop images and visualise your performance, this speeds up learning and increases confidence.
  9. Process the experiences that hold you back so you can get back to performing well.
  10. Manage poor performances so they don't cause your game or year to self-destruct.

Tennis performance problems and psychological solutions

As you can see there are many ways that sports psychology helps tennis players. To give you a further idea of what sports psychology can do I’ve listed some common problems below; along with some of the ways (but by no means all the ways) I try to solve them. Perhaps you will spot your difficulties in some of the descriptions.

Problem: You get yourself worked up into such a state before even minor matches so that you feel extremely nervous, you want to leave, and sometimes you even vomit.

Solution: After a full assessment of the difficult situation and your response we can apply a tailored stress management programme to reduce your physical and mental stress.

Problem: In your last competition you performed so badly that your confidence has taken a big fall.

Solution: We can look at that competition in detail to understand what sense you’ve made of why it happened, and at the impact it has had on you since. We then produce a stepped plan for you to get back on track, increase your confidence to its previous level (or above) and overcome the setback.

Problem: Your play is inconsistent on all courts. You don’t know what you should be doing and thinking about before each match.

Solution: There are sports psychology techniques that we can apply to help you identify your effective pre-match routine – this will lead to consistently higher performance.

Problem:Your performance has reached a plateau and hasn’t improved for a while. You set goals but don’t reach them.

Solution: Effective goal setting isn’t simple or a once a year activity. But with help you can learn to set appropriate and achievable goals, set up practice so you are likely to reach them and to conduct appropriate reviews of progress so goals can be lowered or raised over time. You will then be much more likely to achieve them.

Problem: You get distracted at key times of the game. At times you suddenly become aware that you are behind, when it is too late to bounce back.

Solution: We can work on techniques to improve concentration skills, identify the types of factors that distract you, and work on the key areas that will keep you focused when you need to. We will also identify the times when you don't need to concentrate fully on tennis elements.

Problem: You’ve been playing and competing for a number of years now and it has become repetitive, boring and mundane. Your motivation has gone. You wonder if there is any point of doing this for another year.

Solution: We can review why you play, why you got into tennis in the first place, and plan the year so it is more focused, fun and interesting. These and other techniques can help you to boost motivation and enjoy your tennis again.

What next?


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Dr Victor Thompson


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