Mental Tennis | How To Play Better Tennis – Tips From A Professional Tennis Coach

Trained Tennis Players And The Rest Of Us
Thursday, July 21st, 2011
I just played in the National Tournament (for club players) in the over 50s age group.

I had the bad luck of playing the #1 seed – who is actually one of the top 3 players in the world in this age group.

But I am a 3.5/4.0 player and my opponent beat me easily. She made few mistakes. My best serves were not good enough & there was no apparent way to get to the net. She won 0 & 0.

I am not sure what I learned from this experience. It felt humiliating? Embarrassing? Playing the top seed in front of a crowd of her friends and other players etc.

So tomorrow I have a consolation match against a mortal – someone I might normally be competitive with.

Any advice on recovering from the shell shock of playing the #1 seed and pulling together an aggressive game for tomorrow? I am trying to remember why I was excited to enter this tournament. (more…)

Posted in Mental Tennis | 5 Comments »

How To Break Opponent’s Zone Play
Thursday, June 30th, 2011
Sometimes your opponent will enter the zone and play their best tennis which will be at much higher level than they usually play on.

The recent win of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga over Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarter-finals was a great example of that.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeats Roger Federer in Wimbledon 2011 QF
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeats Roger Federer in Wimbledon 2011 QF (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Once Tsonga was 2 sets to love down, he felt he had nothing to lose. He started to go for shots and was not afraid to miss.

He simply entered the zone and Federer was unable to take him out of the zone.

Actually, in my opinion Federer never tried to break Tsonga’s zone and I am not sure he even knows that such an approach exists. (more…)

Posted in Mental Tennis | 4 Comments »

The Key To Playing Tennis In The Zone And Why It’s So Hard To Do That
Saturday, January 8th, 2011
The following is an email exchange between Arturo and me discussing playing tennis in the zone…


Arturo: I played a tournament right before Christmas. Both matches were interesting.

In the first, I could see the weaknesses and my opponent tried to put pressure on me but I had too many answers for his attacks. He started to play better in the second set and I could hear the doubts and fears creep in.

But I simply let them go and started to play well again. In the past, I might have fought these thoughts more.

But now I simply acknowledge them and then move on. I also try to really relax on the toughest points. (more…)

Posted in Mental Tennis | 1 Comment »

How To Quiet Your Mind During Tennis Practice Or A Match
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
There is a very simple technique that will help you quiet the mind during tennis.

It happens often that while we train we start thinking about other things we need to do – whether they are related to tennis or even something else.

We think about money, job, partners, kids, your to do list, the homework, the future – and those thoughts keep entering our mind and they keep distracting us.

We simply cannot focus 100% on tennis and on the current point or the ball exchange. We therefore play poorly and get even more distracted and less focused. (more…)

Posted in Mental Tennis | 2 Comments »

Is Losing The Desire To Win Tennis Matches Bad?
Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
I have a (probably) mental tennis question to ask. I’m 45 years old now.

I played in two singles tournaments (NTRP 5.0 and above) in the past two months. The first time, I beat a title contender in semi and got cramped, so had to forfeit the finals.

The second time, I beat a top senior player in the first round 9-7, beat a 34 years old 5.5 player 8-4 in the second round.

In all these matches, I played above my “daily” level. I saw the ball clearer than usual, my legs moved almost by itself and my body moved through every stroke, and my volleys were all phenomenal (I played an extreme net rushing style : the way Stefan Edberg and Pat Rafter played).

The problem is – the next morning, in the semi of the second tournament, I played against the same guy I beat in the last semi. But this time, I lost 0-8!!

He didn’t play that better, but I experienced a strange feeling. First, I missed all the easy volleys (hit the frame, dumped it to the net, sent it wide, long, anything that lost the point). And I still felt so relaxed that I didn’t care to increase my focus.

I didn’t care to raise the consistency. I just felt so lazy to fix it. My opponent, however, was on fire as he really expected a revenge.

