Quantcast
nodot nodot
Mental Equipment
August 1998 Article

Contact John Murray

Mental Equipment Archive

Get John F. Murray's book The Mental Performance Index at Amazon.com

Get John F. Murray's book Smart Tennis at Amazon.com

Tennis Server
HOME PAGE

Do You Want To Be A Better Tennis Player?

Then Sign Up For A Free Subscription to the Tennis Server INTERACTIVE
E-mail Newsletter!

You will join 25,000 other subscribers in receiving news of updates to the Tennis Server along with monthly tennis tips from tennis pro Tom Veneziano that won't be found on the web site.
 
Best of all, it is free!

Player Profiles:
 
Top Pros (Women)
tennis ball Serena Williams
tennis ball Simona Halep
tennis ball Na Li
tennis ball Petra Kvitova
tennis ball Agnieszka Radwanska
tennis ball Maria Sharapova
tennis ball Angelique Kerber
tennis ball Eugenie Bouchard
tennis ball Ana Ivanovic
tennis ball Jelena Jankovic
 ... more profiles
 
Top Pros (Men)
tennis ball Novak Djokovic
tennis ball Rafael Nadal
tennis ball Roger Federer
tennis ball Stanislas Wawrinka
tennis ball David Ferrer
tennis ball Milos Raonic
tennis ball Tomas Berdych
tennis ball Grigor Dimitrov
tennis ball Andy Murray
tennis ball Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
 ... more profiles
 
Tennis Features Icon TENNIS FEATURES:

BETWEEN THE LINES - Ray Bowers takes an analytical and sometimes controversial look at the ATP/WTA professional tour.
 
PRO TENNIS SHOWCASE - Tennis match reports and photography from around the world.
 
TURBO TENNIS - Ron Waite turbocharges your tennis game with tennis tips, strategic considerations, training and practice regimens, and mental mindsets and exercises.
 
TENNIS ANYONE? - USPTA Pro John Mills' quick player tip.
 
WILD CARDS - Each month a guest column by a new writer.
 
TENNIS SET - Jani Macari Pallis, Ph.D. looks at tennis science, engineering and technology.
 
MORTAL TENNIS - Greg Moran's tennis archive on how regular humans can play better tennis.
 
MENTAL EQUIPMENT - Explore the mental side of the game with Dr. John Murray.
 
TENNIS WARRIOR - Tom Veneziano's Tennis Warrior archive.
 
HARDSCRABBLE SCRAMBLE - USPTA pro Mike Whittington's player tip archive.
 
TENNIS EQUIPMENT TIPS.

Tennis Community Icon TENNIS COMMUNITY:


Tennis Book, DVD, and Video Index
 
Tennis Server Match Reports
 
Editor's Letter
 
Become a Tennis Server Sponsor

Explore The Tennis Net Icon EXPLORE THE TENNIS NET:

Pro Tennis Calendar & Event Links
 
Tennis News and Live Tennis Scores
 
Tennis Links on the Web
 
nodot
Mental Equipment By Dr. John Murray


 

Green Dot
 
Tennis Warehouse Logo
 
Green Dot

 
nodot
Reverse Irrational Thinking

Dr. John Murray Photo
Dr. John Murray

By reading this column, you're already showing clear thinking and a desire to improve. You want to be your best, whether on the red powder of Paris, slick sod at Wimbledon, or just the cracked concrete courts downtown. But let's ignore surface conditions for a moment and direct your focus to a deeper level. More specifically, let's challenge and reverse irrational thoughts that often impair progress.

Do you know anyone who is completely rational? Few of us exist in a totally rational state. Did you recently purchase a powerball ticket? If you have serious hopes of winning powerball, those tickets might qualify you for irrationality, or just reveal your math aptitude. Lotteries may be fun, but buying a solid gold shovel to discover lost treasure chests in your backyard is a much wiser investment. At least you'll have a new shovel to show for it! We're all irrational at times, and this includes performance situations.

