Mastering the Mental Side of Tennis
James Lau, CPsychol. is a HCPC Registered and Chartered Sport Psychologist working for Inspiring Sporting Excellence as an associate whilst running JL Sports Performance. He earned a Master’s degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Northumbria University, and has completed the British Psychology Society’s Stage 2 qualification in Sport and Exercise Psychology.
He has worked with teams and individual athletes in a wide variety of sports since 2013, and has developed a specific focus on racquet sports along the way. Along with a wealth of experience working with high-level athletes, James also has experience in playing competitive tennis and squash. He has noticed that there is something in common that holds the majority of athletes he has worked with back from playing to their full potential on a consistent basis, or even replicating the level they are capable of during training. This something in common is fear.
- Fear of missing shots
- Fear of disappointing fans/friends/parents/ourselves
- Fear of not reaching your expectations
- Fear of opponents/spectators/coaches looking down on you
- And many more…
This fear has caused many, including James himself, to play differently to how they would ideally like or plan to, which makes no sense whatsoever, as this is what they work hard in training for!
Examples include feeling nervous and trying to play “safer” when under pressure (which almost always leads to worse shot selection), poor decision making due to fear, or failing to control frustration and allowing it to influence performance for longer periods of time than it should.
Therefore, a large part of James’s focus is on working with athletes to tackle these thoughts of fear using tailored techniques developed through his expertise and experience, aiming to help them master their emotions, creating solid mindsets that will allow them to perform freely on the court and to give them an edge over their opponents.
We’re in the height of the summer of sport here in the UK where Wimbledon is currently being played. For those that aren’t familiar with Wimbledon I’m talking about a grand slam tournament in the sport of tennis. Accordingly, in this episode I delve into the psychological side to tennis. It’s a game that I follow closely, and it’s a game in my mind, which is hugely psychological where matches ebb and flow and can be lost in the blink on an eye. My guest, is also a racquet sports specialist and well respected Sports Psychologist, James Lau.
In the episode, we unpick typical mental game challenges that tennis players face and how to best support players overcome these challenges. We also discuss the legends of tennis, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the mental qualities that they bring to the table and what we can learn from them.
Key Learning Points:
- The relationship between your thoughts and how you behave on the tennis court is important if you want to channel your drive and motivation to be able to express yourself freely.
- Consider how you use your time between points to help you regain your composure.
- Do you have a simple and clear pre-shot routine before you serve or return?
- Djokovic has an inner confidence that he can get any serve back, when returning.
- Nadal is so consistent in the way he prepares and goes through his routines.
- Having a mindset to play your natural game is hugely helpful.
- Federer handles pressure amazingly, appears very calm and nothing changes.
Connect with James Lau
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For More Resources for Tennis Players
Click the button below to join The Sports Psychology Hub a Facebook group that David hosts to help ambitious athletes, serious sport coaches, sporting parents, sports psychologists and mental game coaches to support each other.
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Global Sports Psychologist located near Durham and willing to travel Internationally. Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence. With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.
T: +44 7734 697769
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