4 Steps to Develop Mental Toughness on the Court

Know When to Concentrate

"If I told you that you had to remain completely focused for an entire three-set match, you'd never make it," says Wright, who specializes in developing junior tennis players in Arizona and Colorado. "You can't always be concentrating, and if you try to, you will hit a wall."

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Wright suggests concentrating only while the ball is in play and then relax after the point is over. That doesn't mean spacing out between points or thinking about what's going on in the stands either.

Between points players need to remain focused, but relaxed. Wright recommends going through a ritual after each point that helps keep your head in the game without sending it into overdrive.

"Pick anything you want," he says. "Maybe it's keeping your eyes down and looking at the strings on your racquet, it doesn't have to be anything complicated."

Be Flexible

Every player should try to play up their strengths and they shouldn't feel obligated to inject variety into the game. However, there are times when a player will be forced to change their game.

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"You have to go out with a flexible mind," Wright says. "Players should be wary of developing too strict of a plan or having a preconceived notion of their opponents."

Mental toughness requires getting out of your head.

Wright explains players can get caught up in what a coach or fellow teammate says about an opponent. The opponent supposedly has a weak backhand, for example. The player keeps hitting to their backhand and the opponent keeps hitting it back, sometimes even winning the point.

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"If players just concentrated on their own game instead of what they think they know about their opponent, they would probably win more matches," he says.  "And if you feel yourself starting to lose, change up the game."

Your famous top spin lobs are falling short? Put some pace on the ball. Your killer forehand is getting you nowhere? Consider coming to the net or lobbing over your opponent. Whatever it is, Wright says, keep your body engaged in the game and the rest will follow.

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