News & Features
Getting Started What's your Mental Game Plan?
by Angus Mugford, Ph.D., 2 October 2009
Special from the IMG Performance Institute
Tennis players of all levels are used to the concept of 'practice makes perfect'. Indeed some go further and understand that 'perfect practice makes perfect'. In this search of perfection athletes will spend a great deal of time, blood, sweat and tears pounding the ball and pounding their feet on the court and sometimes also in the gym. However, many of these players are missing the most important muscle of all. The six inches between your ears! Indeed a lot of players assume that you have to mental 'problems' to work on your mental game. This is probably good news to those of you who do take your mental game seriously. Your opponents are giving you an edge!
There is an adage that 'successful people do what unsuccessful people are not prepared to do'. In many ways, spending time on court and improving strength and fitness is 'easier' work. Physical conditioning often seems more tangible and real. There seems to be clearer and proven methods of developing stronger muscles, or even technical improvements where working on your forehand through repetition and the watchful eye of a coach will bring about the desired changes in a match. The mental game can be a lot less straightforward. This website is providing cutting edge information to players and this contribution to the mental part of the game will be updated once a month. This is the first article and aims to introduce you to some ideas for where to start spending more time on your mental game.
What is a Mental Game?
The first important question to ask is what is a mental game? This is not simply a matter of not 'losing your cool' on the court. We're not talking about Marat Safin type outbursts or broken racquets, although this would clearly be an area to improve. Instead, think of when your mind is important in matches. What decisions do your have to make? What do you want to focus on? What is your mind like when you are playing great tennis? What have been your most mentally tough moments?
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