Winning Mental Techniques for Players
There are a number of powerful mental techniques the world's top players have used over the years - which you can use too!
Novak Djokovic used meditation and visualization to help him achieve the inner calm that helped him catapult above Federer and Nadal to world's number one.
He even used visualization as a child - standing in front of a mirror with a hand-made trophy, imagining he was the greatest player in the world. Roger Federer and Serena Williams are among others who also used visualization to direct their minds towards their goals.
Back in the 70's, Arthur Ashe famously meditated during the change of ends of his winning Wimbledon final against Jimmy Connors in the 70's. Many players now use this technique to remain calm and focused under match pressure.
Body language is also a big factor on court during matches. for instance, Djokovic made a specific change to a regular on-court habit of looking at his coach in between points - to instead closing his eyes and taking some deep breaths.
Andy Murray made some similar changes when Ivan Lendl took over his coaching, and the on-court confident 'swagger' was abundantly clear in players such as Boris Becker.
Andre Agassi was known for his fast walking, between points and to the change of ends - this was a body language technique that would make his opponents feel rushed, and to begin playing at Agassi's pace instead of their own.
It was also a good technique to maintain motivation on court - as it's difficult to walk fast and feel negative at the same time.
Ivan Lendl used mental warfare by slowing down after any point that he lost, but he would then speed up between points he won.
This was purely to create the impression to his opponent that they were losing points quickly, and winning points slowly. (Apart from McEnroe, Lendl's delaying tactics are credited as the main reason for time limits being brought in for between points).
The list goes on, but let me summarize 6 enormously powerful mental strengths (or qualities), which sets champions apart from the rest of the field.
These mental strengths gather together all their inner power, talent and ability - to bring the players to their peak levels, right when it counts most - under pressure.
Every single player possesses these qualities in varying different amounts, which is why two players possessing the same physical abilities often do not achieve identical results, and may even have vastly different careers.
These mental strengths are so powerful they boost almost every area of life, as well as your tennis - and are definitely worth developing, as they will deliver improvements in every area of your game. OK, so what are they? Here we go:
1. Mental Clarity / Emotional Stability
If you are a player with a clear and organized mind and reasonably stable emotions, you will usually have the edge on those with massive up-and-down moodswings, or erratic thought patterns and behavior.
You will find it easier to keep to an organized schedule and attain a consistent results, as well as being able to handle pressure better than most.
2. Ability to Handle Pressure
Handling pressure of big tournaments is best achieved by either deflecting it, or channelling it directly into your performances.
Both these approaches work well, depending upon your personality type and which approach suits you best - or you can use a combination of the two.
a) Deflecting pressure - simply means moving it away from yourself, to remove yourself from the spotlight, so you can relax and focus on your race. For instance, if your friends began hyping-up your chances of winning an upcoming match or tournament, and it was beginning to put additional pressure on you - you might deflect this pressure by 'playing down' your chances and maybe mentioning that another player is actually the hot favorite (yes, even if you secretly know that you do have an excellent chance).
b) Channelling pressure - this means using the pressure for additional motivation, rather than avoiding it - this is where you direct the increasing excitement, pressure and emotions into your training and matches, allowing all the pent-up nervous energy to explode on court and into your play.
3. Endless Resilience
In tennis, resilience means to be relentless and never giving up, no matter what - bouncing back from defeats and coming roaring back even better and stronger next time. This is a powerful quality that every great player must possess in truckloads.
4. Daily Self Motivation
An inner fire must burn within you, that constantly makes you want to get out to the court, to practice and achieve your goals - yes, even without all the additional encouragement you may get from others such as your coach, friends and family.
No-one else can replace this, or give it to you - the fire needs to come from deep within you, because it's you who puts in the hours of practice - and this relentless discipline will ultimately deliver all the magic moments to you, in future matches.
Discipline comes from self motivation, and self motivation comes from you - keep fueling that motivation with thoughts and imaginings of great tennis successes ahead.
5. Wise Choices / Goals:
Making good decisions is essential for ultimate success. Keeping your mind on your goal is always important here, as it will help you to think more clearly and make better choices for the hundreds of tiny situations that constantly arise, all the time. eg. decisions such as choosing not to overdo the socializing the week before a big tournament, to ensure your energy levels remain strong - staying away from emotional upsets before a match, etc etc..
Basically it means saying no to anything that you feel may jeopardize your chances of achieving your goals, and saying yes to the things that truly make sense to you, and that will help you move positively forward - while still enjoying your life.
I saved the best for last - no-one makes it big, without having some level of inner belief in themselves. But dont worry, belief shouldn't be confused with nervousness - even the great champions still get nervous before big events, and this is perfectly natural (and a sign you are psyched up and ready to go).
Belief means that you have not 'written yourself off' before you even go out there on court - you must always give yourself 'a chance' of succeeding, for there to be any success. And with each new success, your inner belief will continue to strengthen and build... until eventually your belief will become permanent and unshakeable, and you will feel supremely confident in your own abilities, and ready to take on any challenge - without fear. And there is nothing to fear, but fear itself.
That's it. These 6 mental strengths will give you a massive advantage on court, and allow you to get the most out of your tennis. Begin adopting these mindsets and make them a part of you, and your game. Go forth and conquer!
"The Mind controls the body, and the Mind is Unlimited"
The best of success, Craig Townsend
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