“I doubt that there have been enough people trying their best in British Tennis.”- Tim HenmanIn this article I wish to mention to you how mind training can promote your success in tennis as it can go on to help your game strategies and break through any limitations you may have and control your thinking. You can play the game others only dream.My research has found only a little on the bookshelves dedicated to mental skills training for tennis. For a motivating, thought provoking and performance changing read, get yourself a copy of the best selling classic ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ by W. Timothy Gallwey. In his book he explains more on how your mind works.Most professional tennis players, plus coaches, followed by an increasing number of recreational players, now better understand how to improve their confidence, belief, motivation and master their emotions. However, I have yet to meet any one tennis player who fully appreciates all of his/her strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has attitudes, behaviours, inclinations and preferences they are not fully aware of.Do you have a limiting belief that you cannot perform a top spin second serve? If that is the case, you are telling yourself you cannot do it either now, or in the future. Look back on times when you were sure you could not do something, but then with experience and constant training, you know you now can. So you cannot perform a top spin second serve yet!My purpose here is to have you consider the way you think, so you can better achieve your goals and reach your full potential, if that is what you truly desire.Let me answer that question going on in your mind… what’s it all about? Mental skills and sport psychology are not modern concepts, they have been around for as long as sports have been played and are as much about mental attitude as solid technique. It now plays an increasing role in shaping a players behaviour and performance.NLP, referred to as ‘the science of success’ is one method which is steadily becoming recognised for it’s tools which benefit a sportsperson in reaching quick and lasting changes and a positive mindset. NLP emerged in the 1970s as a way to identify how people regulate their behaviours subconsciously and if required, re-programme their thought patterns. Handy techniques guide you toward powerful, positive change. Your mind is the most important body part you can train, NLP can show you how to use it to reach your full potential, or those you coach.As a human, you have an incredible mind, but it can sometimes get wired up in a way that is not useful for some of the tennis situations you find yourself in. The subconscious acts in a literal, even naïve way. As its non-judgemental, it will absorb a bad idea as much as a good one. Culture, family, peer pressure, a bad coach, all teach ways that sometimes just are not useful for what you want to achieve.The goal of mental training is to help you get greater control of yourself and tennis by planting positive suggestions in your mind. Visualisation can be used, anxieties eliminated. The secret to successful tennis is very simple, do something… anything at all! Even if you mess up you will be wiser for the experience. You have to take action, that is what separates winners from losers.Use mind training techniques as an interactive tool to challenge, excite, inspire and teach. Do not underestimate the methods, you can find them invaluable. If you consider some technique you come across strange or not to your liking, simply find another you can adjust to suit your needs. Allow yourself some quiet space and time to go through the techniques properly. It can all start with one technique and it will start by knowing that technique well. Learn one then extend your range. Even the simple act of doing a minor technique can get you moving onto others.There are no quick fix miracle cures, you have to put the time in to learn and use the methods, but the successful methods you learn will help you begin making a wave of changes. Chances are you will be bitten by the bug as you find your confidence grow. Excited? You should be. Many of these methods can rock you to your core. They can also affect other areas of your life
In a previous article, I suggested incorporating ball games into your workout regimen as an alternative to monotonous and dull exercises like cycling and weight lifting. One such game is tennis. Tennis is great exercise because it fulfills all the requirements of a full body workout while masquerading as a game almost anyone can play.The trainers that I know have a method in mind when they work with someone who wants to lose weight and/or get in better shape. They combine aerobic exercise, which is a low-intensity, long duration workout designed to strengthen the cardio-vascular system, and anaerobic exercise, which is a high intensity, short duration workout designed to increase muscle mass and, as a result, produce more strength, speed and power. They use a wide variety of both kinds of exercise in order to work every part of the human body. There are three reasons for this:
The more muscle groups you use, the more muscle mass is increased which means more calories are burned.
Since all parts of the body are being strengthened, injuries are less likely because no one area is being overtaxed at the expense of another.
