Psychology in tennis HELP! My daughter gets upset...

Psychology in tennis HELP! My daughter gets upset...

Psychology in tennis HELP!!! I have a daughter who is an excellent player who only started playing tennis seriously last yr at the age of 13. She is a much better player than all the people she has completed against in matches but always loses due to over hitting and getting upset if the wrong call is made (which happens frequently due to how fast she hits and serves) do we need some sort of psychological help for this. what is the best way to get this... books, councilling ??? any help would be most appreciated thanks

Tennis CoachCoach
Tennis CoachCoach

The most challenging aspect of tennis is the psychological aspect of the game. If she has good fundamentals (which doesn't always mean hitting the ball hard and fast), she needs to slow her mind down a little while she plays. She probably is overhitting the ball because she is working with the assumption that she is superior than her opponent, which she may be, so she is trying to crush the ball everytime. Plenty of weaker players beat stronger players because they are consistent in hitting the ball back over the net and waiting for the other player to make the error, which in your case, your daughter is the one making the errors. It's ok to have a rally more than 2-3 shots. Have her work on staying in the rally longer and then picking the opportune time to hit a winning shot. Nick Bolletieri calls it the "opportunity ball". Many time the mindset of a better player undermines their skills because they assume they should beat their opponents handily, and when they start to lose, they do not have the mental toughness to focus on the next point, they look back at the last point. I tell my students over and over again "One point at a time!" Once the point is over, it's over. Move on. Hope that helps a little.

Tennis CoachCoach

thanks so much for your help in this i will print this off 2 enable her 2 progress forward.

Tennis CoachCoach

have your daughter calm down on the matches cause getting upset won't help her game it will only help her loose focus on the game even if the oponent calls a bad line call have her focus on the game and forget about the line calls because cheaters never win but if she lets that control her game she will definatly loose her mind and game so tell her to just focus on the game and just study the oponent's weakness and keep hitting on her oponents weakness and keep switching back and forth to keep her oponent confused and the much slower she thinks where she is going to hit the ball she will then win the match have her slow down cause over hitting the ball is not the Right way to go it only makes you tired so have her hit every different shot everytime hit long and short and when she gets the opportunity then she can hit it hard .. hope it helped take care ....

Tennis CoachCoach

thankyou joseph I will print this great helpful advice for her . thanks for taking the time to respond

Tennis CoachCoach

Hi , I am a 17 year old girl who has SA colours in tennis. I was at the stage when someone cheats me that I lose my temper. It was because I also hit the ball hard, fass and flat that there was bad line calls. I just learned to calm myself down because if you lose your temper you might as well walk of the court as a loser. I am much calmer these days and would still stand up for what I think is right if someone cheats but I don't lose my temper anymore. I just walk to the fence and tell myself that I can do this without losing it!!! Roger Federer lost his temper when he was young and threw his rackets and his dad simply told him if he does it again he must say goodbye to tennis. He NEVER did it again.  So my advice is just take a moment and turn around. Tell yourself to not lose your temper and if he/she cheats the 3rd time, CALL AN UMPIRE!

sebastien ScauxCoach, England

You can also remind your daughter that Roger Federer used to have a terrible temper. He was a good player but not great. He decided to work on it and become the player he is today.

Now a drill to recognise which ball to hit and which one not to.

Have you daughter play some points but for every shot she hits ask her to shout her intention - Rally, Defence or Attack When she calls the wrong shot ask her why she played the shot she called rather than the correct one. You/coach needs to explain what shot was correct and why.

Tennis CoachCoach

thankyou RiSsle and Sebastien...great advice that I will pass onto my daughter who is now also 17......She climbing up slowly but in control...Very proud of her as she is a very gracious loser and always shakes hands and waits for her opponent before leaving court...She will be a champion one because she lives and sleeps tennis and because she has learnt how to lose first before being a winner....Good luck RiSsle...pity u r not nearby she really could have done with a gd hitting partner....Pls get in touch if you would chat to her more

Tennis CoachCoach

Yes Liz, pitty I don't live nearby. I could also do with a good hitting partner. I live in a small (very SMALL) town so here is nobody I can train with. I also coach some of the little kids now. I would like to talk to her so I don't know if she has facebook. Then you can just give me her name and we can talk???

mark whiteCoach, England

Also try and remember that she has only been playing for a year so in the scheme of things is still a beginner interms of mental toughness on a tennis court.  She will be playing against players who have been playing for longer and therefore will have a wiser head on their shoulders.

She needs to try and channel the aggression by really concentrating on the next point rather than blaming herself for an error

Tennis CoachCoach

@ mark white she is now 17 and was 13 when she started so she has a lot more experience now, but what you said is still true though. Just wanted to say that she is not a beginner anymore after 4 years!

