Tennis: Winning the Mental Match

Tennis is more difficult mentally than most other sports. Because of its one-on-one personal nature, it feels more important than it is.

Competitive matches can become highly stressful, and losing is painful. Emotions tend to get out of hand, with fears and nerves becoming difficult to control.

Confidence comes and goes; the scoring system is diabolical; and everyone is at risk of choking, even the greatest players in the world. This book attacks these and other issues faced by players of all levels.

Dr. Allen Fox's solutions are logical and straightforward, and most importantly, they have been tested on court and they work. Here is a summary of the insight you can find in Dr. Allen Fox's latest book, "Tennis: Winning the Mental Match."

CHAPTER 1: WHY DO WE WANT TO WIN? Winning a tennis match feels more important than it is because players are genetically wired to compete for position on the social hierarchy. The emotions of a tennis match resemble those of a fight. Players may realize that winning a match doesn't really matter, but they will always want to win anyway.

CHAPTER 2: THE EMOTIONAL ISSUES OF COMPETITION Tennis is inherently an emotional game. Because match outcomes feel important but are ultimately uncontrollable, matches can become stressful. There is often an unconscious urge to escape this stress, which leads to counterproductive behaviors, among which are anger, tanking, and excuse-making. These can be overpowered by the conscious mind, but it requires understanding, high motivation, and constant effort.

CHAPTER 3: USING EMOTION TO HELP YOU WIN Your emotions will dramatically affect your tennis performance. We discuss how to keep counterproductive emotions in check and how to create productive ones that will help you win. Topics include the use of adrenalin, profiting from the time between points, and maintaining an optimal excitation level.

CHAPTER 4: REDUCING THE STRESS Matches can become overly stressful, and this hinders performance. Stress can be reduced by developing a more realistic perspective of the game. Included are accepting outcomes that can't be controlled; resisting a narrow focus on winning; avoiding excessive perfectionism; getting over losses quickly; and using goals for hope and motivation rather than allowing them to become expectations and cause stress.

CHAPTER 5: THE PROBLEMS OF FINISHING Most players become nervous and stressed when they are ahead and face the hurdle of finishing the match against a dangerous opponent. The unique tennis scoring system intensifies this problem. The closer players get to winning, the greater the stress. Trying to reduce it gives rise to counterproductive behaviors such as procrastinating the finish or becoming "overconfident" and easing up with a lead.

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