Most tennis players know they'll be more successful on the court if they can stay calm between points and control their body language. Nevertheless, very few tennis players actually accomplish this task and some mistakenly believe that it's better to let your anger out.
Frustration is everywhere on tennis courts around the world and one of my primary goals as a coach is to help my students get rid of that frustration and enjoy the game more, regardless of their playing level.
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There are two primary reasons why it's so important to stay calm and follow a routine between points.
Fake It, Til You Make It
Sports science research has shown if you act confident between points and display positive body language, you're much more likely to feel that way. If you act unhappy and display negative body language, you're much more likely to develop more negative emotions.
Regardless of where you are in a match and what your current internal state is, by acting confident and positive between points you push yourself more towards a positive internal state.
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When you act negative between points you push yourself more towards a negative internal state. As a result, it really makes no sense to "let your anger" out and leave your shoulders hanging.
Now you might ask yourself, 'How can I act confident when I am not playing well?' In order to act confident between points even when you are playing bad, you need to be able to put tennis into perspective and have a strong inner belief that you will soon come back to normal form.
If on the other hand you have a strong belief that your self-worth depends on your tennis performance, then it will be really difficult for you to act confident when you are not playing well.
If you let your anger out between points by screaming or throwing your racquet, it takes much longer for you to calm down. As a result, you will not be properly prepared to play the next point.
Taking a deep breath and controlling your body language simply gives you a much better chance of being well prepared for the next point. That's why it is so important to follow your in-between point ritual, no matter what the score is.
How did John McEnroe manage to do so well despite his negative outbursts? McEnroe is a rare exception with an unusual ability to go from a negative state into a positive state. Perhaps, he could also have performed better with more emotional self-control.