One of the fundamental challenges in sport psychology is to help athletes evaluate situations more accurately. With a clearer perspective, it's possible to entertain lofty dreams and set challenging goals to realize them. On the other hand, athletes lacking clarity in their thoughts are constantly enslaved by misperceptions, and often sell themselves short.

Let's examine 7 common irrational thoughts in tennis (and life), and offer suggestions to reverse the madness and improve performance:

    "I should win every match I play or I'm a loser"

Players who take this stance are setting themselves up for repeated pain and sorrow. Not even Pete The Great wins every time he steps onto the court. Accept the fact that your actual chances of winning are 50% if you're finding perfect competition. Set goals to perform your best and always expect success, but believing you should always win is a trap.

    "I should never make mistakes"

Mistakes are your roadmaps to improvement. If you go around believing that you should never make errors, you'll never learn. You may develop the consistency of a brick wall, but what about challenge and growth? Push the limits of your current knowledge and skills by accepting mistakes as normal and healthy steps toward improvement. Aim to reduce errors and correct mistakes, but remember that you are still human. Mistakes offer a rich learning opportunity.

    "I always lose to higher ranked players"

Ignore your opponent's ranking. That is only a reflection of the past. The player with the higher ranking only has one way to go and it's not up. It's often daunting to face the number one player, but ranking itself is a meaningless number that's constantly in flux. Your opponent still has to make good contact, move well, and outwit you. Add an extra 0 after your opponents ranking if you need a confidence boost. If that doesn't work, embrace the underdog role with a passion, and have fun going after Goliath.

    "Only great athletes are truly confident"

Your world is the sum total of your thoughts. Confidence is available to everyone who expects the best, regardless of ability. Yes, winning increases confidence, but so does confident thinking!

    "I cannot play well when I'm nervous"

Feeling nervous is normal and expected. If you did not have these feelings before and during the match, I'd wonder if you were alive. You can play brilliant tennis and a wonderful saxophone when you're nervous. The real enemy is negative thinking combined with nervousness. Increased arousal just documents your sincerity and provides natural energy for performance.

    "Once I've lost focus, I'll never get it back"

You've lost your concentration and gotten upset. This leads to further problems such as increased anxiety or lost confidence. It's really impossible to remain perfectly focused on anything for long. The key is to regain your focus once it's lost. Don't allow mental mistakes to lead to negative thinking. Like correcting a bad serve, just re-adjust your focus as much as needed.

    "I can't win the 3rd set against a younger and fitter player"

This is a true statement (just kidding, though it often seems true!). If your energy is depleted, there's a good chance your opponent is experiencing fatigue too. Rather than throw in the towel, make a pact with yourself to play smarter tennis. Find ways to win the points quicker and more decisively. Hang in there until you get your second wind and your opponent begs for stalemate!

    "Visualization is only for dreamers"

If you haven't reaped benefits from imagery yet, you're not doing your homework! There is no question that simulating performance in your mind helps prepare you for actual play. To use imagery properly, first eliminate the irrational thought that it won't work. Once you're convinced of the real benefits of imagery, you'll exert greater effort and your sessions will be of higher quality.

The quality of your thinking directly affects your effort, motivation and activities. It's fun to let loose and fantasize for pleasure, but if you're howling at the moon during your matches, you'll never reach your potential. Once you've rid yourself of irrational notions of doom and gloom, you're free to express your true inner strength. I don't think I'd want to play you after that!

Until next month ...

Green DotGreen DotGreen Dot

Mental Equipment Archive

If you have not already signed up to receive our free e-mail newsletter Tennis Server INTERACTIVE, you can sign up here. You will receive notification each month of changes at the Tennis Server and news of new columns posted on our site.

This column is copyrighted by Dr. John Murray, all rights reserved.

Dr. John F. Murray is currently a licensed clinical psychologist and sport psychologist in Florida. In addition, he is a tennis professional (having taught tennis internationally in North America, Hawaii, Europe, Middle East), formerly certified with both USPTA and USPTR. He has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and masters degrees both in Clinical Psychology and Exercise & Sport Sciences from the University of Florida. He maintains a personal web site at http://www.johnfmurray.com/.

