The Art of Thinking Right During the Match

Mastering the Game of the Mind to Dominate the Court

by Federico Coppini
The Art of Thinking Right During the Match

Tennis is a sport where often there are minimal physical and technical differences between players. What truly sets them apart is their ability to develop the right mental and emotional procedures to triumph on the court. While working on the fundamentals is essential, the art of winning requires superior skills.

In recent years, we have seen many players among the top 100 succeed without sensational or "perfect" shots. What distinguished them was their understanding that the art of winning is a learned and refined behavior. One key to a winning mentality is paying attention to why points are won or lost.

A winning player manages the score, errors, and game strategies. They adapt to the changing challenges faced in closing a set or a match, and they maintain composure during challenging moments. Observing the opponent is another crucial skill.

A top player doesn't fixate on a single type of play if it's not effective in a particular match. They often modify their playing style and adopt a Plan B, or even a Plan C, if necessary. They may lose the first set with Plan A, but they almost always manage to win the match with Plan C.

Understanding the opponent's weaknesses and strengths is vital. For example, a player may have a formidable attacking forehand, but if they haven't learned to develop a neutral or defensive forehand, it becomes a vulnerable shot.

It's also important to observe at what height the opponent strikes the ball, as it can significantly impact its effectiveness. Court movement plays a critical role in putting the opponent under pressure. For instance, a player who excels from the baseline may struggle when forced to move backward or forward towards the net.

Mastering the use of slice shots and angles can push the opponent out of their comfort zone and induce errors. Game patterns are another aspect to consider. If a particular serve type consistently yields positive results, it can be utilized in critical points.

Simultaneously, players must be ready to react if their opponent succeeds with a specific game pattern. During the match, it is crucial to observe signs of negative mental attitudes from the opponent, such as facial expressions and body language.

Exploiting these behaviors can influence the course of the match. Analyzing and improving personal mistakes is essential. Choosing the wrong shots is often the primary reason for losing a point in intermediate and high-level tennis.

Monitoring and working on shot selection can lead to improved performance. Lastly, the mental aspect is crucial in tennis. Rituals between points and during breaks can help maintain focus and composure. Utilizing the time between points to analyze strategies, solve problems, and study the opponent can make a significant difference.

In summary, winning in tennis requires not only technical and physical skills but also a winning mindset. The art of thinking right during the match is fundamental to success. Developing mental and emotional procedures, observing the opponent, exploiting weaknesses, adapting, using game patterns, and working on the mental aspect are all strategies that can make a difference on the court.

Therefore, do not underestimate the importance of the mind in tennis and dedicate time to train mentally as well. This will allow you to improve your performance and achieve exceptional results in your tennis journey.