Dealing with Pressure in Tennis: Performing Under Stressful Conditions

Dealing With Pressure in Tennis

 Tennis is one of the sports that requires the highest level of mental resilience, concentration, and focus. This probably applies to almost all sports, but specifically in tennis, mental state, and well-being are fundamental to being successful on the court. Often we hear the saying about a particular player - "he has great talent and incredible potential, but his weak mental state at important points costed him the match".

Coping with Pressure in Tennis: Performing Under Stressful Conditions

Therefore, even if you lose your concentration easily, it is fundamental to keep your composure and put yourself in the right frame of mind at critical moments to perform at the highest level. But if you don't know how to achieve this, we'll show you...

Strategies for Handling Stressful Situations On-Court

We will start with a simple but very illustrative example. Let's think: what is Rafael Nadal most famous for? His game on clay? His Roland Garros titles? His 22 Grand Slam trophies? Yes, those answers are all correct. But how has he achieved all this success? Thanks to his incredible mental resilience... 

To be as effective as possible, "mentality monsters" like Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic for example, have fully developed their mental game. So, here are a few mental strategies to help you deal with pressure during your matches:

1) Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the mental state where an individual is aware of what is happening around him at that exact moment, and can control 100% of everything that is up to him - his thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions.

Or simply - it's the ability to stay as focused as possible for the longest period of time, even if things are going completely wrong.

2) Positive Self-talk 

Another very effective strategy for handling stressful situations is positive self-talk. This is the ability to think as positively and optimistically as possible and again, as in the previous point - EVEN when things aren't in your favor and you look destined to lose the game.

You can achieve positive self-talk by detaching yourself from what is happening on the court for a short period of time and bringing your mind to another place, imagining how many successes you've had, or how many people you've impressed and inspired with your game.

For example, if you have a problem with a particular stroke, remember how successfully you performed it in training - that will definitely help. But still, this technique should be used with caution and for a short time - you need to stay in the present, not get distracted by many thoughts, and use all your positive energy on the court.

3) Positive Body Language

There is a very famous expression "Actions are a reflection of our thoughts". This applies in full measure in tennis. Therefore, we can say that the first two points of our strategies for handling stressful situations reflect this one - positive body language

On the other hand, if we show negative body language, it will give a clear sign to our opponent that we are not in an optimal mental state. This should not happen because, by negative actions (such as shaking our head, constant complaining to the umpire or the crowd, poor posture and even breaking rackets), we subconsciously tell both our brain and our opponent that "something is wrong".


It has been proven that in tennis the most important recipe for being successful is to have a strong mentality, concentration, and awareness… and only then comes the physical preparation. 

Therefore, you need to build a state in which you feel comfortable even when things are not going well for you in the match. This is exactly the right attitude - only then you would have the capacity to turn it around.