When I hear that at a certain point, tennis is 90 percent mental, my follow-up question is always, then why is 90-plus percent of our training physical? Good question, huh?
Well, what is “mental” anyway? The mental aspect of your game consists of the thoughts and images you have in your brain.
Do you know how many thoughts we have in a day? Thousands and thousands. Now, that’s a lot of thoughts. I was shocked and a bit dismayed to learn that there’s no such thing as a “mere” thought. Every thought we have is an electrochemical event that impacts us on a cellular level. Wow, that’s thousands of cellular impacts a day just from thoughts! We’d better watch what we think – on and off the court!
Thoughts are constant unless you’re really good at meditating and know how to quiet your mind. Unfortunately, too many thoughts tend to be negative. That’s especially true when we’re faced with the pressure of a tennis match. And every one of those negative thoughts affects us physically as well as mentally. That’s why thinking positively is a skill we want to develop in ourselves and in our team.
Self-talk is all about programming the brain, or better yet reprogramming it. Changing your self-talk will ultimately change your emotions and your behavior on the court.