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"It's Up To You!": A strategy to maintain a great player’s attitude

The longer I coach tennis, the more I realize the impact of attitude on tennis performance. It's more important than rankings, past performances, wins, losses, or what other people think or say about your tennis abilities. Attitude often will decide the outcome of a match or the success of a team. The remarkable thing is that you have a choice every practice, every point and every match regarding the attitude you will embrace.

Remember, you cannot change the past and you cannot change the inevitable. The only thing you can do is “play on the one string you have,” and that is your attitude.

How? A tool pro tennis players use to help maintain a positive attitude and stay in the moment is what sport psychologists call cognitive-behavioral routines.

Here is an example of a classic between-point routine:

Release Stage: Release emotions and expectations from the previous point. One way of doing this is to towel off. Use the towel as a way of wiping off the last point.

Review or Rewind Stage: Ask yourself, “What happened?” or “How did I win or lose the last point?” This leads to the next stage, which is committing to a strategy for the next point.

Revise Stage: Decide on a strategy or stick to the one that’s working. For example, serve and volley, hit to the backhand or hit crosscourt.

Ritual Stage: This is evident when you are watching the pros play.

Serve: Set up, pick a target, bounce the ball, pick out target, take a breath and serve.

Return: Set up, choose target, take a breath and return.

By maintaining a great attitude and doing this routine between points, you will never “lose” a match. You may be beaten, but you will not beat yourself.

by Thomas Johnston, USPTA, PTR, MS
- Sea Colony Tennis Director

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