Tennis is a very physical sport, however, the mental part of tennis is what separates the top players from the rest of the crowd. In order to be able to compete, players must be mentally tough enough to deal with the ebbs and flows of competing at a high level. When competing, they want to win every point. However, it is nearly impossible to win every point given the calibre of players they are competing against. All players train, and spend endless hours perfecting their game. The issue then becomes whether or not they can hold up under the pressure of playing matches, and competing for titles.
Very few aspiring tennis players make it to no. 1 in the world, and win Grand Slam titles. Many hopefuls will never break through on the ATP or WTA tour, or even at lower level ITF pro circuit events. That is where it all starts for players start, either in the ITF professional circuit or ITF junior circuit. Before players can compete at the ATP World Tour (for men) or the WTA tour (for women), they must first prove themselves in smaller tournaments most people have no clue about. They need to win matches at those tournaments, and ideally win the tournaments themselves to rise in the rankings and bring them closer to tennis glory.
In order to compete at this tournaments, players must have a high degree of confidence in their game. If they lack the confidence, they will likely lose their matches. This year Eugenie Bouchard lost multiple matches in a row and according to tennis.com, Vince Spadea has the record of 21 losses in a row. Jelena Jankovic, former no. 1, also went on a 10 match losing streak after her success, and has rebounded since then.
The leading text on the mental side of tennis is The Inner Game of Tennis. Author W. Timothy Galley writes:
“Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game.”
It’s hard to analyze what goes on inside players heads, and we can only speculate. While it is fun to analyze players, and say what makes them tick. The reality is that only they can really understand why they feel the way they do. It is easier for us to see their physical condition, or outer game. For example, if a player has their left ankle taped, there is probably something wrong with it, since tape is not usually an aesthetic decision. However, similar to the mental side, there can often be a lot of speculation around a player’s physical condition.
Due to human nature, we enjoy speculation. That’s why we enjoy gossip, and the tennis world is not short of that. It’s entertaining to follow the next engagement or breakup. And the life events of players can fuel speculation as to what is going on in their heads. I don’t want to engage in gossip, so I will do my best to keep my blog around the court and out of the home.
It’s a tough sport, and players must stay focused on the task at hand… winning.