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Sports Psychology: 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.
  • Meet with each player periodically to set, review, and evaluate his or her goals. Create a developmental plan that includes a year-long schedule divided into monthly, weekly, and daily subgoals.
  • If stress is a problem for players, help them work on changing their environment, controlling their perceptions of situations, and learning relaxation techniques.
  • Help players to learn imagery and visualization techniques that they can use to anticipate and solve problems, prepare for matches, rehearse strokes and sequences, cope with difficulties, and reinforce positive performance.
  • Aid players in developing concentration and attention control strategies so they can stay focused.
  • Seek the intrinsic or extrinsic motivators that work for each player and try to optimize those.
  • If players are distracted by off-court problems, help them by referring them to an appropriate professional such as a sport psychologist.
  • Be a good leader, one who provides a challenging but encouraging environment and who empowers players.
  • Promote players’ mental development by adapting instruction to the players’ learning styles; encouraging their curiosity; helping them to stay modest about their accomplishments; encouraging them to be open to change; promoting logical and positive thinking; and encouraging them to reach for excellence, but not perfectionism.
  • Help players to develop emotionally by encouraging them to keep emotional control and discouraging their making excuses.
  • To make playing tennis an optimum experience for players, positively reinforce players for appropriate behavior, punish them appropriately when necessary, promote intrinsic motivation, help them develop a success orientation (rather than fear of failure), and try to prevent or reverse burnout.
  • Make time for players to participate in mental training programs and to practice the mental skills they learn on a regular basis.
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