Tennis’ Ultimate Mental Toughness Checklist

Mental Toughness Checklist for Tennis Players

How does Nadal continue to fight so hard on the court?

Why does it seem like there’s almost never a dip in missed returns from Djokovic?

When you’re playing a doubles match why can’t you keep the same level of focus?

There always seems to be that one game where you have a few loose points and maybe a double fault, then all of a sudden, you’ve lost your serve.

Why does this happen?! And what can we do to stop it?

How to Maintain Focus Throughout a Tennis Match

“tennis isn’t just a mental game, it’s a game heavily influenced by sustained concentration”

Jeff Sackmann in his post Rethinking the Mental Game

Tennis is about mental toughness, but really what that means, is the ability to stay focused throughout a match.

You don’t double fault because you’re not “mentally tough,” it’s because you lose focus. Same thing when you miss a few forehands in a row. You’re playing looser than you should be for whatever reason.

The 3 Step Focus Checklist

Below is my checklist you can use to stay focused during matches. Anytime you feel a slip in focus or a dip in your level of play, do this…

#1 Tell your partner exactly what you’re going to do on the next point.

Calling where you’re going to serve, for example, will help you focus on hitting that specific spot, instead of just “getting it in.”

And don’t just signal to your partner, tell them!

Then tell them if you’re going to come into the net after. Be as detailed as possible in your language. This will force you to focus on the details of the point.

Pro Tip: If your partner is the one losing focus, go to the back of the court and ask them specifically what they’re going to do on the next point.

#2 Visualize the point.

After telling your partner what you’re going to do, visualize it.

Use your mind’s eye to see yourself hitting the serve into the body and running to the net for a volley afterwards. This is very effective and top pro athletes use this in every sport.

#3 Exaggerate your foot movement.

Often when you lose focus, the problem is that you get lazy and out of position on your shots. Exaggerating movement with your feet will help you fix this.

Focus on taking a lot of small steps as you prepare for your shot. Don’t worry as much about the swing – you already know how to swing the racquet. Just make sure you get in the right position.

Write these steps down or print this out and put it in your tennis bag. You can look at it on changeovers in your league and tournament matches to remind yourself to STAY FOCUSED!

Good luck!

This is part 1 of a 3 part series. Read part 2 here.

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