Having a strong mental game in tennis is crucial for successful sports performance. Young players watch top-level tennis players in awe as they perform under pressure in major tournaments.
Modern-day greats such as Nadal, Djokovic, Williams and Sharapova play with such mental toughness and seem to have a knack for closing out tough matches. But there is one player whose mental game separates him from the field… Roger Federer. Federer may be the “Greatest Tennis Mind of our Time.”
Federer’s strong mental game may be the biggest contributor to his long-lasting success.
Federer attributes his ability to perform to improvements he made in his mental game.
“Previously I always thought it was just tactical and technique, but every match has become almost mental and physical – I try to push myself to move well. I try to push myself not to get upset and stay positive, and that’s what my biggest improvement is over all these years. Under pressure I can see things very clearly.”
4 Keys behind Federer’s Ability to Perform
- Good enough is not good enough – Federer wanted to be his best and explore the limits of his potential and not just settle for being good. As a junior player, Federer didn’t just want to turn professional, he wanted to be ranked number one. Today, at age 34, Federer is striving for the top
- Ability to perform and thrive under pressure – Federer wants to play top competition to bring out his best. Federer, not only can manage pressure, he thrives on pressure. Federer views pressure situations as opportunities to grow his game.
- Playing the “Director’s” role – A movie director focuses the movie camera on the important aspects of a scene. Federer has that “director’s mentality” and has mastered the art of focusing on what he needs to do in the moment and block out distractions.
- Will to prepare – Federer knows it is easier to get to the top than stay at the top. In order to perform with confidence and remain calm under pressure, you must be willing to put in necessary work, effort and energy. Today Federer eagerly practices with top ranked ITF Juniors, and young pros on the tour to stay poised and ready to perform against any opponent.
These four characteristics of mental strength are within every tennis player’s grasp but you must be willing to work for them.
Sports Performance Tips: Developing the Mental Strength of Elite Tennis Players
- Practice with a plan – Prior to a practice session, select 1-2 goals for the session. What skills will you actively try to improve? These goals should be technical, physical or mental skills that will help you improve your overall game. Like Federer, seek to be your best and don’t settle for good.
- Crunch the numbers – After practice sessions, rate your performance on a scale of 1-10 in regards to your effort (how hard did you push?) and focus (how well did you focus on your practice goals?). Every tennis player wants to few but few have the will to prepare.
If you adopt mindset similar to Roger Federer, you can better your mental game… And a better mental game will result in better performances!