In addition to burning calories, aerobic exercise keeps the heart rate up and increases oxygen intake which makes the heart and lungs stronger and, ultimately, run more efficiently.You can benefit from both aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise with tennis rackets!Tennis involves many different movements that make the same full body muscle demands as a trainer’s workout. Let’s consider the demands put on the body from returning a ball. The player’s swing calls upon the foot and leg muscles for support and stability. The twisting torso flexes to produce much of the power behind the stroke. The upper body, particularly the hand, forearm and shoulder, supplies the swing speed and the grip strength needed to hit the ball correctly.Before a player can employ his stroke, he or she must first get to the place that is within swinging distance of the ball. While walking has long been considered a worthwhile aerobic exercise, it is quick starts and stops and short sprints, often associated with chasing down a tennis ball, that are recognized by trainers as a superior way to improve cardiovascular health and burn calories. Even treadmill workouts are more beneficial when the pace is frequently changed. This is called interval training.Tennis also involves jumping, running backwards, lunging, stretching, bending and turning the body in endless directions to address incoming balls. These movements tax many different parts of the body.There are aerobic benefits associated with playing tennis, as well. Have you ever watched players after a long rally? They are breathing a bit harder because they were kept going by a long point. This type of activity increases lung capacity and heart strength which makes the cardiovascular system operate more efficiently. Even without long rallies, playing tennis at a moderate, consistent pace combines muscle stress and aerobics into a productive full body workout. Interval workouts done on a treadmill or bike do not work the whole body like a game of tennis can.Tennis requires little investment but the health benefits are many. Start out slowly if you are new to the game or are revisiting it after a lengthy hiatus. (For me, the latter applies after just one northeast winter!) Tennis elbow, a soreness on the outside of the arm just above the elbow, is a common complaint of those who try to do too much too fast. Many other parts of your body may “revolt,” too, but that just proves how much of your body you are strengthening!So get out there and knock some balls around. Play hard and you will soon see… you really can reap the rewards of aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise with tennis rackets and the game of tennis.
I have often thought – and in most situations correctly, I might add – that the game of tennis is analogous to the game of life.There are ups and downs in each match, much like life.On tour, as well as at the club, one of the biggest determining factors between victory and defeat is how well a player handles adversity.How a player – or a person – handles adversity is as much a mark of character as any that exists.On the other hand, opportunities will abound in a match when a player is NOT facing adversity; the willingness to seize opportunities when they arise will define a player’s character as well.However, great players play to win, while the ‘best of the rest’ generally play ‘not to lose’.This is the kind of fear one can almost smell on the tennis court.Great players go against the grain, looking for – and creating – opportunities to beat their opponents into the ground.Bjorn Borg, who won six French Opens on the slow red clay of Rolland Garros, as well as five consecutive titles on the fast grass at Wimbledon, defied the conventional wisdom of the day, that a baseliner couldn’t win on grass. He proved that for a man who plays to win, the surface – and the opponent – exists merely to be subdued.Like I said, tennis is like life. If you approach the game of tennis – or the bigger game of life – with the attitude of just trying ‘not to lose’ (think about your last lost to a ‘pusher’), then you probably are going to lose.But if you PLAY TO WIN, the odds of your winning are greatly improved.You won’t win them all; but your winning percentage will go up dramatically.Remember that scene from the movie ‘Rocky II’, when Rocky is by Adrianne’s bedside in thehospital? He’s about to tell her he’ll quit boxing, as she didn’t want him to get hurt anymore. When she finally wakes up from her coma, she says “I want you to do something for me.””What?” he asks.”Win” she says.Not “give it your best shot”.Not “don’t get hurt, honey, okay?”Win.Now mind you, playing to win doesn’t mean winning every time.It means just that – play in a manner that gives YOU the best chance of winning.If you lose a lot of matches because you hit a lot of unforced errors by taking unnecessary, wild risks, that tells me you have a low shot tolerance, and you need to raise it. Keep the ball in play longer, and you’ll win more.Very simple.If you lose a lot of matches because you simply push the ball back hoping your opponent will miss, that tells me you need to improve your shotmaking – and then take more bold shots when the opportunities arise.What happens if you take this approach in your match and still end up losing?You get hurt, of course.But, hey… that’s life – that’s tennis.If there were no risk involved, everyone would play to win.When you play to win, you’re telling the world that you believe in yourself – and your ability on the tennis court – so much that you’re not afraid to take risks.When you do lose, there’s this gem from the ages:You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over again.It’s true in tennis and it’s true in life.You teach it to your kids.Robert Kiyosaki once said “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”The kicker of it all is that the more you play ‘not to lose’, the more you will probably end up losing.That’s because you won’t be hitting the shots you need to hit to win points, and what you will be doing subconsciously is actually playing to lose.Fail if you must during the process.Analyze, adjust, and move forward playing to win the next match.And the next one.And the next one.Remember, when you take this approach your goal is to WIN.When you play to win:- You are not playing to be liked (although respect is a nice byproduct of winning).- You are not playing to be loved, or adored, or be thought of fondly (if you really want to be loved, get a dog. Trust me, your dog will love you no matter what).- You can bet your ass there are going to be people who dislike you, will make fun of you when you lose, will call you stupid for taking ‘unnecessary’ risks on the tennis court, and on and on.- You grow up and deal with it; because winning solves a whoooooole bunch of those problems, and weeds the weak-minded and back-biting people from your life – and attracts other winners and those who understand the sacrifices you’ve made to become a winner.So play to win – and do it with honor, respect and fair-mindedness; and when the last point has been played, your only regret will be that you didn’t start doing it sooner!To Your Massive Tennis Success,Coach Kyril