I didn’t plan to play loose. I went there intending to play as usual, but the eyes, hand, and body don’t seem to get along like the afternoon of the day before. And I didn’t do any thing to fix the problem. So the result was logical.

And I didn’t feel bad or upset being beat 8-0. I knew I could play much better but realized that – on that day I could lose to any 3.5 player.

This is my first lost in 5-6 matches after beating many reputed players. And I don’t understand why I didn’t try to fight (well, I have digged deeper and have come back to win matches before, but not this time).

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Posted in Mental Tennis | 3 Comments »

Example Of How Tough Tennis Can Be On The Mind
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
Marin Cilic defeated Igor Andreev today in Monte Carlo but there was a game at 4:1 in the second set that can demonstrate what kind of situations happen in tennis and how mentally tough one has to be to overcome those.

Marin Cilic backhand
Marin Cilic backhand – Photo by MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

It was 4:1 for Cilic and he was also serving.

Here are 3 critical situations where Marin Cilic had basically won the the point but immediately “lost it” because of some external factor which he couldn’t control: (more…)

Posted in Mental Tennis | 2 Comments »

Tennis Serve Toss Expectations And The Reality Of It
Sunday, March 14th, 2010
Dear Mr. Mencinger: Great blog and website. I need your help, please. I am an active club player. 31 yrs old playing my best overall game (good groundstrokes and volleys).

But for the last 2 years, my serve toss has been a struggle. I thought it was technique, but I have served well in the past. I tend to start serving well and then the moment I miss one toss, doubts kick in.

My tossing arm feels paralyzed and I forget what my toss motion (and overall serve motion) looked like. I start changing things out of nervousness. (more…)

Posted in Mental Tennis | 3 Comments »

I Don’t Like Competing In Tennis And Hurting Other People’s Feelings If I Win
Sunday, February 21st, 2010
I’ve been playing tennis for about two years. I’ve always liked it but I’ve never liked the competition aspect of it.

I just don’t understand the need for competition. All is see in it is to see who is the winner and who is the loser.

I find happiness in hitting the ball over the net not winning a match and then hurting the other person’s feelings because they lost. I love drills, practices, fake matches (when you don’t score) but I don’t like tournaments.

This past tournament I was favored to win. My first match was last night and I knew that I could beat the other girl 6,0-6,0. But I didn’t. Instead I got onto the tennis court and barely moved my feet farther than three steps. I hit balls I knew were far out.

I can hit well, I have good technique and am actually quite good but I don’t like the competition part. I try very hard in practices, lessons, and drills. Maybe i don’t like competitions because I already know I can beat the people so I find no use in proving it.

I really want to play more tennis but the only way I can is if i compete. But I hate competing and never want to. Is there something you recommend that I do?

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Posted in Mental Tennis | 5 Comments »

Analyzing Your Effort In Tennis Matches
Monday, January 4th, 2010
One of the main reasons why you lose games and eventually matches is because you don’t give 100% of effort all the time.

You may feel down, frustrated or disappointed (you’re in a low activation state) or you may feel angry, upset or nervous (you’re in a high activation state). In either case, you’re not giving 100% of effort at that moment.

You may also feel somewhat tired and your body’s natural response is to save energy. If you’re not mentally strong enough to overcome those impulses, you’re again not giving 100% of effort. (more…)

Posted in Mental Tennis, Tennis Coaching | 1 Comment »

How To Always Bring A Steady Game To My Matches?
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
I play tournaments every week but i can’t seem to bring my game together on match day.

At training i play great but in matches i only play a good point once every two games.

One day i beat the number 4 seed the next day i lose to a hacker. How can i always bring my steady and aggressive game to my matches?


First, you can’t always bring your steady game. Top players don’t win all the time.

We are humans and not robots – we have good days and bad days.

The more you accept bad days as something normal, the sooner they will disappear and the less they will appear.

What you resist, persists.