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Sports Psychology Home

An Integrated Approach to Mental Skills Training  
The field of sports psychology has contributed to the improvement of tennis coaching and playing at all levels of the game.  At higher levels of tennis competition, when physical skills and tactics of players are more comparable, psychological skills take on even greater importance.

Anger in Junior Tennis Players 
Have you ever experienced this scenario with one of your players or seen it happen with someone you’re watching?  Chances are nearly every coach who works with junior tennis players has, most likely on a number of occasions.

Burnout Among Coaches 
There is good news for those of you who may be suffering from excessive stress or even burnout.  Stress management is the key, but it takes time to develop, learn and adhere to a stress management program.

Competitive Pressure - When the "Heat" is On 
When athletes are confronted with performing in tournaments where they care greatly about the match and the outcome of the match is uncertain, they often feel pressure.  Pressure can be both helpful and harmful to athletes.  As a coach, your role is to help players learn to handle pressure.

Creative Mental Toughness Activities 
Young athletes often have difficulties paying attention for long periods of time when material is presented in a lecture format.  The following four activities are designed to involve players in the process of learning sport psychology skills.  These activities are based on categories from the USTA Player Competency guide.  Use the activities as a framework and modify them to fit your needs.

Understanding and Influencing the Road to Success 
The concept of development, including athletic development, consists of quantitative and qualitative change that is orderly, cumulative, and directional (DeHart, et al, 2000).  Read this definition of development again and see if it hits home. Do you try to effectively develop the players you coach?  Do you try to bring about change in your players that is orderly, cumulative and directed?  Do you believe that how you coach your players today will impact their abilities and performance in years to come?

Finding the Right Sport Psychologist for You 
Suzi Serve, your top junior player, has just come off the court after a tough loss to her arch rival, Jeannie Volley.  In talking with Suzi about the loss, her problems with concentration and being able to relax before points come up again.  These are the problems that have been plaguing Suzi for a while and that you have both tried to solve, unfortunately unsuccessfully.  It is time to talk with a sport psychologist.

Improving the Quality of Training 
In the 2002 winter edition of the USOC’s Olympic Coach magazine, Dr. Suzie Tuffey presented guidelines for helping players learn to tap into their mental game in order to maximize their training.  By following the suggestions presented in this article you can help your players become more accountable for their performance and improve the quality of their game.

Keys to Psychological Skills 
Build players’ self-confidence by being confident yourself, helping players improve their skills, positively reinforcing them when appropriate, and encouraging them to use positive self-talk.

Mental Skills for Achieving Optimum Performance 
One benefit of sport psychology training is that it enhances performance on the court. Winning is one of the main objectives in tennis, but winning requires consistent performance at a high level.

Junior Player Burnout Can Be Prevented 
In response to a growing interest on tennis burnout a study was conducted by Daniel Gould, Ph.D., Suzie Tuffy, Eileen Udry and Jim Loehr Ed.D.  The goal of the study was to identify and psychologically describe junior tennis burnouts and compare these individuals to players who did not burnout.  Also, an in depth understanding of the burnout experience from the player’s perspective was obtained through in depth personal interviews.

Sport Psychology for Achieving Optimum Development 
In addition to providing performance enhancement and coping strategies for on-court challenges, another benefit of sport psychology is that it promotes optimum mental and emotional development. Knowledge and techniques from this field can improve decision making and problem solving, lead to more refined strategies, and enhance thinking. Sport psychology also deals with how psychological/emotional development and well being occur as consequences of participation in sport. Here are some suggestions for how you can play an important role in ensuring that players grow in this area.

Sport Psychology for Achieving Optimum Experience
Another benefit that sport psychology offers tennis is that it promotes the best possible experience for the athlete. You can use it to help players have more fun competing; develop competence, self-esteem, and independence; and find true meaning and fulfillment in participation. Although improving the athletic experience is valuable in itself, players who remain excited and committed to their sport also gain a competitive edge.

The Match is Over and You're the Coach - What Now? 
Without question, some of the most critical moments of your tennis-coaching career occur in the moments, hours and sometimes days following a big match. Win or lose, the athlete wants the feedback, support and knowledge that will take him or her to the next level. You must be sensitive to the athlete’s needs. In other words, you have to be gentle when you need to be, tough if necessary, ready to answer questions, ready to practice, prepared to work with a trainer, and sometimes just ready to listen and not talk.

The Self-Confidence Rollercoaster 
Self-confidence is one of the most important characteristics a player can possess during a match, especially if the outcome of the match is uncertain.  During a match, even the most successful professionals experience fluctuations in their level of self-confidence.  Since these changes in self-confidence will occur, how can a player minimize their flow in the negative direction?

 
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