Questions and comments about these columns can be directed to John by using this form.


 

nodot
nodot
Google
Web tennisserver.com
nodot nodot
The Tennis Server
Ticket Exchange

Your Source for tickets to professional tennis & golf events.
 
US Open Tickets 8/25-9/8
 
Davis Cup USA vs Slovakia Tickets Chicago 9/12-9/14
 
Swiss Indoors Tickets Basel 10/18-10/26
 
Australian Open Tickets Melbourne 1/19-2/1
 
BNP Paribas Open Tickets Indian Wells CA 3/11-3/22
 
Sony Open Tennis Tickets Miami 3/23-4/5
 

 

Tennis MindGame

 
Popular Tennis books:
 
Smart Tennis by John Murray
 
Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis-Lessons from a Master by Brad Gilbert, Steve Jamison
 
The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance by Jeff Greenwald
 
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
 
Most Recent Articles:
 
August 21, 2014 Between The Lines: Preview U.S. Open 2014 -- Focus Youth Brigade by Ray Bowers.
 
August 2014 Wild Cards: The Tennis Round Table: Interviews With Jim Courier, Todd Martin & Mark Philippoussis in Arizona by Vince Barr.
 
Tennis Warrior: The Little Tennis Girl Who Could by Tom Veneziano.
 
August 2014 Tennis Anyone: Try To See The Big Picture by John Mills.
 
August 2014 Turbo Tennis: My Most Useful 'Quick Fix' Tips!!! by Ron Waite.
 
July 6, 2014 Between The Lines: Glory At Wimbledon 2014 by Ray Bowers.
 
Tennis Warrior: The Great Tennis Divide by Tom Veneziano.
 
July 2014 Tennis Anyone: Prevention by John Mills.
 
July 2014 Turbo Tennis: Perfect Volleys by Ron Waite.
 
May 2014 Wild Cards: Michael Chang Wins Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Challenge in Arizona by Vince Barr.
 

 

 

 

 
 
Featured events in the Tennis Server Ticket Exchanges:
 
  Featured Tickets:
BNP Paribas Open Tickets Indian Wells CA Tennis Garden
Sony Open Tennis Tickets Miami Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
 

  Featured Tickets:
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 5 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 6 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 7 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 8 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters

  Featured Tickets:
US Open Tennis Tickets Men's Quarterfinals Session 21 New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Men's Quarterfinals Session 20 New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Men's Quarterfinals Session 19 New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 18 Men's Fourth Round Women's Quarterfinals New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 17 Men's Fourth Round Women's Quarterfinals New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona

  Featured Tickets:
Sony Open Tennis Session 5 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 1st Round Women's Singles 2nd Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 6 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 1st Round Women's Singles 2nd Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 7 Tickets Miami Men's & Women's Singles 2nd Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 8 Tickets Miami Men's & Women's Singles 2nd Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Great American Beer Festival Tickets Denver CO Colorado Convention Center

  Featured Tickets:
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 2 Opening Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 1 Opening Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Grounds Admission Pass Flushing Meadows Corona New York NY National Tennis Center 8/26-9/9
Arthur Ashe Kids' Day Tickets Flushing Meadows Corona New York NY
Great American Beer Festival Tickets Denver CO Colorado Convention Center

 
 
"Tennis Server" is a registered trademark and "Tennis Server INTERACTIVE" is a trademark of Tennis Server. All original material and graphics on the Tennis Server are copyrighted 1994 - by Tennis Server and its sponsors and contributors. Please do not reproduce without permission.

 

Tennis Server
Cliff Kurtzman
Editor-in-chief
2323 Clear Lake City Boulevard
Suite 180-139
Houston, Texas 77062-8120
Phone: (281) 480-6300
Fax: (281) 480-7715
Online Contact Form
How to support Tennis Server as a Sponsor/Advertiser
Tennis Server Privacy Policy