How to Improve Your Mental Toughness on the Court

  1. Establish and maintain a game plan (making adjustments and changes as necessary) and have a purpose for each and every shot. Develop a plan and purpose to take advantage of the things you do best.
  2. Make smart decisions. Play high percentage tennis.
  3. Focus on one point at a time. Focus particularly on winning the first two points of every game to apply pressure on your opponent.
  4. Manage the time and tempo of the match. Take advantage of your 25 seconds between points and 90 seconds on the changeovers to collect your composure and to prepare yourself properly for each and every point (i.e. judiciously use towel breaks).
  5. Have a ritual (consistent routine) prior to hitting your first and second serves and prior to receiving each serve from your opponent to eliminate outside distractions and to narrow your focus to the task at hand. Look to Rafael Nadal for a good example of how to prepare with a ritual prior to each and every point.
  6. Stay in the present. Don’t dwell on mistakes, missed opportunities or bad turn of events. Deal with the bad bounces, unlucky breaks, etc. by “moving forward and putting things behind you”.
  7. Be positive. Use positive affirmations and “self talk” for motivation and to acknowledge good events.
  8. Love the pressure of competition. Welcome the challenge of competition, particularly from an opponent who presents a difficult obstacle.
  9. Acknowledge, even embrace pain and fatigue to improve your pain threshold and your ability to “fight through it”. When you are hurting, it is best not to “wish it away”. This often leads to passive play and resignation.
  10. Have fun. Keep things in perspective and remember what it is you enjoy about hitting tennis balls and getting on the court to compete.

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