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Dealing With Gamesmanship And Mind Games

Dealing With Gamesmanship And Mind Games

Hi Tomaz,

It has been a while since I emailed you…but I have a problem.

All your advise has helped a great deal and I recommend my friends to your site all the time.

My daughter will be a Junior in High School this year and is thinking about not being on the tennis team. The coach is a women who loves to start trouble saying things to the other girls and playing mind games before the match begins.

For instance she told a girl that Audrey was only giving her tennis advise so she can beat her…or before a match before she goes on the court she’ll say… you won’t have a chance to beat that girl.

I personally have never seen an adult play such games. My daughter is having panic attacks (feeling nauseous and dizzy) whenever she has to go to a practice.

I feel it is not worth playing if it is not fun. She enjoys USTA and goes to tennis clinics regularly and loves it.

I have two questions…should I push her to play for the experience of all those “free” matches?

And how do you feel about the mind games that people play in tennis…like switching the score during a match…or having to go to the restroom like Serena did at Wimbledon to change the momentum of the game.

Do you feel those games should be played when your down? You seem to make sense in all your suggestions…thank you so much!

I agree that if your daughter doesn’t feel good about going to the practice or playing a match, that you should find another solution (coach, club, …).

Of course there is always some nervousness before the match but the role of the coach is to help the player relax, get rid of tension and start the match on a positive note and not reinforce the negative feelings about the match.

I can see the option of playing mind games if a coach tells the player(s) in advance, that they will practice mental toughness and he / she (the coach) will try to make them nervous, doubtful or afraid by playing certain “mind games”.

And that the players must try and ignore or fight these external ideas and replace them with their own positive thoughts.

I would accept that kind of trying to “mentally strengthen” my players.

How do I feel about mind games like: bathroom break, taking extra time, tying shoe laces, …?

I feel that there is a very thin line between being an honest person playing a tough sport and trying to win the match with every acceptable means and being a person who tries to play gamesmanship on a tennis court.

For example there is a difference between taking a bathroom break to calm yourself down even if you don’t need to go to the toilet and taking a bathroom break to break the “flow” of your opponent.

The first one is acceptable to me and second one is not.

I would accept trying to break the flow of your opponent on the serve for example, where you take some extra time to prepare for the return even-though the server wants to play the point.

Again, there is an acceptable way of doing this and the exaggerated way of doing this which is not sportsmanship like.

In summary, these mind games WILL be played against you (or your player / daughter / son) and you have to learn to cope with them.

But as I pointed in the article about ignoring opponent’s distractions, every time someone tries to play mind games with me, he ADMITS that he cannot beat me in the “normal” way.

So they try all sorts of things to unsettle me, but since I understand the cause of this (their fear of losing), this actually gives me more confidence and determination to win.

Use opponent’s mind games – gamesmanship – to boost your confidence and cruise easily through the match.

Related posts:

My Daughter Is Nervous When Serving, Help!
Dealing With The Fear Of Missing
How Are Juniors Training Tennis In Europe And Why Are They Better Than Americans?
Analyzing Your Effort In Tennis Matches
Should My Child Participate In Tennis Tournaments?