A strong mind is important in tennis
Your personal mindset going into just about any sporting event is important. It can play a role in how you perform and the eventual outcome of the match. From an individual shooting a free-throw to a golfer attempting to line up a putt, these elements of athletic activity are not just about muscle memory and skill, but about how strong willed the mind is (Wegner, 1994). The same is true in tennis, which is why you need to strengthen your mind to improve your game.
Have you ever heard someone say they are a great student but they do not take tests well? There is something to this particular saying. Athletes may find they perform exceptionally well in practice, but fall flat in games. When this happens, it is not because the knowledge or talent isn't there, but because they do not have a strong mind. Improving your mindset helps reduce nerves while helping you perform better during the match.
So, why do you run into mental problems? Often, it can be put down to approach. First, you may think about what happens if you do something wrong; you dwell on the negative outcomes. When you focus too much on one given element, it forces you to trip and fall (Wegner, 1994). You need to avoid thinking of the negative aspects of what might happen. The less you dwell on the negatives, the less chance these negatives have of coming to fruition .
Your body knows what it is doing. Your body and your mind work in tandem and perform especially well without external thoughts flooding your brain. These external thoughts can cause problems with your match (Lorusso, 2009). It is like an athlete who knows they are coming close to a record. They were not focusing on breaking the particular record, but once others start to bring it up in front of them, it enters their mind and takes some focus away from the rest of their activity. You need to prevent these unwanted thoughts from taking hold.
How do you do this? Visualization! Visualize what you are positively doing. By spending your mental efforts on the visualization, it prevents it from wandering into other thoughts (Lorusso, 2009). In other words, visualize the positive results that will happen, so that your mind and body expect positive results--technically, mentally, and emotionally!
Lorusso, J. (2009). Ironic Processes of Mental Control of Action in Tennis. Retrieved from http://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/islandora/object/fsu%3A175613
Wegner, D. M. (1994). Ironic processes of mental control. Psychological Review, 101(1), 34-52. doi:10.1037/0033-295x.101.1.34