Quantcast
nodot nodot
Mental Equipment
September 1995 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
Optimizing Arousal in Tennis

Dr. John Murray Photo
Dr. John Murray

The psychological and sport psychological literature is replete with studies examining the relationship between arousal and performance.

Despite this abundance of data, no theory has gained universal acceptance. Definitions of arousal and its effect on performance are hotly debated issues. In my opinion, this reflects the nature of a complex beast, as sports performance varies from sinking a two foot putt to landing a crushing blow on the fullback. Add to these task differences the various skill levels and personalities of the performers and this once clear relationship gets scary! Our current focus on optimizing arousal in tennis makes this job a whole lot easier, and proper arousal management will do wonders for your game.

Arousal was defined by Singer and Associates (1993) as a multidimensional construct that refers to an energizing function of the mind and body, varying on a continuum from low (deep sleep) to high (extreme excitement). It involves both a physiological response (e.g., increased heart rate) and cognitive processes (e.g., appraisal of an event). Sage (1984) described arousal as motivation which energizes, or directs one to a specific goal, and Cox (1990) equated it with alertness. Many have used the terms arousal and activation interchangeably.

Arousal should be distinguished from anxiety and stress. Although anxiety usually involves increases in arousal, it is also accompanied by worry, concern, and negative thoughts and feelings. Stress refers to any external or internal stimulation that tends to grossly disturb homeostasis or stability.

One of the oldest psychological theories on the relationship between arousal and performance is the "Inverted-U Hypothesis" or "Yerkes-Dodson Law." Simply stated, this theory suggests that optimal performance is achieved with increases in arousal until further increases in arousal lead to performance decrement. Some prefer to describe "zones of optimal functioning," reflecting the view that it is impossible to pinpoint the precise level at which performance is optimized. What does all this mean in tennis? It is clear that being either under- or over-aroused will impair you game. Sport psychologists, including Loehr (1991), have used heart rate monitors on tennis players to determine the arousal levels corresponding with an individual's best match play.

Researchers maintain that an athletes' optimal arousal level will vary depending on the nature of the task and skill level of the performer. Oxendine (1984) stated that more complex tasks require lower arousal levels, and that tennis, like baseball pitching and fencing, requires "some arousal" (more than "slight arousal" but less than "medium arousal"). Cox (1990) concluded that highly skilled athletes and those performing simple tasks need a moderately high level of arousal for maximum performance, whereas less skilled athletes and those performing complex tasks require a low level of arousal for maximum performance. Since the demands in tennis are relatively complex, and tennis is a game of errors rather than winners, it might be wise to heed scientific wisdom and guard against over-arousal. This is especially true for beginners and intermediates! Using this logic, professionals and those with more highly developed skills should benefit from slightly higher levels of arousal.

Despite this advice, there are no fast and ready rules, and individual differences prevail. It is necessary for each player to assess their own levels of arousal and corresponding performance. One way to do this is to practice increasing and decreasing arousal while noting changes in performance.

The following techniques have been used to increase or decrease arousal. As always, the maximum benefit is obtained through consultation with a qualified sport psychologist.

    To increase arousal:

      (1) Increase your rhythm and rate of breathing

      (2) Focus on the task at hand and distract yourself from fatigue

      (3) Stretch and exercise more prior to play

      (4) Listen to upbeat music prior to play

      (5) Visualize powerful forces (e.g., leaping cheetah, rocket blast)

      (6) Draw energy from the crowd

    To decrease arousal:

      (1) Breath deeply and slowly from the diaphragm

      (2) Engage in a popular form of meditation

      (3) Quietly repeat a key word or phrase to yourself (e.g., calm, easy, cool)

      (4) Direct your focus on performance rather than outcome

      (5) Engage in Progressive Muscle Relaxation-briefly tensing and relaxing muscle groups, noting differences between tension and relaxation

      (6) Dictate your own pace and take your time between points

Practice adjusting your level of arousal on a regular basis until you find the level at which you perform best. You'll know it when you are optimally aroused! Until next time...

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 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.
 
June 21, 2014 Between The Lines: Spotlight Wimbledon 2014 by Ray Bowers.
 
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 13 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 14 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 15 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 16 Finals W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters

  Featured Tickets:
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 11 Third Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 10 Men's Second Round Women's Third Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 9 Men's Second Round Women's Third Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 8 Second Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona

  Featured Tickets:
Sony Open Tennis Session 13 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 3rd Round Women's Singles 4th Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 14 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 3rd Round Women's Singles 4th Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 15 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 4th Round Women's Singles Quarterfinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 16 Tickets Miami Men's Singles 4th Round Women's Singles Quarterfinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center

  Featured Tickets:
Sony Open Tennis Session 21 Tickets Miami Men's Singles Semifinals Women's Doubles Semifinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 22 Tickets Miami Men's Singles Semifinals Women's Doubles Semifinals Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 23 Tickets Miami Woman's Singles Final Men's Doubles Final Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 24 Tickets Miami Men's Singles Final Women's Doubles Final Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
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