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How Champion Tennis Players Overcome Pressure

It's less than one hour away from the start of the match and every junior player is getting ready. Many players are either warming up on tennis courts, stretching and listening to music, or strategizing with their coaches, parents, and loved ones, while some are alone collecting their thoughts and visualizing their upcoming match.

Tennis players may have different routines, and while no particular routine is necessarily wrong, the mindset in which they are preparing themselves for when they compete must be exactly on point. It is the mentality that needs to be tapped into to understand the deeper meaning of how junior tennis players are readying themselves for tournaments - and, more specifically, how players are readying themselves for pressure.

Non-Champion Tennis Players Vs. Champion Tennis Players

Too often, non-champion tennis players perceive pressure as a threat that must be avoided at all cost. They may start worrying about possible future outcomes and unknowingly prepare their mind for possible defeat.

Champion tennis players, similar to non-champion tennis players, may also feel pressure. However, the big difference is that champion tennis players view pressure as an opportunity and look forward to the physical sensation that pressure brings.

Recently, one of my younger athletes - a very talented, nine-year-old competitive go-kart racer - stated that for him, "Pressure is what I like the most about competing. It is the most exciting part." He mentioned that, "without pressure, it would not be fun." In addition, he said that, he prefers "a harder race" when his competitors are even better than him.


Why Is This Response Out Of The Ordinary?

Too often, athletes fear pressure and worry about future mistakes, other competitors, and even disappointing others. It is important to remember that pressure is a part of competition and reaching their big goals of obtaining a college scholarship or even succeeding as a professional. It is not about eliminating all of the pressure - but instead it is about how a player is able to manage it.


Having Fun With Pressure

One plan of action that I encourage junior players to start working on is to practice enjoying pressure. To enjoy pressure, junior players need to adjust their goals.

Also, players should sit down and talk with their support team (coaches, parents, etc.). It is critical that the junior player lets the support team know that the focus is going to be on enjoyment rather than winning. This disclosure of goals helps reassure a young player trust with those who care the most about results - and in many cases allows the player to feel calmer in even the toughest moments.


Patrick Albán, B.S, M.S., is Director of Mental Training at SPMI, Cañas Tennis Academy, and Rick Macci Tennis Academy. Albán has trained hundreds of tennis players throughout the world, helping them maximize their mental game and achieve their goals in tennis and in life.


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Page updated on Monday, November 05, 2018
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