Mental Training

Basic Principles

  • If you do not think you need to improve your mental approach, you are already a top 50 player.
  • Success at a high level is seldom achieved without a huge and consistent mental and physical effort. Accept this before you begin.
  • If you are open-minded and able to learn and change your behaviour, you have a chance of becoming successful. If not, you have no chance.
  • All players who make breakthroughs in their game improve their mental approach in some way. Good examples include Martin Lee through 2001 to early 2002.

Questions to ask yourself before you begin

  • Am I prepared to give tennis my best shot?
  • Am I willing to pay the price of this effort?
  • Am I strong enough to do the training?
  • Am I willing to take responsibility for my actions, or do I blame others for my failures?
  • Can I accept that if I give it 100% I may still fall short of my goals?


Learn to change your perception of events or occurrences, so that you empower yourself to think honestly and rationally. Only concern yourself with things that you have control over:-

  • Many people make the mistake of getting stressed over events outside their control therefore wasting time and energy pointlessly. For example, there is no point getting upset because the sun suddenly came out from behind a cloud and got in your eyes when you were serving for the match. You have no control over the sun. Accept that this can happen and get on with it.
  • Only focus your mind in areas you can directly control. For example, on your level of effort and behaviour. Be prepared to accept bad luck (bad bounces, net cords etc) and understand that the outcome of a match is not 100% in your control.


Grow out of the 'excuse mentality' that allows players to shy away from honesty and from taking responsibility for themselves.

  • Blaming others for failures is the most common way in which tennis players explain why they did not make it. There are literally hundreds of players out there who argue that they would definitely have made it if only etc…
  • In Britain, the LTA is the easiest target for such criticism. However justified this criticism is or is not, players must empower themselves by taking responsibility for the progress of their own career, given the limitations of the help they can afford to get. Players with an 'excuse mentality' never give credit to those who helped them if they succeed, but are quick to blame others when they fail. This is dishonest and immature.


You always have a choice in your response to stress, disappointment, bad luck, poor results etc. The acceptance that you have a choice is another step along the road to becoming mature and responsible.

  • When players lose their composure and get angry, they often say 'I just couldn't help it', or 'I was out of control', which indicates that they ascribe their behaviour to some invisible power that made them behave angrily. They must realise that they chose to act in that way. Accepting that you can choose to behave badly also means that if you want to, you can chose to behave well.
  • It is you that controls your emotions, no one else. With discipline and effort, you can decide to react positively to all the challenges that tennis throws at you. Winning the battle of choosing the correct response will make you a much mentally tougher player.

by Jim Edgar


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