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By:  Scott Baker | Tennis4you  | Tennis Forum  | E-mail

...just because you do not yell at yourself or get upset does not mean that you cannot be intense and play with all you have. - Scott Baker

I have played tennis with hundreds, if not thousands of people. Through the years I have seen people get mad, frustrated, disappointed and much more! I have seen people verbally abuse themselves, hurt themselves and hurt others. The two things I have noticed over and over again is that no one likes to play tennis with people who lose their cool on the court, and no one plays better tennis when they are mad.

I am writing this article as someone who used to (and sometimes still does) struggle with anger on the court. I am a very competitive person and I hate to lose. What frustrates me the most is when I am the one throwing away all the points. It is much easier to deal with a better player outplaying me. Regardless what the rhyme or reason, almost 99% of the time I have seen people get mad, I have seen the level of their game diminish, mine included.

Not too long ago I had picked up the racquet from being off of the game for several months due to an injury. Of course I knew that I would not be able to play like I wanted right away, but for some reason I cannot accept that very well once I step on the court. To say the least, I was getting mad, very mad. Almost every match I was in a bad mood, talking to myself, yelling at myself and putting myself down. What makes all that even worse is that I was usually playing doubles so not only did my opponents have to listen to me, my doubles partner(s) did too. I was bringing the enjoyment of the whole game down for everyone.

As I get older I realize that winning is not everything and that you have to have fun playing the game. I have 2 jobs, a wife, kids, a mortgage payment and I manage this website by myself. I have enough stress in my life as it is and if tennis is going to be an added stress then I should just let it go. Tennis is for fun, and probably most people reading this article do not make their living from tennis. So why do we insist on getting so mad when no good comes from it?

I have been making the change on the court to stay focused and play better tennis. Let me tell you what I have done to make the change for myself. I have calmed down on the court, a lot! I have more fun, I am more relaxed, and guess what, I am actually playing better tennis. I still miss shots, but it is so much nicer when you can just shake it off and move on to the next point. Getting mad on the tennis court does not resolve anything. If you are upset or disappointed in the way you played, take it out in your training and not in your match. If you want to play better tennis, do not get mad, instead keep your cool, focus, fight, but have fun doing it. Even if you still lose you can say you had fun playing!

Allow me to offer up some advise that has helped me and I hope can help you. Before you even step on the court think about how you want to play mentally. Tell yourself to just play your game and to focus on the next point rather than the previous. Know ahead of time that you will not allow things to bother you on the court. Know you will be a mental rock, work through your problems and focus on what you can do better. If you lose, it can only make you stronger for next time. Preparring ahead of time has helped me to refocus during bad patches in my play and helps me move on to the next point.

I would like to recommend 2 sources of information that can help your mental game. A decade ago I read a book called "The Inner Game of Tennis" by Timothy Gallwey. I highly recommend this book. If you are struggling on the court mentally (with anger) this would be a good book to read. It helped me and my game. Another great source for mental tennis is Tom Veneziano's website - TennisWarrior.com. Tom has, in my opinion, one of the best instructional tennis websites and he is always eager to help. I encourage you to tap into both resources if you struggle mentally on the court.

Remember, just because you do not yell at yourself or get upset does not mean that you cannot be intense and play with all you have. Even though I may be more relaxed I am still as intense as ever when I play, you just won't hear about it. Take a look at how Rafeal Nadal plays. He is one of the most intense players out there. What helps to make him so good is that no matter what he gives it all he has each point. As soon as a point is over, win or lose, he moves on to the next point. So next time you think you might blow your top, just stop, refocus and see if you can be the better player!

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker
Tennis4you.com