Have you ever heard someone say something along the lines of, “He or she is good, but they’re lacking that certain something that all the tennis greats have?”
Talent is great, and it can get you far, but when you reach the top levels of your field – no matter what that field may be, everyone is talented. You need more than that to set yourself apart…you need that ‘certain something.’
It has been called the killer’s instinct…the winning attitude…the stuff of true champions, and a lot more. But what is it really? It’s a mental thing, and you can develop it too.
While there are many, these are the tops five habits of mentally tough tennis players:
They never stop believing.
The most mentally tough tennis players all have something in common: they believe in themselves. They don’t think they’re the best player out there – they know it.
You’re good? They are better. You have skills? They have more. Whatever you can offer, they can offer more. Yeah, it can come across as being cocky or arrogant at times, but confidence is a necessary skill to develop.
Of course, it should be noted that being overly confident and being a bad sport sometimes appear to be closely related. Just remember, if you cross the line, you lose your edge. If you want to be the best, make sure you develop confidence, but leave all of the unsportsmanlike behavior out of your game.
They can brush off the negative.
No matter how good you are and how much you believe in yourself, sometimes you are going to make a mistake. That is just a fact. But it’s what you do after you make that mistake that determines your mental toughness.
If you do something wrong, do you let it get to you and eat at you for days? If so, then you need to work on your mental game.
When the mentally tough player makes a mistake, they immediately brush it off. Well, that’s not entirely true. First, they learn from the mistake, and then they forget all about it.
So they messed up on their serve. They know what they did wrong, and they won’t make that mistake again. But they are certainly not going to let that mistake eat away at them. They have the rest of the game to show their opponent just how great they really are.
They never say die.
The odds may be stacked against them, but that’s OK. They still plan on winning. Great tennis players never give up. They may lose today, but tomorrow is another day. Defeat does not discourage them, it pushes them to play harder in the next game.
They’re not afraid to take a risk.
Good tennis players can be lumped into two categories: the solid players and the risk takers.
The solid players are those that never take a chance unless they absolutely have to. They play it safe. They might rarely make mistakes because they go where they need to be and do what they need to do, but they also rarely make any spectacular plays.
The risk takers, on the other hand, are the players who constantly go for the high percentage shots and who are not afraid of making a mistake. These players might miss some shots because they are trying to something incredible, however, they make up for it seconds later when they do something that makes everyone watching think, “WOW!”
Solid players are talented, but the risk takers are the great players, and they are the players people will remember after the match is long over.
It should be noted, though, that taking risks and not playing smart are two entirely different things. It’s good to take risks, but it is not good to play stupidly.
They know what they want, and they’re not afraid to work hard for it.
The mentally tough believe they are the best, but that does not mean they think they can go out on the court with no preparation.
The greatest tennis players set goals for themselves and then they work to reach those goals. They are out there practicing hours before and after everyone else. They train and condition and give their bodies the proper fuel it needs to kick tennis butt. They even watch other matches to pick up tips and scout their competition.
They are not going to let anyone have the edge over them. They are the best, and they plan on staying that way.
To be the best tennis player you can be, it takes more than practice and talent. You need to be mentally strong as well. Adopt these habits, and you’ll find that you’re more confident and winning more matches, because you’ll have that “certain something’ you didn’t have before.