4 Steps to Develop Mental Toughness on the Court

Here's the big secret about mental toughness on the tennis court: Stop thinking about your next shot and get physical instead.

As Bill Wright, former men's tennis head coach at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Arizona, puts it, tennis is not a mental game.

More: 4 Step Plan to Stay Calm on the Court

And yet, tennis players often get stuck in a strategy purgatory, where they spend all their time on the mental part and forget about playing the game. Two hours later, the match is over, and the player is still thinking about what went wrong.

It can be a tough habit to break, but it's possible once a player treats the game of tennis differently, Wright says.

Make Your Opponent Hit Another Shot

"Our assumption is that our opponents will make every shot," Wright says. "They won't. So stop worrying about always trying to have a winner."

Instead, get physical. Move your body, hit through the ball completely, don't just tap it over, Wright says.

"Guess what happens? The ball has pace, it's over the net and now it's up to your opponent. You want to make the opponent have to beat you."

More: 4 Tips to Turn Tennis Into an Intense Workout

Get Fit

When players start winning matches it's not because they suddenly got smarter, Wright says. It's because they're fitter.

"The fitter you are, the better you move on the court," he says. "If you move better then you can set up the shot correctly. And once the ball comes back you're ready for more."

More8 Lunges to Improve Your Tennis Fitness

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