Tennis CoachCoach

Here's the brutal truth, better late than never! %3A)

1. Your daughter is not a better player if she loses the match.

2. She should be focusing on performance (keeping the ball 1 ft inside the line) and process (e.g. moving her feet) goals , not outcome goals (winning/losing/score)

3. Getting upset is a sign that she is future or past focused during competition instead of present focused.

4. Her ego is attached to the outcome of the match, which degrades performance.

5. She is perhaps too new to the sport to be competing seriously. Obviously it is stressful to her.

A book such as "Roadmap to the Zone%3A enhancing athletic performance" would be good reading. 

Also, as a parent, you have to be careful you are not contributing to the problem. Parent mental training might be something to look at. [link removed] />Have a look at the Emotion Wheel at [link removed] describes the pitfalls many athletes fall into while competing and how to fix it.

@lizHobbs%3A It would be interesting to hear what has happened over the past 3 years.


Tennis CoachCoach

Hi Paul. many thanks for the feedback. On Monday she will become a 7.2 but still struggles against a certain style of play. Cheating in girls tennis is rife and she struggles to cope with it. (witnessed by others including myself, one parent actually complained to a referee about a very bad line call to her). She was also abused on court by a parent who walked on and started ranting. My daughter ended up in tears, turning the opposite way so he couldn't see them. She is now starting to slowly get stronger minded and standing up to the cheats. It is a shame as she lives and breathes tennis, when she is not practising (ie coching lessons or sqaud practice) she will b practising against a wall, getting fit, checking out what to eat, reading books and watching dvds etc to enhance her game. She is extremely disciplined as was in the England karate team gaining her blk belt at 12. She also used to do the same for this sport prior to taking up tennis.


Tennis CoachCoach

Hi rissele . If u would like to chat to my daughter my email address is lizhobbs100 at hotmail dot com. I can then forward details to her for you start chatting. Do you have a blackberry? BBM ? liz

Tennis CoachCoach

Hi Liz.

First of all I would like to tell you that I've studied a lot about tennis ( technical and psychological) and from everything I’ve learned in the past 8-10 years I can confirm that PAUL’s answer was spot on regarding your daughter problem. That is exactly what the books are talking about in this kind of situations. BUT, sometimes this explanations are too technical and, even they can be very easy to understand, it is very hard to find the way to transfer this theoretical knowledge into real word. How can you make it happen, what are the methods needed to be used to reach the final point??? There is the real challenge….

Just as an idea which I’ve been using in my son’s situation and some of my students is as follows:

Your main job as a parent or as coach is helping her to find the pleasure playing tennis and the pleasure and satisfaction of doing continuous progressin playing a good quality tennis. Winning matches should come just as a result of their continuous improvement and not the main reason of playing tennis. In the same time loosing a match while playing your best tennis means you won a great deal that match. Loosing a match while you are playing your best is a great opportunity to find your areas where you can improve. Loosing a match and learning something from that match could mean winning the next " 10 matches" doing the right thing.

Now , how I’ve manage to transfer this philosophy to my son ? Not easy, and not a quick process but every time when he was winning a match without playing his best tennis, winning in a way which I called it ” winning ugly” , I told him that I was not happy. He didn’t understand at first why I am not happy as he just won a match ? My explanation to him was :..” because he just lost 1 hour on the court playing just to win a “ match” and not to win, what I used to call “ TENNIS” . In the same time , when he was coming from the court very said as he lost a match , if he had a good match, playing his best tennis, I used to show him that I am very happy for him , as he really was the great winner that day. He WON , "TENNIS” which is great. He has done one more step forward in tennis, playing that match. And by the way, every time after the match finish I used to ask my son what were his weaknesses and strengths during that match, and what are the areas he think we should insist more during next tennis sessions ??? In the same time what do he think that were the pluses and minuses to his opponent ?. This discussions are always very  helpful as they help the kids to become more mature AND are deviating the thoughts from the outcome of the match ( winning or LOOSING) to the things which are really important.

He slowly stated to understand and to feel the real satisfaction of playing a great match, regardless the outcome ( loose or win the match) which was just second priority. Now my son is a great player, really enjoying tennis, and his attitude and mental toughness is better than most of the players 20 years older than him. I am really happy for him.

“You have to make sure that after each match you are the WINNER. To be always the winner you have to play your best TENNIS every time, playing your best shots and best strategies for that particular match. If you do that, YOU are THE WINNER as you’ve just won more “ TENNIS”, you WON Quality TENNIS…”

I hope that will help. I know that sometime they are not silver bullets for this problems , but maybe it is worth to try. Success\, Gabriel

Tennis CoachCoach

Thankyou very much Gabriel for your very constructive comment....I will indeed take heed to this and discuss what your have put....

Greatly appreciated and many thanks for your help Liz

Tennis CoachCoach

its hard to change the personality of players. however she has hope just train her hard. be tough on her sometimes and give her a little motivation before playing the match. there are also books that help you conquer the "demons inside us" while playing tennis

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